Kaala is a 2018 Tamil political gangster film dubbed into Telugu and Hindi. Superstar Rajinikanth played the title role of Karikaalan (Karikaaludu). Huma Qureshi and Nana Patekar played other important roles. Pa Ranjith has written and directed the film. Dhanush produced it. The film released worldwide on 7th June, 2018.
Kaala (Rajinikanth) is a gangster of Dharavi slum who believes that the people of area have all the rights on the land. Hari Dada (Nana Patekar) is a Minister who comes up with a housing project and intends to relocate the people of Dharavi. However, Kaala stands in his way and Hari Dada never gives up. Rest of the story is how Kaala solved the problem fighting against Hari Dada.
Pa Ranjith has chosen an age-old subject which has nothing special or interesting. The film starts with a Four corner opposition with Kaala against Hari Dada (political rivalry), his son, Lenin (ideological differences), Zareena (difference in approach). But it fails to maintain the opposition or create any drama out of it. Kaala is a gangster who doesn’t care much about the judiciary. He lives like a normal person without leaving the slum. However, his son, Lenin, believes in judiciary and wants to solve the problems of the slum through legal means. Zareena (Huma Qureshi) is ex-girlfriend of Kaala and a social activist. The Four corner opposition ends towards the interval and the second half is completely the rivalry of Kaala and Hari Dada which appears abrupt.
The entire film revolves around a single problem, so there is not much scope for other aspects. It is good that there are no unnecessary duets or romance. The first half develops characters and sets the tone of the film. The interval establishes major conflict and the second half is gripping with engaging confrontation scenes. Overall, the film has a twisted tale of good vs bad.
Kaala Anti-Hindu propaganda:
The anti-Hindu propaganda is a gold mine for Tamil Nadu politics. It has been exploited several times earlier in politics. The Dravidian ideology and anti-Hindu propaganda is the backbone of the film. The director relates Kaala to the darkness, oppressed, Ravana and poor, whereas Hari Dada to light, upper castes, Lord Rama and rich throughout the film. Moreover, it has been enhanced with black costumes to Kaala and white costumes to Hari Dada. They have used the symbolism of Ambedkar and Lord Buddha for Kaala, and Lord Rama idol, tilak and rudraksha wearing goons for Hari Dada.
The ideology has been subtle until the climax as it is not explicit but towards the climax fight, they compare Kaala with Ravana and Hari Dada with Lord Rama. The climax is spoiled with elevation of minor characters and the sequences of songs featuring rappers. Moreover, the brief pre-climax sequence compares the fight between the goons of Hari Dada with Kaala as the fight between Lord Rama and Ravana. This may not appeal to normal audience. However, the film could emotionally manipulate some audience to like Ravana over Rama.
Rajinikanth is terrific as a gangster and carries the film on his shoulders. His body language and expressions are natural. Nana Patekar is excellent as a dreadful politician creating trouble for the people. Moreover, he is a perfect match to Rajinikanth and their confrontation scenes are a feast to watch. Eeswari Rao, Huma Qureshi and Samudirakhani are good in their roles.
The script is the biggest drawback of the film. The pacing is slow and awkward rapper songs during serious scenes are annoying. The director mostly used center staging but some shots have the characters placed in a corner for no apparent reason. They have used limited tracking shots which are not good. The cinematography is good with a dark tone. The music elevated some scenes but spoiled some others. The production values are grand and the sets are realistic.
Pa Ranjith has deep rooted hatred for upper castes which is explicit throughout the film. However, he should have taken a neutral perspective while directing a Superstar like Rajinikanth. They have used anti-BJP ideology to the extent of replacing saffron in National flag with blue color which may be uncomfortable to many viewers. The film could appeal to the masses in Tamil Nadu but it’s difficult to impress the audience of other states. Overall, Kaala is for the die-hard fans of Rajinikanth.