Megastar Rajinikanth is back and the frenzy surrounding the release of his latest movie, Kabali, is no less than a festival. The film, in which Rajinikanth plays an ageing don, has been released today. Ever since the debut trailer, the movie has garnered immense attention. The excitement is such that many companies in Chennai have declared today holiday just so that fans could watch the show on the first day! Kabali and Neruppu da T-shirts are selling like hot cakes and basically it’s madness everywhere.
So, it doesn’t matter if you watch Tamil cinema or whether you’re a Rajinikanth fan or not. You can’t escape Rajini-fever.
So while every one is going crazy about the film, people must be wondering what Kabali actually means? Is it just a local word for a crime lord or is it something else?
If you go by the history of Tamil cinema, you’ll notice that it’s quite common to use the shortened version of lead character’s name as the movie’s title. At least this stands true for Rajinikanth movies, most of which have been titled after the name of the character he plays. Beginning from Padayappa, in which his name was Aaru Padayappan, to Raja Lingeswaran in the 2014 film Linga, or Sivaji Aarumugam in the 2007 film Sivaji.
It’s no different this time as Rajinikanth plays Kabaleeshwaran in Kabali.
But that’s not it. There’s more to the name Kabali than just being a shortened name. You can trace it’s origin from Tamil movies of 60s and 70s, in which the villain’s sidekick was often called Kabali. In fact, if you watch the trailer closely, Rajinikanth himself explains that he’s not a typical lungi-clad thug who twirls his mustache and plays sidekick to a villain in Tamil films. Here, he calls the villain, Nambiar, which is a reference to late M. N. Nambiar, the legendary actor who was popular for playing villains in Tamil movies. And then in his trademark style, he goes on to say:
You thought I was that Kabali? I am the Kabali.