Introducing… Rajinikanth!

Posted on December 12, 2017

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: http://www.filmcompanion.in/article/southern-lights-introducing-rajinikanth

A look at the superstar’s hero-intro scenes from the time he was before a superstar.

After IV Sasi’s demise, a lot has been written about the director’s work in Malayalam cinema – but he made a handful of Tamil films as well, and I thought I’d revisit Kaali, released in 1980 and featuring a pre-superstardom Rajinikanth. The film is named after the character he plays, and it’s a name whose variants he’d adopt in many films (Murattukaalai, Kai Kodukkum Kai, and most notably, Mullum Malarum, which was written and directed by J Mahendran, who wrote Kaali as well). Seen today, Kaali is hardly a director’s showcase. What Sasi does is tell a story, and he tells it competently – but it’s Rajinikanth who keeps you watching.

It’s that star-being-born thing. Mullum Malarum was more of an actor showcase, and with Kaali, you can see that actor being phased out by a star. This isn’t to say Rajinikanth stopping acting altogether; just that the star began to become more prominent. Contrast the “hero introduction” scenes from Mullum Malarum (released two years earlier) and Kaali. Mullum Malarum is about a rough-natured brother’s love for his gentle sister. The title can be read two ways: as a descriptor of the siblings (in which case, it translates as the thorn and the flower), or as a pointer to the end, where the brother softens (even a thorn will bloom).

Continued at the link above.

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