Rajinikanth-starrer Kabali opened to mixed reviews on Friday. While critics appreciated director Pa Ranjith for overpowering the star, Rajini fans are not too happy that Thailavar ain’t doing much to satiate their hunger for ‘Rajini-antics’.
Other than Ranjith’s subtle subtext of a voice against Dalit oppression in Malaysia, Kabali’s female characters too stand out. While everyone is talking about Radhika Apte, the two other actors - Dhansika and Riythvika - who essay important roles in the movie also hold their ground in the film.
Of course, we have seen stronger women in K Balanchander’s Apoorva Raagangal (the 1975 film that marked Rajini’s debut) and C Rudraiyaa’s Aval Appadithan (1978). However, Rajini’s recent films like Enthiran (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) or Lingaa (Anushka Shetty and Sonakshi Sinha) had the women as mere showpieces who displayed no depth or strength.
Radhika Apte plays the fiery-yet-loving wife (Kumudhavalli alias Kumudha) of Kabali who orders him about, ticking him for his dressing and mannerisms. Towards the end, the scene where Rupa breaks down on seeing Kabali after 16 years is one of the best moments in the film. Radhika’s eyes and her shrill screams are enough to give one goosebumps.
Riythvika is Meena - an orphan studying in a school funded by Kabali. Meena calls Kabali ‘Papa’ and behaves like a doting, spoilt daughter around him. However, she does not hesitate to call the same man a coward when she realises he could not save a pregnant woman. Meena shouts at Kabali and the gangster seems visibly shaken to hear it all.
The third and perhaps the most powerful female character in Ranjith’s film is Dhansika’s Yogi. She is a no-nonsense woman and well-trained to play independently in Malaysia’s gang war games. What warms up our heart is the fact that she has not been portrayed as a caricaturish hero in the process. Dhansika’s body language and facial expressions are awe-inspiring.