Loved Kabali! Rajnikanth the actor is graceful all through the movie. It was a delight to see him play his age with such panache. Though there are moments of hyperbole that is expected of a thalaivar movie, what shines through most is his acting prowess and the mass scenes are not many.
Story could have been developed in a much better manner, especially in the second half. But still it was refreshing to see such a new theme introduced in Tamil cinema. Tamil people have a rich history with the South-East Asian countries, but very often struggles of SL Tamils dominate the discourse on overseas Tamils. In that respect, it was commendable for Ranjith to take up the issue of Malaysian Tamilians who were part of the mass emigrations during colonial era.
Sub-altern politics and dalit empowerment is the definitive sub-text and the running narrative of the entire movie. What I liked about Ranjith's treatment of the dalit issue is that Kabali's view of Dalit empowerment is not taking a position against other castes, instead having the courage and determination to break away the societal barriers imposed on his community. At the same time, the empowered Kabali embrances a pan-Tamil identity and takes up the cause of Tamil sub-nationalism to establish equality for Tamils in that country. He does not reject the Malay identity but works for equality for Tamils even while remaining Malaysian citizens.
This is in a way very different from the anarchist and divisive Dalit discourse that is happening in India currently where sub-altern literature and academicians accentuate the victimhood of Dalits at every instance and directs their energy at annihilating other castes (leading to even more caste conflicts) than focussing on truly empowering the Dalits.
The movie is also a protest by the Director against the let down suffered by the Tamil Dalits at the hands of Kollywood directors/producers on the silver screen and Dravidian parties off screen.
Kabali - the name and the character - in many ways carry forward Ambdekarite ideas and places them squarely in the mainstream cinema.
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