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Movie Reviews

Posted at: Jun 8, 2018, 6:50 PM; last updated: Jun 8, 2018, 8:25 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: KAALA

For all you Rajini fans

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Film: Kaala

  • Cast: Rajinikanth, Nana Patekar, Samuthirakani, Huma Qureshi, Eshwari Rao, Anjali Patil, Aruldoss
  • Director: Pa Ranjith
For all you Rajini fans
A still from Kaala

Nonika Singh

A film that refers to Padma Vibushan Rajinikant thrice in the opening credits itself—well, well, we would be fools to delude ourselves to expect it to be any more than Rajinikant bhakti. Only it soon translates into a frenzy of different sort, not just hero-worship. Rather, it is not just confined to the superstar’s invincible prowess alone but in a backhanded way also heralds his new role as a politician. Nah, nah; he is not playing a political figure only locking horns with them. 

The Tamil superstar, call him demigod if you wish, appears as the saviour of the urban poor. With the film set in Mumbai’s Dharavi slums, he is the lord Kaala. If he is the protector of the underdog, his wish is people’s command.

Sure Rajini is playing his age—father of four sons, one of whom is named Lenin (yes dear, after the great revolutionary) and another is a muscle man. Hold it, Kaala is also a grandfather of a brood of children. Needless to say years have neither blunted the megastar’s chutzpah nor his ability to take on two dozen goons at one go! Even if you forgive this gaffe, after all he is Rajinikant whose gravity-defying antics mint jokes on a recurring if not daily basis, there is more to take issues with. 

Deafeningly loud music, even louder songs and unwarranted violence unleashed in the second half tantamount to assault on your senses. Of course, it has romance too and the patriarch gets not one but two heroines. The wifey (Eshwari Rao) angle is rather endearing as the film establishes him as the ever faithful loving husband. In contrast, the Huma Quershi romantic twist is bit of a stretch and hard to swallow. Not only do they look mismatched, Huma as Zarina, head of an NGO, doesn’t add anything substantial to the mayhem. In a scene he inquires of her; how come you look so young and immediately follows it up with; I was just joking. Only if we could too laugh it off. Indeed, the film has some funny moments, yet doesn’t add up to an entertainer. Sure it has a plot, a bleeding heart too. 

But between its revolutionary zeal and usual flashpoints much gets lost. Rajini, of course, stands tall and the one who matches him is the despotic politician Hari (Nana Patekar). His swachata abhiyan and Digital India say a lot. But any resemblance to living or dead is incidental… so goes the rider.   

As the antagonist, in the Hindi version at least, Patekar gets some of the best dialogues. The one wherein he states that he too knows everything is mortal but wants his name and fame, even if it’s for two days and tops it up with a rhetoric; any problem. We have no problems with Nana’s fine act of the land-grabbing vile politician, but with the film certainly. From killing of innocents to burning houses, much is repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseam. Indeed, some ideas have been turned upside down. Both politically and socially correct dialogues ensue. Kaala rang hai mehnat ka strikes home and is as much a shout out against racism as for pro-poor.

Then the entire script is dovetailed around the rights of dispossessed. But as the same thought is drummed again and again, at nearly three hours at that, it wears you down completely. Perhaps, some of the punch is lost in translation but one has to give it to Rajini sir that he still retains his poise, inimitable gait and above all, charisma. But with due apologies it is not enough to make it a wholesome fare. Even gifted actor Pankaj Tripathi’s attempt to make his presence falls flat. But then subtlety has no place in this mayhem which might end well, but then it’s a case of too little, too late. Strictly for Rajini fans, in deference to whom we can give in and add an extra half star. Or, perhaps not.

nonikasingh@tribunemail.com

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