Will Kabali see Rajini reinvent himself? 5 reasons to watch the film

  • Nivedita Mishra, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 21, 2016 17:42 IST
Rajinikanth plays an ageing don who takes up the cause of equal pay for Malaysian Tamils in Kabali. (Kabalipage/Facebook)

There is no celebration like a Rajinikanth film release. Small wonder then, the excitement around the release of his next film, Kabali, is so palpable. Even in regions which are not considered his traditional markets, like north India, people have shown keen interest in watching the film.

In case you’ve been wondering what the Rajini-mania is, here are few reasons why Kabali is a must-watch:

1. The phenomenon called Rajinikanth
To his fans, he is ‘God’. To the more discerning cinema lover, he is funny. To the critic, he is a good actor lost in myriad mannerisms. After all, since his debut in 1975, Thalaiva (as fans adoringly call the actor) has been working non-stop.

Read: Kabali |Aurora Theatre in Mumbai to have six shows on Friday

A lot rides on Kabali for the star as his last two films, Kochadaiiyaan and Lingaa, did badly. (Kabalipage/Facebook)

Following his last two films – Kochadaiiyaan and Lingaa – which flopped at the box office, Rajinikanth looks to reinvent himself with Kabali. First, he plays his age. If you have seen the teaser, it is pretty obvious that for most parts, he is shown as a man in his ’50s, even ’60s. There’s no attempt to colour his hair or iron out his wrinkles using special effects; they are there for the world to see.

With an author-backed role, which gives him ample room to display his histrionics, Rajinikanth should be in his elements.

Read: Kabali | Two-minute scene from the film leaked

2. The story of Kabaleeshwaran
While little is known about the film’s story, what we do know is that it is about a Chennai gangster of the same name. He operates in Malaysia and through the course of his life, he ends up championing the cause of equal pay rights of Tamils in that country.

Watch the trailer of Kabali here:

A nugget of history will help here: Tamilians have lived in Malaysia since a millennium. The earliest settlements date back to the 11th century during the times of Chola and, later, the Pallava dynasties which ruled Tamil Nadu. At the time, most Tamilians went as merchants. However, they moved in large numbers during the British rule to work in the many plantations, never to return.

Read: Rajinikanth | Seven GIFs that define his mannerisms

With an emotive story like that, Team Kabali certainly has a clincher in hand.

3. The direction of Pa Ranjith
Those of us who followed the works of director Pa Ranjith will know that he picks good stories but always gives it a local twist. Ranjith’s touch comes in the way he treats his subject. He gets the milieu of his story right, peppers it with funny dialogues and makes the hero’s journey believable.

Pa Ranjith’s ‘fan boy’ moment with Rajinikanth. (Twitter/beemji)

Like Attakathi (Cardboard Knife), which tells the story of a small-town boy who thinks he’s in love with a girl. Despite going through the ‘trials’ of love, he utlimately settles for an arranged marriage.

Watch the trailer of Attakathi here:

Ranjith also has the knack of picking the right actors. In Attakathi, Dinesh of Visaaranai-fame played the lead.

His next, Madras, may have featured the big star, Karthi, but its plot and how it was treated remained its biggest draws. Ranjith earned some serious praise for his understanding of the social-political milieu of north Chennai, particularly, the angst of its youth and how easily they become pawns in the hands of local politicians. And it all starts with a graffiti drawn on a wall where young people play football.

Watch the trailer of Madras here:

4. Fresh cast and crew
The golden rule to know new things is to work with younger people – they have more drive and just know new ways of doing things. So, one of Rajinikanth’s regulars, AR Rahman, was replaced by the 33-year-old Santosh Narayanan. His music is fresh and the song ‘Neruppu Da’ (there is fire) proves this.

Read: Kabali fever | Rajinikanth jokes rule social media, yet again

Radhika Apte features in Kabali as Rajinikanth’s wife. (Kabalipage/Facebook)

Another shift is in the casting of Radhika Apte, the girl from Mumbai who made quick inroads into stardom as the latest ‘thinking man’s’ actress. Her ability to pick up languages quick is a huge plus. She, of course, looks much younger as compared to Rajinikanth but we will have to wait and see what Ranjith has actually done. She could, pretty much, be a flashback.

Watch the hit song, Neruppu Da, from Kabali here:

5. The film’s treatment
The teaser and songs are a hint of what the final product will be like. While fans are counting on seeing signature Rajinikanth moves, the film might not feature many of them. However, Ranjith is no fool to ignore ‘Rajini-isms’ completely. For example, he has cleverly used a clip from one of the star’s older films that has him doing what Rajini is so good at, the hair flip. So, what’s the director actually done? There’s only one way to find out.

Kabali may stop short of showing too many of his signature moves.

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