Before Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala, here’s a look at Pa Ranjith’s other artistic films
From Attakathi and Madras to Kabali and Kaala, before the release of his latest Rajinikanth-starrer here’s a look at Pa Ranjith’s artistic films.Updated: Jun 07, 2018 11:47 IST
Pa Ranjith’s style of infusing politics into slice-of-life characters was how he came to be known as a director to watch out for. His second film Madras, starring Karthi, received an especially great response although it was initially misunderstood by many. The underlying current in the movie – about the oppression of Dalits and how one man from the community tries to change the way things work – is buried in the everyday lives of characters Kaali (Karthi) and Anbu (Kalaiarasan).
You might miss this layer completely if you are not aware of the ground reality of people who live in North Chennai. The film centres around characters, mostly middle-class or lower-middle-class people who had converted to Christianity earlier on to escape oppression by upper-caste Hindus, living in a neighbourhood populated with housing board flats.
We see one such family at Anbu’s home. On the surface, Kaali is a sales executive who only wants to concentrate on his personal well-being. He tries to influence his best friend, Anbu, to think that way too. However, other details such as the oppression of Dalits in Andhra Pradesh and the photograph of Ambedkar in Anbu’s house emerge, and the conversations between the two take on a whole new meaning. It is thus that Pa Ranjith’s political commentary comes into play. The director has always spoken up for Dalits and voiced his opinions on every issue, and this strength and conviction is seen in the film too.
His debut movie Attakathi, by contrast, was a dark romantic comedy. It spoke of how any small thing can make men believe that women are interested in them and lead them on a mad pursuit of their romantic goals. Only, Pa Ranjith gave this creepy stalkerish tone a little twist and we got Attakathi. Literally translating to “a blunt knife”, the lead actor – Dinesh – is addressed as Attakathi because he is the kind who makes a lot of noise but provides no concrete action. This film also has a layer of dark humour. For instance, when Dinakaran (Dinesh) writes a love letter in blood, the background song from Vijay’s film Shahjahan gives us a clue as to where this rom-com is heading.
Pa Ranjith’s third film and his first with Rajinikanth was Kabali. It had all the makings of a classy yet down-to-earth film about the oppression of the Tamil people in Malaysia, but a majority of Rajinikanth’s fans believe he missed his cue somewhere down the line. They did not see their favourite star perform any of his trademark moves or unbelievable stunts; instead, they watched him walk out of jail after two long decades to win his throne and find his queen.
While the amalgamation of love and ideology was splendid in Madras, it turned a bit rocky in Kabali. Still, Pa Ranjith scored among members of the audience who did not see the film through the prism of Rajinikanth’s superstardom.
Now, Pa Ranjith’s next film with the superstar – titled Kaala –is set to release on June 7. From the teasers and trailers released so far, we see the film combining Pa Ranjith’s passion with Rajinikanth’s style. Since the idea of oppression was explored in their previous cinematic collaboration, speculations of a Kabali hangover in Kaala have also been on the rise. Hard-hitting songs and emotionally draining dialogues are expected to be the highlights of the film produced by Dhanush.
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