The movie starts with an animated sequence about the importance of Land and how it has shaped human civilisation. Then the focus shifts to Dharavi – a locality in Maharashtra that houses thousands of people in the working class. As usual, businessman/politicians are trying to take over this land and our hero (Kaala) fights to protect the rights of the people. Stories like these have historically been part of Tamil Cinema but the only difference the director brings in is geography (Dharavi, Mumbai).
Now that we know the story holds no surprises, lets try to shift our focus on other elements that should excite – the screenplay, the songs, the Rajini-style punch dialogues and the action sequences. The screenplay and editing in this movie was totally out of place. A LOT of sequences in this movie can be trimmed as the slow pace of the film does dilute the audiences’ interest. Huma Qureshi has a role as Rajini’s love interest from the past and she takes a considerable chunk of time in first half. She does peep in often in second half even until the climax but there was nothing substantial about her character and I feel that she was an unnecessary addition in the cast. On the other hand, our villain politician (Nana Patekar) enters the screen just before intermission and has less screen space but delivers a solid performance. The songs lacked soul and the background music was never really catching up to the intensity onscreen. Santhosh Narayanan rarely disappoints with his beats but I just feel that probably, the production team rushed this movie to completion (Rajini said in audio launch that entire movie was done in under 90 days) that he had to compromise on the quality of his music. With poor music, the Rajini-style punch dialogues and the action sequences didn’t create much furore in the theatre. The famed, ‘Kya re setting ah?’ from the trailer ended abruptly and lacked detailing.
The streak of light in Kaala that allows you to stay till the end are the side-actors and cinematography. Samuthirakani as Rajini’s friend, Easwari Rao as Rajini’s wife and Anjali Patel as Rajini’s future daughter-in-law sparkle in their respective roles. Especially, Anjali Patel delivers an amazing performance with her Marathi-flavoured Tamil and a fighting sequence with the cops. Next up is the cinematography which was just about right for this movie and the climax was a delight. A lot of drone sequences and close-ups portrayed emotions onscreen with great clarity.
In conclusion, if you wish to categorise Kaala as a director’s film (Pa Ranjith) or a hero-centric film, it’s neither. It’s a message Rajini wishes to convey to his political counterparts. I jokingly told my friends in the end of movie that try replacing Mumbai/Dharavi in the movie with Tamil Nadu, things might start to make more sense. I don’t think Digital Dharavi is Digital India, or Pure Mumbai is Swaach Bharat or Nana Patekar is Narendra Modi but maybe it’s just me who has misunderstood the movie. Nevertheless, if someone can understand this movie better, do enlighten me what it tries to convey.
On a scale of 5, its a disappointing 1.5/5.