Kaala – A Pa. Ranjith Movie

This is not exactly a review to convey that the movie is good, great, epic and neither it is a critique to say that the movie is bad, worse or worst. This is just an opinion about Kaala. Kaala is written and directed by Pa. Ranjith. This is the second outing for Pa. Ranjith with Super Star Rajnikanth after Kabaali. As a Rajni fan all I wanted was a better film than Kabaali and as a Ranjith fan, I wanted a movie like Madras. What I got is the big question to my very own self.

Ranjith with his strong ideologies wants to convey a lot through this medium. This is not a simple task all by itself. Along with it he has to cater to Rajni and everybody loves, the Rajni from the Mahendran era, and then the usual Thalaivar fans who want some occasion to celebrate the festival of a Thalaivar pada release. While trying to pull all these three together Ranjith struggled to excel. I wouldn’t say that he failed in doing so, but the end product is really good but somehow I felt it is incomplete. I would suggest the people who watched the movie to read ahead as it contains heavy spoilers.

Let us see in detail about all three aspects and try to see if he had succeeded. The first and foremost anyone looks in a Ranjith movie is his ideology and symbolism. I would say that he not only succeeded but rather he excelled in conveying his ideology in this movie. The symbolism of metaphor that equates Kaala to Ravana and that says the story from his point of view. Also, his placement of Buddha, Ambedkar and Periyar in the scenes are pretty neat and organic. But the dopaedelicz-the hip-hop band of Dharavi felt protruded. That was not the case the with the hip-hop band in Madras, they blended perfectly in the narrative. Sometimes the ideology and symbolism were also forced. Some oxymorons are hard to be missed, while he believes in educating many a time, the scenes that suggested the idea of revolt by violence. One can ignore it if it was considered just another action movie but as the director wants it to be the voice, it feels a bit misleading. Although a majority of the references and symbols of Ramayana is used to portray the other side of the story and somewhere I feel it was stranded.

The second aspect is serving the Actor Rajnikanth and creating an interesting movie. Yes, I have combined two different aspects together as it has more in common. We saw a glimpse of Kaali in Kabaali. That was more than enough for a fan like me. But on a second view, I needed more and it was not there in Kabaali. Ranjith seems to have corrected some of his mistakes from Kabaali and gave a better film in Kaala. What makes Kaala a better and an interesting one is the support of the supporting characters. Here, we have an old age Don Kaala who is living in Dharavi along with his family. We get to know his wife Selvi (Eswari Rao) who plays her role extra-ordinarily. She is the lifeline of Kaala. We get to know his son Selvan is his commander and his son Lenin who doesn’t believe in Kaala’s methods. Not only that, we could see Lenin’s girlfriend Charumathi aka Puyal, who serves the whole purpose. Dileepan in the role of Selvan has done a great job in action sequences and Manikandan as Lenin totally wows you but it is Anjali Patil of Newton fame who just steals the show. Her character is well written, you can very well relate her to your next door girl. Last but not the least you have Zareena, ex-lover of Kaala played brilliantly by Huma Qureshi. All the women are empowered and they have their own character. But on the whole, how are they serving the bigger purpose of the story is what matters. Kannamma song is well shot and gives you not only a glimpse but an elaborate feast of the Vintage Rajni. Samuthirakani did a terrific job and hope he acts more often than directing. Any movie is good if it’s villain role is engrossed in the minds of the populace. Nana Patekar as Hari Dhadha swoons through his performance. You can see the tension when both the actors share the screen. It was a pleasure to watch two veterans fight each other on screen (not literally though). At times you even feel, Kaala doesn’t match Hari Dadha, yet Kaala instils fear in Hari Dhadha. Despite having a worthy villain after ages you feel something is missing in the movie. The climax is brilliant and completely satisfying. Ranjith throughout the movie killed the star and showed the human. Any idea is beyond the person is what he wanted to convey and through the climax, he succeeded in conveying it. Ranjith cleverly killed many of the mass moments in the movie which may not be satisfying for a Superstar fan but thoroughly satisfying for a Rajni fan. Some of the scenes such as Kya Re settinga, when Kaala’s house is lit, Drunk scene in the jail, the scene before the accident and above all, interactions with Selvi. These moments humanised the actor/image and made us feel for the character. But suddenly after the death of Selvi, there was no time to breathe, there was no space given for the audience to mourn and relate to the turmoil of Kaala, it feels like just another incident. Similarly, with Zareena, the character’s purpose is not deep, although the performance was extraordinary you cannot root for her and you have no clue why the character is brought in. Just like many I too felt that more screen space to Puyal would have been awesome. As a sequence, the movie had a lot to offer but on the whole, it felt a bit incomplete.

The final factor is the commercial aspect. What a superstar fan expects from a movie is a few so-called MASS Scenes and punchlines from the actor. To add necessary hype a rocking BGM is what one needs to satisfy. In the process of humanising the superstar, Ranjith was unable to cater to the needs of the Mass audience who came expecting a mass action film. As he never promised it to be a Mass commercial entertainer it’s not fair to expect the same, but the bridge fight, the pre-climax fight and the interactions with Hari Dhadha gave enough goosebumps to the Superstar fans and yet they felt incomplete as they got very less of what they wanted.

Now one might have a mixed feeling of what I am exactly saying about this film. The movie is not a great film, but it worked for me. I enjoyed the movie and yet at the end, I felt that the movie was somewhat incomplete. I felt that the movie wanted a lot of things and did some of them pretty clearly but failed in doing many more things. When you want to do a lot of things within available space, you might not be able to give everything perfectly. That is what happened with Kaala. I won’t say it is a bad film, you can very well enjoy the movie for some great performances from the main and supporting casts, brilliant sequences, some mass moments, metallic BGM, lots and lots of symbolism and voice of the oppressed. But at the end of the day you might feel something is missing, it might not be as complete as a movie.

Before signing off I would want to convey a few things. Just because a movie is doing a lot of things we cannot say it is a great movie, rather than what it is trying to do or how it plays a major role. Loving the movie for the sake of ideology and hating the movie for the sake of ideology does not make much of a difference. I saw a lot of people hating the movie terming it Anti-Hindu and that made me feel ridiculous. Of all the things, Ranjith said, this is not one of them. The interpretations can grow as much as it can and here it could be-  “There are a lot of good people who are termed as Ravan and a lot more demons who are disguised under Ram’s name”. It gave a lot more space for interpretation.

This movie might not have achieved the best movie ever made status but it did bring a lot of conversations to the mainstream moviegoers. In this aspect, Ranjith succeeded in his way. But I really wish to see Ranjith making a movie to the standards of Madras where you can relate to each and every character and you can relate to the struggle of the people and organically understand the struggle.

As one of my friends termed, Ranjith has completed his Educate, Agitate, Organise and Revolt trilogy with Madras, Kabaali and Kaala, what next makes me feel excited. I hope Ranjith soon makes a film where there are no compromises and not only ideologically but also cinematically a great movie.

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