Dharavi in Mumbai is helmed by Karikalan or Kaala (Rajinikanth) who is a migrant from Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. While he is seen as a gangster, Kaala is the saviour and protector of those who live in Dharavi. It’s when politician Hari dada (Nana Patekar) who is on a mission to take the land from the people of Dharavi for his Pure Mumbai project that things start heating up. And it’s in this issue that Zareena (Huma Qureshi), Kaala’s old flame gets embroiled in. Does Hari dada get the land? What happens to Kaala when he tries to protect his people from the land-grabbers? How do they flight back?

After a disappointing ‘Kabali’ from director Pa Ranjith, Rajinikanth fans have a lot of expectations from ‘Kaala’. In this film too, the director talks about the power-hungry and the oppression of the poor. The plot revolves around how land has always been a point of dispute between people ever since man existed. Who owns Dharavi is the big dispute that causes the rivalry between Kaala and Hari dada and is the crux of the film.

The movie gets off to a slow start and picks up pace just before the interval. Some of the elements could have been cut down like the love track with Huma Qureshi which is reminiscent of a first love in ‘Kabali’ as well. A song or two could have been done away with as well to quicken the pace.

There are some very interesting action scenes that have been woven around Kaala (like the umbrella fight). The movie does have solid punch lines for Rajinikanth fans and there is also some nice Rajini comedy. Nana Patekar is an excellent ‘villain’ and his subtle but strong performance stands up superbly to Rajinikanth’s. The scenes where they confront each other are well written and shot by the director. Ranjith has also been clever to bring out a Ram versus Ravan contrast between them but then here white becomes evil and black or Kaala good. So the black versus white gets turned upside down. As we move towards the end, the climax is definitely one of the highlights of the film.

One must mention the cinematography by Murali, BGM by Santhos Narayanan and editing by Sreekar Prasad.

Rajinikanth looks very stylish and at the same time apt for his age. He delivers his dialogues with swag and his mannerisms and body language still prove he is the Superstar. ‘Kaala’ is a Rajinikanth film all the way with some punch, action, comedy and a voice for the masses.

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