A downtrodden immigrant among many in an alien setting, leading the fight against socio-political injustice, and in the process taking an alternative road ridden with moral potholes, but doing it for the ‘right’ reasons, and thereby winning a million (minus one) gullible hearts- that was Velu in 1987 and Kabali in 2016.
Coincidentally, Velu- the name immortalised by Kamal in Nayagan, was used in Kabali too. I hope it was consciously, that the Velu character in Kabali was redeemed from a petty tell-tale to a more positive catalyst for the protagonist’s cause. It would have been sacrilege, or at least blatant provocation, to malign the name ‘Velu’ in THIS film.
This juxtaposition may be too simplistic at worst, or audacious at best. But the fact is that Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan never could, and never will, escape comparison with each other.
Both actors in their right chose respective paths, and have been achievers in no uncertain terms.
Their case is a bit like that of first cousins, whose loved ones bear the burden of mutual envy on their behalf, till the young ones are old enough to take over, and later regret it (or not).
I suppose P Ranjith tried to fill this curious hole in his heart. He has done it with the dexterity of an artist- celebrating the difference in two personas, without any vicious, self-fulfilling, unnecessarily provocative critique of either of them. Kudos and thank you!
The question is, did he know what he was getting into?