I had always wanted to write a movie review. I’ve been quite inspired by the blog of Mr. Baradwaj Rangan, and I love the way he writes about movies, the passion, the sarcasm and the discussion thread. But since I am living in the cinematically barren land of Burundi, I have no hope of reviewing movies first hand and by the time I watch anything, another thirty movies would have already been released. So I was thrilled that Kabali was releasing during my trip home and super excited like every other super star fan… Finally I got to watch it today, and here goes my two cents along with a million other reviews of it.
First of all, I feel the biggest mistake of the movie was, the team had not managed the expectations of the movie well. This is not a Rajini movie or a P. Ranjith movie. This is a gangster movie. Period. Hence it follows that THIS movie should not have got U certificate. If like Billa, they had gone for the proper certification, and managed expectations, families would not have thronged the cinema halls expecting a “masala padam” and thereafter left the theater sorely disappointed. Basically it is a pure marketing failure. And also a mistake from the team trying to make it look like a mass movie. Which it is not. But having read the reviews, I was not expecting… basically I kept my expectations at zero level and because of that, I was not disappointed.
Frankly, I was thrilled by the fact that this movie does not have the superstar shaking his leg in duets and running around trees. Finally! And sincerely, he doesn’t have to. Also this is one movie which does not try to teach women their place. Or women waiting to be rescued. Instead this movie has a tomboyish daughter who is no lesser than any man in her job and does not need to be rescued… I know her characterisation was not really appreciated. But I was enthralled by her super cool look and badass attitude. And this coming in a Superstar movie, has given me goosebumps. (I am so used to seeing determined women shown as headstrong and arrogant, eg. Mannan and Padayappa, women who have to be tamed. But here, his daughter is a gangster, but there is no condescension instead there is acceptance – acceptance of who she is and her judgement)
I know the superstar does not use Botox for his off screen public appearances. But have they used it for the movie? Is that the reason why, some of his dialogue delivery does not seem smooth? Frankly, I liked the bearded look more than the clean shaven look. (By the way, what is up with all the fake tattoos and the bling? Is this a true depiction of the people there or just the imagination of the stylist let to go berserk?)
Another thing that I appreciate was that there are no song and dance breaks for the movie and the songs were seamlessly integrated with the story. This is a welcome trend in current movies, especially Malayalam movies and I am glad that the director has taken some bold decisions to do away with many such unnecessary interruptions to the story. But having said that, I cannot help wondering if the movie could have been a better viewing experience, had the flashback scenes been tauter and the movie slightly shorter. (What was the need to show an elongated chase scene for Dinesh, which only unnecessarily adds to the lengthy and goriness of the movie? And also show the “moment” between him and Dhansika, if they didn’t plan to elaborate on it?)
But how well these decisions to do away with the clichés – one SPB intro song, one romantic song, parallel comedy scenes, advise on how women should behave, punchlines on how manly a man is, mother-father-sister sentiment, are received by the non multiplex viewers, only time can tell.