Movie Review-Kaalaa (TAM): The Dirt Takes On The Pure In Kaala
Pa. Ranjith, combines the untameable power of the masses symbolically into a single character and casts Rajinikath to portray it, says Sriram.
On Jun 08, 2018


It is said that there is only one Super Star. An actor becomes a Super Star when the masses get behind him. Kaala is all about the masses. The crowded black masses in a pure white world which can unite to challenge the privileged who desire a ‘purer’ world. Pa. Ranjith, combines the untameable power of the masses symbolically into a single character, ‘Karikaalan’ and casts Rajinikath to portray it. The result is an infectious explosion that doesn’t shy away from charging into its pinpoint targets with all its rage.

The first half of Kaala is all about the settings. The race of mankind for land is well narrated and is extended to Dharavi where the ‘Tamil makkal’ holds all the aces in a piece of densely populated land in the heart of Mumbai city. The tussle between those in power and the ‘makkal’ whose power rests entirely in their living bodies forms the crux of Kaala’s first half. The movie easily overcomes the challenge of repetitions crossing the line of being cliché through its freshness and energy that binds the viewer to the screen. Pa. Ranjith sets his targets loud and clear, taking his time before the impending shootout. Yet, the interval leaves the impression, what passed could have been a bit shorter. As expected, the movie rapidly shifts gears from there, smoothly fuelled by the politics and emotions set up earlier. The name ‘Kaala’, and the metaphor of ‘dirt’ in a ‘clean and pure’ world pointing to the slums in Mumbai forms the roaring soul of the movie. Pa. Ranjith scripts the agitation brought about by the dirt with perfection, exploiting what Rajinikanth can bring onto the table. The agitation leads the oppressor who believes he is born to rule, to eradicate what he sees as dirt in his eye. But the movie proclaims that what’s black inside the eye is not always dirt. What makes Kaala standout from the numerous movies, where a leader saves the slum from the corporate is that ‘Karikaalan’ doesn’t change anything. He simply guards the ‘makkal’ and dissolves into the masses as a movement. Kaala opens and closes with the same slogan that the land that rightfully belongs to the ‘makkal’ should be theirs. Repetitions from Pa. Ranjith and Rajini’s previous flick ‘Kabaali’, protrudes in multiple instances, but most of them fell in the flow of Kaala well even if not perfect.

Pa. Ranjith uses Super Star Rajinikath to perfection in Kaala. The director does an extremely good job in taking on the challenge of extracting the unreal crowd pulling

capacity of the actor without going over the top. Nevertheless, he doesn’t forget to showcase the excellent actor that Rajini is. Rajini’s energy is as irresistible as ever in the movie, very often showcasing he is also a master of subtleties. Nana Patekar as ‘Haridhadha’ forms the perfect foil for ‘Karikaalan’ portraying the anger, agitation and the mask of peace with perfection. Eeswari Rao as Selvi, also matches Rajini with her captivating on-screen energy. While the rest of the cast including Samuthirakani, Manikandan and Anjali Patil did an excellent job in contributing the explosion that Kaala was, Huma Qureshi clearly came short playing a very pivotal role in the movie.

Santhosh Narayan’s music is another highlight of Kaala. The music plays a pivotal role in maintaining the extreme levels of energy in Kaala. It may not be outright catchy or emotional as it was in Kabaali, but it serves the purpose almost to perfection. The songs have the potential to take over the ears with repeated listening. ‘KatravaiPatravai’, ‘Poraduvom’ and ‘Theruvilakku’ carries glimpses of the soul of Kaala, i.e battle and agitation for survival.

Based on the struggle of the ‘Tamil makkal’ in a non-Tamil region in India, Kaala takes extremely political stands and clearly locks its target in the current political scenario of India. The movie asks for the politics of the viewer, without doing anything to appease the ones who would fall in its opposite side. It claims to stand in the side of humanity and solidifies its claim by throwing back to back instances that one would catch regularly in the daily news, expertly placed in the flow of the movie. At the same time, with a superstar like Rajnikanth, there lies the risk of the masses forgetting that cinema is purely a director’s art, and the actors are more or less mere performers, especially now that Rajinikath is marking his entry into active politics.

Kaala is not about a person. ‘Karikaalan’, the character played by Rajinikanth overflows with mass in the literary sense as well. Kaala is all about the people behind ‘Karikaalan’. It's about the masses, the movement and the power of the oppressed, against the neatly whitewashed dark desires of the privileged. The power and the confidence, or in other words the ‘mass’, the protagonist brings about simply mirrors the colossal force that comes real when the oppressed unites, almost wiping away the out-of-the world factor usually associated with mass movies.

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