Controversy
Apparently, the lyrics of songs from the Rajinikanth film have ruffled feathers in the TN government.

“Kaala is like the kaalan (mushroom) that sprouted in yesterday’s rain. If they plan to disrupt peace in the state for their personal political gains, we might have to take legal actions against them,” warned TN minister Jayakumar.

Apparently, the lyrics of songs from the Rajinikanth film have ruffled feathers in the TN government. Jayakumar in fact went so far as to link the lyrics, to Rajinikanth’s political entry, and lashed out at him and the Kaala team, accusing them of trying to incite violence.

“Tamil Nadu is a safe state. We have made it safe for our women as well. If Rajinikanth makes a political entry everything will be made right, is it? He should not be creating confusion in the state for the sake of his politics,” Jayakumar said.

The comment came hours after the release of the film’s audio, at 9 am on Wednesday. The Kaala team is gearing up for a grand launch at YMCA grounds later in the evening.

Composed by Santhosh Narayanan, the album is a mix of rap, melodies and kuthu songs. The songs lyrics have been penned by an array of writers like Dopeadelicz, Arunraja Kamaraj, Logan, Kabilan, Roshan Jamrock, Uma Devi and Arivu. The songs take on class politics, oppression and exploitation of the working class.

For instance, Poraaduvom, the song penned by Dopeadelicz and sung by Dopeadelic and Logan, contains powerful lyrics that take on a host of social issues.

Iruttil vaazhigarai nee kuruttu nambikai odu

Velicham thedi thesi veragil nee vendhu saavai 

Kanikkai peril inge kal silaikkum lanjam kodi 

Kodi kumiyudhu undiyalil 

Naattil anal panjam 

Nirathaalum mathathaththalum pirinthu vittom 

Manidhabhimanathai naamelam maranthu vittom 

Kaasin thiruvilayadal kandu naam mayangivittom 

Adaiyalam naam tholaithu vittom 

Urimai izhanthu vittom 

Naam iranthu vittom

You are living in the darkness with blind beliefs 

You will die in the woods seeking light 

In the name of offering, crores are being given to a stone statue

Crores in the coffers

But poverty in the nation abounds 

We have been divided by colour and religion 

We have forgotten our humanity 

We have fallen prey to money games 

We have lost our identity 

We have lost our rights 

We have died

The audio is a precursor to what is expected to be a ‘mass’ film with a social message – like all of Pa Ranjith’s previous films. While Attakathi and Madras had a more subtle messaging, Ranjith’s first film with Rajinikanth – Kabali – was rife with instances of caste and class struggle.

In Kaala, Rajinikanth plays a gangster from Dharavi, Asia’s second largest slum in Mumbai. Director Pa Ranjith had said that the story is about the diversity of Dharavi. In particular, the film deals with Tirunelveli Tamils in the locality.

The teaser of Kaala begins with a chorus of voices shouting, "Poraduvom" or "We will fight", placing it immediately in the context of a people's struggle.

While Jayakumar’s comments have kicked up a controversy, the film’s audio launch has also been criticised by many: People have asked whether the film needs such a grand audio launch at a time when the people in the state, especially distressed farmers, are fighting for a Cauvery Management Board. The IPL matches that were supposed to be held in Chennai were also moved out for this reason, following violent protests.

However, the film has also found several supporters. Director Ram said that Kaala does not have the same magnitude that IPL had.

“A lot of us protested against IPL because we knew the issue will escalate and gain international attention. The whole idea was to draw attention to the issue at hand. And it was a success. But since then, a lot has happened in the state. Kaala audio launch does not have the magnitude that IPL had. Protesting against this might take a different tone altogether. It might become electoral politics. Protests should not have electoral agenda,” he explained.