Kaabil is one of those wonderful little surprises that keeps your faith in mainstream movies going. Whilst most had written off the film from its trailer, in reality, what you end up getting is an engrossing, riveting romp of a revenge thriller.
At the interval point of Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil these were but some of the thoughts frantically running through my head:
I was presented with a sweet, simple love story between two blind people in Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) and Supriya (Yami Gautam) which offered all the right feels, and I was completely bought into them. They were simply just adorable.
I was given some inspiring performances that lifted the film to another level altogether, particularly from Hrithik Roshan who is completely back in his element and hits this one out of the park. It’s exactly what Roshan needed – a role that entirely plays into his strengths. Armed with his industrial size sincerity and earnestness, in Rohan, Roshan imbues an inherent vulnerability and yet lurking intensity.
I was also given blind characters that weren’t just caricatures, the kind Bollywood loves to serve up. Instead, there was a very real and honest effort from the filmmakers, to portray the world and lives of these characters responsibly.
Put simply, I was completely invested in Rohan and Supriya and their love story, which was quickly and expectedly yanked away as the story takes a darker turn when Supriya goes through a harrowing ordeal with some local thugs. Their political connections ensure that the police can offer no help or provide justice for the couple, who’s lives are forever changed.
What follows is an increasingly dark chain of events, most of which are approached with surprising maturity, which all nicely sets up Rohan’s revenge track which takes us to the aforementioned interval. Uptil this point, apart from Gupta stretching the traumatic ordeal arc one scene too far, I really couldn’t fault the film, which is a rare statement to make. At this point, there were but two thoughts violently echoing through my head. First, hats off to Sanjay Gupta – whose last outing was the horrid Jazbaa –who has managed to construct an engrossing and commendably well thought-out tale. Second – dear God please land it. I was praying the film wouldn’t be afflicted with the curse of the second half, given you’ve now got an audience to really care, and you need to land it.
I’m pleased to report then, that despite some clunkiness and stagnation in parts, it manages to keep the magic going for the most part in the second half, and makes for one hell of a riveting ride.
Kaabil is everything I look for in a modern action thriller, it’s intelligent for its genre, with such rich attention to detail in a manner that is so uncharacteristic of this kind of film, for which Gupta and writer Vijay Kumar Mishra must be applauded. It’s one of those where you can constantly see a potentially silly track or twist coming your way and at almost every single juncture Gupta manages to surprise us.
What’s perhaps most commendable is how the film doesn’t get as carried away as it could and displays marvellous restraint. In his quest for revenge Rohan doesn’t become a superhuman overnight, he doesn’t have heightened senses or become a mixed martial artist. No, he is but a man entirely consumed by revenge and will go to any means to get it. Even when he fights he does so with a helpless intensity. Also a nod to Sanjay Masoom’s dialogue which was enjoyably cinematic but didn’t cross into the realm of silly dialoguebazzi. It was filmy, without being foolish.
However the film isn’t without issue, and leaps in logic, though luckily none prove to be too jarring and a dealbreaker for the film overall. The climax fight scene, for example perhaps took one too many cinematic liberties. Similarly, the fact that Rohan and Supriya are both movie levels of attractive, or that he’s in great shape is never really addressed. Not to mention one or two scenes which are just unnecessary such as Ronit Roy’s introduction scene. There’s also an arc surrounding Rohan’s gifts as a mimic which is stretched, but again it worked within the world of the film. I imagine Kaabil will be in some ways a love-hate kind of flick which will have you entirely invested in every beat relatively early on, or have you hating it from the get go.
What’s more, Kaabil is a prime example of a film who’s narrative is hampered by having an interval, which just takes you away from the headspace of the film. It also didn’t help that the first thing you see post-interval was a horrendous item song which was painfully out of place and is merely a superimposed marketing gimmick. That stands true for the most of the film’s music, which works well in the earlier love story-focused portions, following which they just get in the way like a sore thumb.
In terms of performance, both the Roy brothers do fine justice to their villainous parts, with Ronit Roy bringing in the haunting aura he’s well known for. Yami Gautam brings in a warmth with her likeable screen presence and one really hopes to see more of her. Also, a special nod toward police inspector Chaubey played by Narendra Jha who has lit up our cinema screens yet again this weekend, given he was also in Raees.
In a world where action films understandably get a bad rep, Kaabil is a breath of fresh air and a fine reminder of what mainstream should be – entertaining without being brain numbing. With this Sanjay Gupta and Hrithik Roshan have a winner on their hands, I’m going with 3.5 stars.