On a lazy day, when Kaala is being screened, one would reach theatre expecting Thalaiva Rajinikanth deliver an entertainment-packed escapist flick, a kind of cinema he is King of down South.
Kaala, however, came across as more of a forerunner and narrator of political tactical line his party may toe and voter base it may intend to appeal to. Rajinikanth has portrayed Messiah several times in the past too. But in the case of Kaala, I felt so more intensely since the film has hit theatres after the mega star made no bones about taking a political plunge, scotching decades of speculation.
Rajinikanth, essaying the rowdy titular protagonist Kaala or Karikalan, champions the cause of the socially and economically backwards and members of the proletariat class living in Asia’s largest slum Dharavi in Mumbai. He lives among and protects Buddhists and Muslims and their shelters. He foils attempts by a political heavyweight, played by Nana Patekar, to stir up communal tension in the slum pocket in a bid to develop a housing project called ‘Pure’ there. Interestingly, Patekar’s character is named Haridev Abhyankar, an upper caste Maharashtrian politico. In a tete-a-tete between him and Abhyankar, Kaala is shown as boasting about black skin tone, shared by a large populace in southern states including Tamil Nadu, as he snubs the superirority complex of the white. And it goes without saying, the Tamilian pride is also conspicuous throughout the film with even Abhyankar peppering few lines in the language in between.
I might be reading too much, but the film has obvious reference to Left movement and Kaala appears soft towards its apparatchiks, one of them being his own son named Lenin, a Russian revolutionary leader. An alliance on the cards between the Left and Rajinikanth’s party in reality? Maybe. Enough of kite flying here.
Must appreciate the director PA Ranjith for the way he has depicted the relationships among Rajinikanth, Easwari Rao (who plays Kaala’s on-screen wife) and Huma Qureshi (Kaala’s ex-flame Zareena who returns in his life). The sequence in which Kaala meets Zareena at a hotel ensures value for your money.
Rajinikanth’s reflexes have slowed down, understandably, age wise. But he ensures the style quotient is always up there. His gait, signature dance steps and dialogue delivery are all peppered throughout. Patekar’s prowess as an actor is known. However, according to me, Patekar could have been given more screen space.
The film opens with a narrative that seemingly justifies encroachment in Mumbai. Make no mistake, all of us must adopt a humanitarian view towards the plight of the downtrodden and help them overcome odds in the best possible way. But those who have lived enough in the megapolis know well how slums have been allowed to mushroom and spread over decades in the dream city that today stands choked and gasping for breath due to vote bank politics.