Imagine standing in front of a tornado that’s fast approaching you at the speed of 280mph. And you stand there ready to dive into it. You stay put. All willing to hitch a ride. The tornado arrives with some dizzying surround sound. Engulfs you. And carries you to a spot which is the epicenter of an earthquake. And then suddenly ejects you out into outerspace..where you are floating somewhere between Neptune and Uranus.
I think such an experience cannot be called ‘watching a movie’.
So when a lot of them seem to be let down by ‘Kabali’ because of high expectations…I feel sad. Because I feel their expectations weren’t high enough. They weren’t willing to let go….and probably wanted to be sitting close enough to the ground…and maybe take them only as far or as high as a giant wheel can . Where they still get to see ‘familiar things’ around them. Like spotting their school from up there. Or point around towards some parks and roads which they’ve seen from close quarters. And get all excited because they are now seeing the same from as high as a giant wheel.
Kabali is certainly not that.
Don’t go, if you are in it for a movie. Don’t go if you are in it for a story. For screenplay. For familiar emotions being replayed. Don’t go for technical brilliance. And certainly don’t go if continuity, logic, brilliant performances, a coherent story, great character sketches all come in as prerequisites that first need to be fulfilled and tick-boxed before you are ready for the ‘take-off’.
Don’t go if you are not willing to ‘let go’.
Go only if you are willing to get carried away. And be swayed and swung and spun and churned and thrown around by the only superhero we know who exists for real.
He’s here in his newest avatar to take you on a heady trip you’ve never experienced…not here as a cuddly grandpa to sit you down and tell you a story.
And yes, he and we, want no time wasted before we’re in the middle of this trip. Because he knows and so do we that we’re here only for that trip. Nothing else. Rest is mandatory.
Yes, since he’s decided to only meet us at movie halls, he’s engaged some mere mortals who have sat down and put together some mandatories for that to happen. If you are going to be stuck there…then you are missing the ride. The larger picture. The madness. The heady giddy mix of all things Thaliava…all things Superstar…all things that we are in it for.
I have been watching every movie of Rajini ever since he made my brain understand that there are some things in life where every part of your anatomy can be given immense joy at the same exact moment.
There is nothing more supreme than this euphoria. Everything else is a means to it.
And ever since, after having watched every movie of his, he’s only left me behind with this feeling that makes me pissed off with the people who contribute words to the dictionary. Only because they haven’t invented a word that can fully express what this feeling is.
This feeling has now grown with passing time. And now this feeling has somewhere crossed the line and now has the audacity to make demands.
‘Expectation’ makes you the higher one. Makes you and your imagination the elevated one. And then someone has to rise above to meet it. It is great when you have it in some cases…and it’s absolute stupidity when it comes to some other things. And certainly impudent and immodest when it comes to Rajini.
To me, ‘Kabali’ is a return of sorts. Right from the credit title. Where it’s back to where the ‘Superstar’ phenomenon all started. Back to those little led lights that tries to illuminate that feeling on the screen. A feeling so euphoric, that we’re unwilling to accept any word that the dictionary has to offer for it.
Rajini gives this feeling a new journey. A new path. Rajini reboots. Restarts. And goes back to a place where it all started. Back to that place where he walked into that dingy stage at the ‘Gubbi Veeranna’ theatre. Where he played the character of Ravana in a play.
A time when people queued up only to see him. He was there to show you how menacing he can be. People came to watch that. Nobody came to see the story of Ramayana. Everyone knew it. They came there to lose themselves and travel along with him.
Over there people knew the story. Over here I feel we need to assume it. Either way, the fun is only in travelling along with him.
He’s back here playing an evil baddie. He goes about killing everything that doesn’t suit his taste. Who or what he’s killing doesn’t matter or shouldn’t. Why he’s killing too shouldn’t. That part is ours. To fill it up on our own.
Half of what Rajini does lies in our imagination. Whatever he was fighting…we weren’t fighting the same enemy in our heads. We were fighting our own. He just gave us the manner in which it needs to be done. And we loved it.
We’re only back here for a refresher course. Not for a movie. To learn from a man who teaches us as to ‘how it’s done.’
And then…we now have to come back to terms that this is a movie.
Tiring to interact with people who still see him as an actor. And as an actor who acts in movies.
And then to see some reviewer say ‘his age is beginning to show’. I wanted to laugh out loud. Like the way Rajini laughs. I only want to ask him ‘where or when was he trying to hide it?’
“He’s not moving in the same speed. Not picking up the guns with the same swiftness.”
Now show me a 60 something man doing that with even half that speed. Fuck that. Show me a 20 something anybody who does that with one hundredth of that swag or style.
Infact he adds a whole new body language. That I think is nuance.
Ok…now coming back to what if ‘Kabali’ were a movie.
After the previous two disasters, Rajini has understood the dangers of the tried and tested. The very idea that he now stars in a movie like this sends out a strong signal that he’s moved on.
Rajini has chosen a guy with right kind of sensibilities.
Even if he doesn’t have the right sense.
Pa Ranjith’s desire of seeing Rajini as a menacing gangster who probably should have been in ‘lock stock and two smoking barrels’, is absolutely mind blowing.
The mind-blowing part of Ranjith pretty much ends there. And is then taken over by Santosh Narayan.
Santosh is sensible enough to understand that all the bullshit that Ranjith serves and all the awesomeness that Rajini radiates, needs a separation.
His job is now then to become a guide of sorts to bring our attention back to the screen at the right moments.
Which comes in the form of a siren. A siren that summons us back. A siren that has been programmed to release the dormant endorphins within our bodies..asking us to drop our popcorn, leave our phones alone, stop our pee midway and rush back in time to succumb ourselves to the God on screen.
And It is in these parts where Rajini takes it upon himself to more than make up for the mistakes committed by his mere mortal crew.
It’s only then when it strikes us.
That we were here only for him. Nothing else matters.