Kabali fever has gripped the nation. Offices declared holidays, airlines paid for first day first show tickets, theatres opened before sunrise, torrent sites collapsed, bus strikes were declared in Karnataka, schools were closed, Kabali da the only explanation.
Swept away in the wave of fandom, not wanting to miss out on what was surely going to define dialogue, thought and catch phrases for the nation I too trooped off to a multiplex to be part of the phenomenon.
From the very beginning, I realised that this was going to be different. Rajinikanth’s films to me were loud, melodramatic and overtly stylish to a fault and pure entertainment. But this was different. The quiet introduction of Kabali in a cell reading My father Balaiah promises intelligence, subtlety and much more. The style quotient of Rajinikanth is there but drastically cut down; gone are the cigarette flicks and the shoulder towel stunts, here is a cooler, suaver Rajini. Dressed to the nines in every scene, credit to the fashion designer for creating suits that stood out, yet fit in; just the right amount of sass.
Rajini is comparatively subdued for most part of the film, his style reduced to sitting cross-legged on chairs and uttering ‘Magizhchi’ with pointed nods and gestures. Playing his own age has enabled the actor to sink his teeth into a role and he does justice to the part. A near-permanent scowl on his bearded face, that breaks into a smile without warning adds to the persona of the feared and revered don. No songs and exaggerated action sequences break his character and most fights are with guns or props that ensure physicality is not questioned (exceptions exist though).