What is the effect of the movie Kabali on Malaysian Indian Youths?
Over the past month both before and after the release of the Rajinikanth movie, Kabali, the media has been buzzing with articles on the movie, mostly praising it as a timely reminder for Indians in Malaysia on the history of their survival here.
Glowing reviews had helped raise the box office takings for Kabali’s first week of screening in Malaysia to RM12mil, said to be a record for the country but the question remains on the true value of the movie and its impact.
Does the movie really help the cause of downtrodden Indians in Malaysia or is it a mere commercialisation of the plight of the community, to boost the aging Rajinikanth’s popularity among his Malaysian fans.
The subject of underworld dons in Kabali, a pressing problem among the poorer segment of the Malaysian Indian community is apt as the influence of Indian movies on the rise of gangster culture among Malaysian youths is of course inevitable.
There are however some glaring historical shortcomings in the Kabali storyline probably due to movie director and screenwriter, Pa. Ranjith’s insufficient research or ill advice on the real Malaysian Indian situation or deliberate bending to commercial concerns.
This results in the integral personality of the movie, Tamilnesan played by Nassar, supposedly an Indian rights activist being portrayed as a gang leader. This appears to be a compromise by the young director to develop the storyline with Tamilnesan’s right hand man, Kabaliswaran or Kabali as an underworld don – capitalising on Rajinikanth’s earlier hit gangster movie, Baasha.
As we see in Malaysia and elsewhere gangsters are vicious criminals and there are no good Robin Hood style gangsters who help out the downtrodden society as often romanticised by Indian cinema. So in Malaysian history Tamilnesan would have been a trade union leader with communist leanings not a gangster.
Gangsters are a thorn in the side of the Malaysian Indian community and glorifying them does no good and this appears to be a great flaw on the part of Kabali and superstar Rajinikanth.
The movie overall is entertaining with good acting by Rajinikanth and the rest of the cast as well as interesting plot turns with lots of action.
It will augur well if the impressionable youths among the Malaysian audience can watch the movie as a pure entertainment fling and not emulate the lifestyle of the superstar and retinue of villains. Sadly this has been the attitude of the culturally bereft youths of the downtrodden Malaysian Indian community which the movie in the first place aims to highlight.
Review R. Sittamparam