July 25, 2016

Late aa yezhudinaalum na latest aa yezhuduven!

I finally watched Kabali three days after its release and for one-third the release date's price! Thankfully, that was only one of the things I was pleased about. (Big bucket of pop corn all to myself, was another.)

For a Rajni fan, this movie was unusual to say the least. While he was obviously central to the movie, he featured in it quietly, even in the first scene. His slow walk out of jail was a contrast to his usual half-run directly towards the audience when he makes his appearance. His catchy oft-repeated one-liners were dwindled down to one word. And when he spoke, it was brief. He was hardly highlighted in any of the dance sequences (for good reason), and did not--thankfully--have a young love.

Instead, he wore his clothes and wig with grace. He appeared pensive rather than jittery, and he showed some emotion--not quite that of the Rajni from the 70s but certainly not the one from even two years ago. (Yes, I am referring to Linga.) He didn't fly in the air and perform any gravity-defying stunts, he just did a couple of pull-ups. And no, I will believe until my dying day that he, and not a stunt double, did that.

What worked in the film was the background score, the music and the Super Star himself. What didn't, was the illogical and unbelievable sequences, the 'romba sumaar' (average) screenplay and the incredible amounts of violence that left me wondering what had changed since Baasha released in the 90s, where he also plays a gangster. That was violent too, but this took gore to another, completely unpleasant level.

Although there was no comedy track at all--a first for a recent Rajni film--the subtitles provided enough entertainment. In addition to translating words like 'avall' to 'My beautiful Mrs', they also explicitly told us whether his laugh was a 'tickled-pink laugh', 'confident laugh', 'arrogant laugh', self-assured laugh' or 'brave laugh'. Rajni fan or not, we could've figured it out.

For a fleeting moment, I had wondered if I should take my children and introduce them to the experience of watching a Rajni film in a theatre. To hear the crowd go crazy when the words SUPER STAR RAJNI flashed across the screen! To not be able to hear the dialogues for the first few minutes because the whistles were so loud! To watch people cry and throw things towards the screen! But I'm glad that I didn't because none of it happened the way I remembered it. Maybe because it was a weekday, or maybe because it wasn't the first day, or maybe because it wasn't Madras.

I'm glad I watched the film but I'm even more glad that I watched it alone. Just me and my memories of how it used to be.

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