Kabali Review by Bollywood Hungama
The film’s script (written by Pa. Ranjith) is something that may not be as tangible to a non-Rajinikanth fan. There are scenes in the film that may defy human imagination and logic, but, then, with Rajinikanth at the helm of things, logic and rationalism be damned! Having said that, the script also does not fully provide Rajinikanth’s onscreen antics, something that he is known for over the years. The film’s director Pa. Ranjith (whose last film MADRAS was a blockbuster) needs to be applauded for having made a film that shows Rajinikanth playing his age. Even though Pa. Ranjith does not do anything way different from what we have seen before in the past Rajinikanth films, still he manages to keep the film engaging for the audience. The flip side is that, even though there are ‘Rajini-isms’ that the film boasts of and rests on, KABALI leaves a huge vacuum devoid of Rajinikanth’s histrionics, something that his hardcore masala fans will miss. Additionally, the film also starts lagging at many places (especially during the second half). Add to that is the film’s slow pace and irregular narration, which takes the steam out of the film. It will just not be wrong to say that it’s only the screen-presence and the inimitable charisma of Rajinikanth that rises up to save the film on many occasions.
Kabali Review by Srivatsan on India Today
As for the performance, Kabali is easily Rajinikanth’s best performance in recent years. Very few actors have matched Rajinikanth’s performance in his other films; Radhika Apte as Kabali’s wife Kumudhavalli does it here with top-notch acting, reminding one of actor Lakshmi’s role as Rajini’s wife in Netri Kann. However, apart from its leads, Kabali falls short of performance as far as the supporting cast is concerned. Pa Ranjith could have easily roped in some well-known actors from the industry who could actually bring some flavour to their roles.
Kabali Review by Ritika Handoo on Zeenews
Kabali is a poor man’s messiah—the good Samaritan who might be holding guns and flying bullets yet he is revered as great. Pa Ranjith has written and directed this open-ended affair, hinting clearly at a sequel in the pipeline. Had the storyline been something really different and not a predictable one, we would have loved it more. Although, the dubbing makes the original dialogues look a little over-the-top and superficial yet we love to see those patent Rajini moves and actions. The signature pose where Kabali comes and sits all suited-booted with one leg on the other has been beautifully captured from low angles—giving that larger-than-life feeler to his stature. G Murali’s camera work is brilliant and not to miss the action loaded punches in the movie.
Kabali Review by Sreeju Sudhakaran on Bollywood Life
There is nothing wrong in cashing on a superstar’s aura, but you need to back it up with an engaging plotline. However, director Pa Ranjith is more obsessed in being awe with Rajinikanth than write a good story around him. There is nothing new in this gangster flick that we have not seen in Tamil film before – one dimensional villains, hero remaining unharmed even when he is shot, becoming a one-man army who eliminates his enemies. The film is too predictable with very few surprises. This is inexcusable coming from such a talented director. The scenes involving The Free Life foundation that Kabali runs and that subplot involving one of its inmates, Meena, is so boring and should have been trimmed. If the first half has a little to cheer about, the second half is just a boring, dragging mess. You could see a little intelligence somewhere where the director shows his geeky love (an ageing don is named Ang Lee, while two companies of the villains are called Tony Pvt Ltd. and Stark Corp.), but there are very few. Radhika Apte gets no scope, although she acts admirably with what she has. The biggest victim is Malaysia that is shown as the land of gangsters, pimps and drug dealers, and all the Indians there are Tamilians. The final scene of the film will leave you confused. Also, for a Rajinikanth film, the film has very few punchlines. Surprisingly for a film with so much blood and shootings, its rated U. What happened there, Censor Board?
Kabali Review by Thinkal Menon on The Times Of India
As Ranjith isn’t a run-of-the-mill director, and is considered as someone whose screenplay and dialogues have hidden meanings, comparisons with his previous films are but in order. In Kabali, one shouldn’t expect the freshness in script and making style which his Madras offered. The flashback portions, on occasions, test one’s patience, and lack evenness. The songs by Santhosh Narayanan are soothing to watch on screen, too. The stunt sequences and shoot-out scenes choreographed by Anbarivu, with Rajini putting his best foot forward, is sure to give adrenaline-rush to his fans, and are, in fact, among the things that work in favour of the film, in addition to an emotional scene. The story, perhaps, needed a tighter screenplay, but watch it for ‘Thalaivar athiradi’. Nothing more, nothing less!
Kabali Review by Saibal Chatterjee on NDTVMovies
Director Pa Ranjith, who has also written the screenplay, reins in some of the megastar’s defining traits. While he is indeed Kabali the Boss, he isn’t a self-multiplying Robot. Rajini’s achievement, as always, is that he manages to hold the audience in thrall even when the film threatens to flag – this despite the fact that he is only peddling time-worn tricks.
Review by Krishnakumar Padmanabhan on Mid-Day India
In theory, this could have been a great film, but the characterless – literally and figuratively – script is not only bereft of any intelligence or imagination but also telegraphs what little plot twists it has. The resultant soggy mess of a film is thus neither director’s nor star’s. Ranjith has, somehow, managed to deliver a Rajini movie with no ‘Rajini’ in it.
Review by Vignesh Radhakrishnan on Hindustan Times
Like every other such movie, there are revenge kills and fast-paced scenes that keep you on edge. But just as things start getting wild, an emotional drama starts and puts you in sleep mode. This start-stop nature of the film will be criticised and analysed in days to come. But where the plot stutters the subtle mannerisms become the strength of the film – deft hand movements, a sarcastic smile on the corner of the lip and close-ups of Rajinikanth where the raw actor in him comes out, reminiscent of his past character roles. And that is why Kabali will be talked about, for Rajinikanth’s emotions.
Review by Shubhra Gupta on Indian Express
Actually, Kabali does make an attempt at a plot, but it is half-baked. It is set in Malaysia. The arch villain is a local. The superstar has been given not one but two young women as adoring satellites. But nothing in this bloated, overlong enterprise can hide the fact that the superstar is distinctly slower, less nimble on his feet, making the holes in the film much more visible.
Review by Jaidev Hemmady on Movietalkies
The film lacks a cohesive script and tends to drag a lot at times and had it not been for the Thalaiva, the film might have even been termed as intolerable. The supporting characters ham with a terrifying gusto and apart from Rajini, Radhika and Dhansika, who plays Kabali’s daughter Yogita, there is nothing worth watching performance-wise in the film. Furthermore, some of the scenes are quite disjointed, which makes you wonder what is going on at times.
Review by Raja Sen on Rediff
The drama is all there but as the bodies pile up, so do the laughs, and the whole thing comes together rather cartoonishly. All the actors seem to be performing in a different pitch, and — besides Rajinikanth enjoying this rare modern-day performance of relative restraint — everyone else is all over the place. At one point in the film, Apte hyperventilates with such enthusiasm I was convinced her character had been rendered mute.
Review by Arun Venkatraman on Deccan Chronicle
As the film opens, you see a Rajinikanth who is broken and bruised. Of course he still beats up goons to a pulp, but there’s something that’s not the same. The difference is, this time around, he is more convincing than ever as the ageing don, who returns with vengeance in his heart after 25 years in jail. It’s clear that Ranjith is at the helm and that is new. You don’t often get to notice the influence of a director in a Rajinikanth film, not in recent times at least. Even before his gritty Madras hit the screens, Ranjith had established his potential to play with undertones in the critically acclaimed and appreciated Attakathi. And credit should be given where it is due. There are no needless songs and even the over-the top punchlines have been toned down. It is Ranjith’s genuine attempt at showing us the Rajini that K. Balachander discovered. However, it’s only an attempt; not a success. Ranjith’s choices for cast seem to be a little skewed as John Vijay as Ameer and Attakathi Dinesh are largely unimpressive and Dhansika’s character loses its punch in the second half.
Review by Rajeev Masand on News18
The film’s first half moves briskly as flashbacks detail our hero’s rise to power, and the history behind Kabali and Tommy Lee’s rivalry. Also, a key plot twist reveals the real identity of a significant character, which subsequently leads to another major discovery. Post intermission, however, the film becomes an orgy of gunfire and violence, and any semblance of plot and story quickly goes out of the window. Is it merely enough to give fans a larger-than-life Rajni who delivers punchy dialogues, dresses like a dude, walks with a swagger, and yanks out a wrench from inside his sleeve to pummel his rivals? As it turns out, it’s not. That formula’s gotten rusty. Which is why Kabali, while definitely an improvement on Lingaa, is still a disappointment.
Review by Vishal Verma on Glamsham
The most striking aspect of KABALI is the emergence of actor Rajinikanth overpowering the superstar Rajnikanth in the film. The scene in which he meets Radhika Apte after 25 years is a testimony of Thalaivar’s acting powers. The talented Radhika Apte delivers a top notch performance and it’s her big leap in the popular format. Winston Chao is strictly okay. The Hindi dubbing is passable. Nasser is fine in his limited footage. What’s cringing is the lethargic pace which makes the narrative boringly long and of course the style Badshah of south forgot to fickle his glares, ruffle his hair (only once), toss chewing gum or something else in place of those cigarettes for his dear ‘Rajiniatics’ round the globe.
Review by Kunal Guha on Mumbai Mirror
Rajnikanth, at 64, seems like a clone of himself. His performance is like an artist’s ‘best of’ album. A signature line, a distinct manner of sliding a gun from within his cuffs to spring into action and the kind of insults that would make his opponents feel and seem small. Apte’s performance is restrained, save the scene where she breaks down.
Review by Manisha Lakhe on Nowrunning
Yes. The film exhausts everyone. As a Rajini fan, I have come away feeling demoralized. Was it the language? There is a Tamil, Telugu as well as the Hindi version. But it’s not that. It’s the lack of a story. It’s like a fanboy film. Is that why the star laughs at it so much?
Kabali Review by Indiaglitz
‘Kabali’ is a film that you should not miss for Rajini’s fantabulous acting, clap worthy dialogues, and sparkling emotional moments. A more powerful story and a tighter screenplay would have made it much better.
Review by Meeta on Wogma
In fact, even Kabali’s catchphrase is outright lame. It all boils down to Rajinikanth’s delivery to make it as stylish as he possibly could. And yet it doesn’t work. Other than that then, he plays his suave best. One scene in which he is overwhelmed by emotion stands out giving you a glimpse of what the actor can do despite the star in him. The rest of the film is only to serve the over-arching purpose called “Rajinikanth”. In that too, Radhika Apte tries to hold her ground. You can tell she is trying to blend into the genre but can’t help herself every once in a while. The other members of the cast overdo everything with shrills. It becomes repetitive and annoying.
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- Sultan – 3.3 stars
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- Phobia – 3.3 stars
- Waiting – 3.3 stars
- Sarbjit – 3 stars
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- Laal Rang – 2.5 stars
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- Housefull 3 – 2.2 stars
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- 7 Hours To Go – 1.8 stars
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