Kaala Film Review – Rajinikanth’s Best Film in Half a Decade
There were questions going around on people’s mind – Will Rajinikanth and director Pa. Ranjith‘s second collaboration after Kabali win? Especially in a time when Rajinikanth has embroiled himself in controversy for his political views. Will this film help Rajinikanth gain his momentum at the box-office? The answers to these burning questions have been answered by director Pa. Ranjith in his latest film Kaala. It proves to answer this and much more. The film works on two levels: It’s an entertaining movie, that employs the right troops of its genre. It also makes a point of portraying Rajinikanth as an unmatchable, yet a vulnerable force who is more than just style and charisma.
The story of Kaala is simple – a gangster who resides in the slums of Dharavi, in Mumbai decides to take on a powerful politician who dreams of driving away the slum dwellers and construct a township in the area. So how does Pa. Ranjith execute a premise so simple starring superstar Rajinikanth in the lead? The recipe is fool-proof – superb performances, solid character sketches and a dash of punch lines and action sequences to bring in the right flavour.
The script gives us some moments to smile and some emotional moments. The romantic track between Kaala and his wife Selvi are heart-warming. Selvi is his better-half, his anchor, his strength and there is no better than Eashwari Rao to bring this character to life. It’s a delight to see her perform so enthusiastically and skillfully. Huma Qureshi too stands out in her role as Zareena. She is bold and brave, and the only other woman after Selvi, that Kaala cares for. Special credit goes to writers Pa. Ranjith and Aadhavan Dheetchanya for adding depth to these two characters played by women. They aren’t just caricatures, but pivotal characters in the film. Another positive sign of the film’s well-written characters is exhibited by actors Dileepan, Anjali Patil and Manikandan, who make an impression!
In most of Rajinikanth’s films, there is a story of winning over evil; the good vs. the bad. Another set template in his films is when Rajinikanth challenges his opponent that his quest to accomplish his mission remains undefeated despite the hurdles the antagonist throws at him. In Kaala, director Ranjith attempts to use the same template, however, what makes it impressive is the context of the scene. The scene features Kaala explaining the power of black, the meaning of his name how he changes the notion that black is evil, and white is divine. There are several other references to the meaning of colours. The film also tries to change the myth that those dressed in white aren’t perfect (referring to politicians). The film is backed by rousing music by Santosh Narayanan, which works perfectly for each scene.
Be it Madras or Kabali, director Pa. Ranjith has been using his films to portray the society’s socio-political problems. This factor is retained in his film Kaala as well. And he skilfully does so by elevating the protagonist bloom from liberation than from being completely oppressed – a factor that most films usually employ. For example, consider this, Kaala has been living in the oppressed community of Dharavi, working hard towards the betterment of his people, yet he has worked hard enough to provide comfortable standards of living to his family. In one scene, he even yells at for raising in a way where never knew what a struggle is. It is impressive to see a popular A-list actor like Rajinikanth portray the director’s vision so well – even if it means conveying his political ambitious on screen. The downside to it is director Rajith also doesn’t make an attempt to make his films seem different. Kaala’s plot is quite similar to Madras. There is politics, there is drama, but one hope that Ranjith will add another element of surprise to his next film.
One of the best scenes in the film is when Kaala (Rajinikanth) challenges Harinath (Nana Patekar) to try leaving Dharavi without seeking his permission. Soon, obstacles block his path, and Harinath is forced to seek Kaala’s permission to exit the area. There hasn’t been a better scene in Tamil cinema recently, where the protagonist and the antagonist’s first face-to-face encounter is so original. The scene is devoid of violence or cliched punchlines. The two meet like gentlemen but depart as enemies.
Nana Patekar as Harinath is outstanding. He portrays his evil intentions discussing it with a smile on his face. He exhibits power with an intense and restrained performance. The fact that he dubbed in his own voice added value to his character and made his character seem like a strong contender to Kaala. Towards the end of the film, it does feel like an unending one. But the climax makes up for it!
Rajinikanth’s aura is usually the biggest strength of a film, and it is needless to say that it works in Kaala as well. However, it’s quite refreshing to see Superstar look so comfortable in his character, enjoying himself in comic sequences (that reminds you of his comic acts in Muthu and other 90s classics), and acing the intense look in action sequences. His character has so many shades to it that it makes it relatable and convincing. The audiences in the theatre went frenzy every time he mouthed thought-provoking dialogues.
Overall, this isn’t just a film for fans of Rajinikanth but for all movie lovers. Watch it. It’s worth your time.