Rajinikanth’s Kaala had a pan-India release, including in a few Bengaluru multiplexes despite the protests by some fringe pro-Kannada groups against the filmstar’s stand on Cauvery. The sense of anticipation was more as it’s his first movie after he declared his interest in joining politics. At first glance, it may appear Kaala will do more to give an impetus to Rajini’s 43-year-old movie career than his fledgling links with politics. But there’s a deeper meaning to be seen in his fight for the underprivileged of Dharavi. The battle of the downtrodden is neverending as the film’s unusual climax may show, and Rajini’s part in it may even help him make up for the controversial comment he made on the Sterlite stir in Tamil Nadu. He had lumped committed protesters with certain anti-social elements who may have hijacked the protest while lacing it with violence, leading to police firing that killed 13 people.
Rajini’s Kaala supports the people’s right to protest, even violently, in the eternal fight for the right to land. This could be extended to mean the environment too, which is the crux of many of Tamil Nadu’s protests against seemingly progressive projects. Rajini may have expressed the fear that the state could turn a graveyard if protests against anything and everything industrial continued. In the film, he’s the hero of the slum championing people’s causes. In Tamil Nadu, a state famous for politics led by movie stars and personalities, it’s always been hard to separate the real from the reel. Kaala can thus effectively resurrect Rajini from small blots in his early political record.