I finally watched Kabali and left the theatre with mixed feelings and with a few “What if…” questions that can be answered by the sequel that is hinted in the ending of the movie.
So did I like the movie? Yes.
Was it the best thalaivar movie that I saw? Not sure. Since this is highly subjective and a matter of personal preference, this question is left unanswered.
Could the movie have been better? YES!!!! The movie could do with the following changes to be just that little bit better:
- It was at least 20 minutes too long, for a movie that was not in the commercial template, it seemed to meander like a brook instead of a raging river since it is a gangster movie
- It was too violent. If you smirk considering that it is a gangster movie, the big daddy Baasha, was violent but it was only fists turning baddies to pulp and some harmless explosions thrown in the background for emphasis. Here there were gruesome machete scenes that made my little daughter close her eyes. This in a movie certified U/A
- Radhika Apte is a good actress and her credentials are beyond question, yet she seems too frail beside the towering personality of thalaivar. I would have felt that somebody like Gouthami would have done better in the role but that is a personal choice.
- Dhansika’s role had so much promise but was underutilized and in the climax completely messed up
- The narrative seemed a little jumpy at times and the flashbacks at times seemed to slow down a leisurely narrative and could have been avoided without any loss of impact
- The climax is a big let-down, if you have seen that viral Whatsapp message about the mega serial scene with a bullet hole in the forehead, you will think that this may come a close third of fourth in the pecking order of climaxes
- The absence of a comedy track, thalaivar has his own brand of comedy and while inserting a separate track would have been detrimental to the plot, sometimes it may not be a bad thing to insert some subtle humour.
- The message of the plight of the Tamils seems to get lost in the movie, that part of the story seems muddled. Is he a trade union leader or a gangster? How did the transition happen? What kind of business does a gangster do then if he does not do the evils that the rivals do? Not completely in the realms of implausibility in the cinema world but still…
- The director had to balance between his vision and the superstar’s aura and somewhere you feel he succumbed to the aura. There seems to be a lack of assurance in the movement.
What did I like?
- A thalaivar movie without style is blasphemous and this is very stylish. Even the villain is stylish and rivals thalaivar at times
- The tattoos of the characters are really cool and the bad guys despite the excessive bling of Kishore were all quite cool looking and different from the usual henchmen
- Much has been said about Santhosh Narayanan and the music. The music director has changed the template of music for superstar movies on its head and the songs for one do not actually hinder the plot too much. The background score was also good.
- The fights were underplayed and no cars tumbling upside type of stunts were there
- The daughter played by Dhansika had a lot of swag
- The visuals were good and seemed fresh
- Thalaivar plays his age (actually he plays lesser, his age in the form says 60), but he drew tremendous applause for the flashback scenes and it did not look very CG aided.
- Winston Chao is a good villain and can be menacing but I felt he was restrained to not cramp thalaivar
- Finally thalaivar, he is a good actor and is a trained actor. At times you see peeks of his talent creeping through especially when he emotes are different places, the subtle pauses, the restrained movements all makes you connect to the actor behind the super star. Though few they are memorable.
At the theatre the deafening welcome of a full house, despite it being a week after the release and the varied reviews going around shows that thalaivar still rocks. During the movie there was some unexpected humour when:
- In the Free Life school scene supposedly in Malaysia, my daughter shouted that the classroom was her ballet class room in Russian Cultural Centre, Alwarpet. The training bars are quite conspicuous at the side of the room.
- At the scene where thalaivar sees his wife after a long and tiresome sequence a viewer shouted out a line from Chandramukhi where thalaivar says, “Paaru Chandramukhiya maariya …”. The whole cinema burst out into laughter.
A little laughter never hurt.
So should you skip this movie? You must be joking! Go and watch it. You will see something new in a thalaivar movie that you may not get to see again.