Several fans wore black to theatres to watch 'Kaala' - and they knew the significance of it, too.

Kaala Rajini fans flood theatres wearing black the colour of Ranjiths politics
news Kollywood Thursday, June 07, 2018 - 16:52

Even before Kaala released, the colour black’s significance in this film was one of the aspects that was discussed widely. The film’s teaser had clear references to the black-white divide that is of political import - “Kaala na Karuppu” (Kaala means black), “Karuppu uzhaipoda vannam,” (Black is the colour of the proletariat) are some of the dialogues that touched on it.

Evidently, Thalaivar fans were quick to pick up on this and the sea of black that descended upon theatres in Chennai will tell you how. Donning black clothes, many sporting unique black T-shirts specifically designed for Kaala, these Rajini fans confessed their allegiance to their star.

“The colour black has all colours in it. Didn’t Thalaivar refer to it? It is the colour of the working class. And I belong to the working class,” says Ramesh, before his friend Ananda Ganesh pipes in, “Kaala nale karuppu!” 

Another fan confessed to have stitched clothes in black specifically for the film, and ever since Rajini began wearing black outfits off-screen, her affection for the colour also has increased.

“For every Thalaivar birthday I began wearing black colour. This movie also has an important part for the colour black. I’m very happy to see this colour on screen,” she gushes. 

Associating a particular colour with a certain brand of politics is common all over the world, more so in India. While saffron is associated with Hindutva, representing a faction of the country that has a violent history of oppressing the downtrodden, red has usually been the colour chosen by rebels who fight against it.

In the south, however, black holds a special place in Dravidian ideology, and is often used to signify the condition of the oppressed. The colour stands for revolution, especially in Tamil Nadu. It was Periyar who encouraged members of the Dravidar Kazhagam to wear black as a symbol of protest against oppression. Since then, rationalists and Periyarists in the state routinely wear the colour to mark their politics.

However, in many cultures, black signifies death and mourning, and most times, people steer clear of wearing black clothes during festive occasions. Needless to add, world history is testimony to the prejudices black skin has faced. The history of the colour black, therefore, is steeped with stories of oppression.

While people associate all that is pure and clean with white, black is considered dirty and impure. And that is precisely the traditional symbolism that Pa Ranjith’s Kaala hopes to overturn.

There is one other colour which features prominently in Kaala - blue, the colour of Dalit resistance. Kaala is always dressed in either blue or black and the references are hard to miss. Red, which stands for communism and socialism, also makes an appearance in the climax when the screen explodes in a riot of colours.

Rajinikanth’s Kaala comes at a time when the actor has made his political intentions clear. It is hard not to notice the glaring differences between Rajini - the actor and Rajini the politician, but his fans, however, have been floored by Kaala’s ideology. While it is widely believed that Rajini the politician has made saffron his colour, Rajini the actor is all for black and defends it on screen.

In an average film, most people would not ponder the significance of colours on screen. Not many film releases in the country have hoards of fans sporting a colour theme.  But Kaala leaves an impact on the viewers and the way they look at the colour black. In Ranjith’s Kaala, the colour black is respectable; it is the colour of hard work, the colour of the working class. And it is precisely this point that has resonated so well with the audience. 

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