Jerry Seinfeld once said, in a Seinfeld round table, that he was afraid that the show would lose quality after it became successful and when they had more money to spend. Not many people can handle success and money well and Ranjith definitely doesn’t seem like one of them. There are a lot of people who could be at fault for Kabali to turn out to be such a disappointment. I’m sure Ranjth had a lot of pressure on him while making this movie and the result makes it quite evident that he is definitely not capable of handling those so early in his career. To be honest, I did not have much expectations for this film, or for any films nowadays (mainly because apathy has taken over all my emotions lately). This film had every element in it for it to be a whopping success and a colossal failure and we can all be glad that it fell somewhere in the middle.
Here’s what I think might have happened. After seeing the reaction for Madras and how many people did not get the actual message that he wanted to put across, Ranjith would have been frustrated. That could be the only reason for losing his subtlety in writing. He was successful because of how subtle he was and his brilliant layered writing techniques but I couldn’t see any of those in Kabali. Just compare the number of frames we see Karthi reading Theendatha Vasantham and Rajini reading My Father Baliah. The former comes in a montage song but the latter is the hero’s introduction and it cannot be thrown enough in our faces. There literally is a dialogue about how birds are locked in cages and they should be allowed to fly and choose their own destiny in the very beginning of the movie. Innumerable number of bland dialogues about oppression and inequality that after a while it became facepalm worthy.
It is very evident that Ranjith is making a movie about something that he is not very familiar about. Madras was his home ground where he could play however he wanted but this is something that he took up way early and with a completely wrong team. Some characters didn’t even make sense in the film and many didn’t get a closure. The predictability score kept increasing exponentially as the film progressed. And I don’t get the argument of how a film automatically qualifies to be good when the performance was good. I’m not even saying that the performance was good in the film but just baffled by the stupidity in that argument. We all know that Rajini is not a great actor. He has made justice to his roles in a few films in the past and this can also be considered as one of those but that doesn’t make the film any better. The charisma, screen presence, dialogue delivery etc are all good for a few hours of jerkfest in the theater but in the end if the art fails, nothing really matters. Thank god there was no fourth wall breaking at least.
I was even more disappointed when Ranjith had to get as low as including claps-inducing scenes. I did find a lot in the film that irked my curiosity but things like these are a huge turn off. There actually are scenes where Rajini says a modified version of his previous popular punch dialogues. I can see stuff like these coming up in Shankar or KS Ravikumar films but this was a pain to watch. All these over-shadowed the wonderful performances in a few scenes by all the actors. It might be my fault to be distracted by my disappointment in the previous scenes but I would still blame the people who are responsible for that disappointment for my distraction. Take Santhosh Narayanan for instance. He managed to catch everyone’s attention no matter how good/bad/average the scene was. The music is the one thing that could not be over-shadowed by the other stuff in the movie. He seems to be one of those who could handle success and money well.
Maybe if everyone in the movie did not try too hard, Akshay, a friend of mine who was sitting next to me in the theater, would not have asked me to quote him in this review saying this was the first Rajini movie in which he yawned while watching in the theater. This movie was like a high school student’s essay that was written after referring to the introduction paragraphs of a few Wikipedia articles. I so badly wanted to like the film but couldn’t. I hope Ranjith sits back and thinks about what he has done so that he could make a better movie next time. I hope he talks about stuff that he is familiar about or after he becomes familiar enough. I hope I think twice hereafter before I spend my week’s food budget in a single movie. I hope someone comes up with an opinion that makes me change my opinion about the movie. I really hope.