Being an ardent fan of the superstar, I pre-booked my tickets and watched Kabali on the first day of its release. Okay, not the first show though. Yes, I was proud. Happy! As if, I did the right thing. Since then, I have been creating slots to post the review. But, I just couldn’t. Every day, I used to stare at the blank MS-Word. To be frank, I don’t think that I have ever been hit by a writer’s block of such magnitude. Of course, I am not trying to say that Kabali left me speechless or something. In fact, I had mixed emotions about it. The movie buff in me wanted to give a 4+ rating. But, the fanatic fan in me was fighting to make it 2 or lesser.
Was Kabali a bad movie? No, not all. The story was different – more an emotional drama than a gangster movie. It dealt with relationships and the constant fight between personal and professional life that any of us generally face.
Then, why was I struggling?
I belong to that generation whose first movie in the theater has been Rajinikanth’s – Veera to be precise. I still remember how I danced to the songs and laughed at the ridiculed expressions of the actor. Next was Basha. Should I even say anything about this film? It pushed the actor’s image beyond the imaginable. The star himself had once said that Basha is his favorite movie.
Over the years, I watched movies like Thillu Mullu (impeccable comic timing), Aarilirundhu Arbadhuvarai (awesome acting), Moondru Mudichu (hideously villainous), Padaiyappa (heroism and punch dialogs), Nettri Kan (unconventional story) and many more! The common element in all his movies has been his “style”. Be it the way he walks, sits or even turns! The way he ruffles his hair or the stylish way of putting the cigarette between his lips. His charisma has always blared – “Idheppidi irukku?”As audience, we loved him for that. He was what we were not. He was what we wished we were.
Off-screen, his simplicity awed us. He came across in simple clothes and never really cared about his baldness. He was a representative of millions of us and taught us to be comfortable in our skin. We wanted to be like him. At the same time, we were secretly happy that he was like us. The air of mystery always followed him and we have always been proud of him. We used to wait years together to watch him again on the big screen. We wanted him to tickle our funny bones, looked forward for meaningful punch dialogs and wanted to get lost in his style and charisma.
Then, movies like Baba, Kuselan, Kochadiayan and Linga happened. These movies failed us. We blamed the director, script and everything under the sun. We felt betrayed.
Recently, Kabali also happened. We know that the Pa. Ranjith is a capable director. After all, we had liked his Aattakkathi and Madras. We have liked the raw tunes of Santosh Narayanan. But, we went for Kabali for the superstar. We were not bothered about the complexity or the depth of story. Screenplay or the technical aspects were only secondary. We wanted to see our superstar in action. And the movie just disappointed us because that expectation was not met at all. The actor didn’t make us laugh, he didn’t say any punch dialogs, he didn’t dance or do any sort of things that he has been doing recently. He just came across as an emotional man (like any of us), fighting his own demons and living his life. He repeatedly uttered “Magizhchi” and disappointed us.
At the end of it, I felt bad myself. A fan has to accept the actor holistically. He should not restrict his hero within the constraints of expectations set by his past performances. Rajinikanth would still be doing negative roles, if he didn’t take that bold step to do heroism. If he didn’t try his hand on comedy, we would never have laughed. Hero-worship is one thing. But, letting the hero explore is a completely different thing. As long as we get to watch some meaningful film, nothing should matter. I don’t want to spoil the suspense, but ask yourself – could the climax have been any better? If Naayagan could be celebrated and acclaimed, why not this? Kabali is a movie in which Rajinikanth is an actor. It is not a movie customized for the actor. Why are we stuck in the superstar’s image and failing to see the actor within him?
Just to conclude, if Amitabh Bachchan was a part of the stereotypical films only, we would never have got a Black, Paa or even the recent Wazir.
Let’s not stereotype our superstar. Let him act his age. Let him be!
PS: I liked Kabali! 4 stars for it!! Thumbs up for the unconventional end.
PPS: Rajini sir, you are the star. We love you and that’s all!