Darbar movie review: Yet another ode to superstar Rajinikanth and a celebratory film for his fans
The first half of Darbar is enjoyable mainly due to Rajinikanth’s style and swagger.
The pre-release hype surrounding AR Murgadoss directed Darbar was all about Rajinikanth playing a cop after 28 years since Pandyan (1992). He plays Aditya Arunachalam, the commissioner of police Mumbai. With his swag and style in abundance, he refers to himself as a ‘bad cop’ and a ‘villain’. The violent and bearded cop is a ‘Dirty Harry’ who takes on the drug mafia in Mumbai almost single-handedly.
Darbar is engaging only because of Rajinikanth’s star charisma, his body language, mannerisms, and the way he is able to pull off crowd pleasing mass scenes. The film is targeted at his fans with full of ‘Rajinisms’. In Kabali and Kaala, he played characters closer to his age, which his fans did not approve. So, his last release the Karthik Subbaraj directed Petta saw him play a younger character in his late 30s and it was lapped by his fans.
In recent media interactions, director Murugadoss said that taking fan sentiments into consideration he changed the characterisation of his hero in Darbar. Aditya Arunachalam was originally a retired police officer but was changed to a man who is in his 40s and still active in service as that is what the audiences wanted from the superstar. However, other than Rajinikanth, the film is a letdown due to shoddy writing, convenient twists and turns that leave you confused, and a predictable ending without any surprise elements.
The first half of the film is enjoyable mainly due to Rajinikanth’s style and swagger. Adithya Arunachalam (Rajinikanth) is Mumbai Police Commissioner who has been deputed to clean up the drug mafia in the city. He uses unconventional methods which has the human –rights commission breathing down his neck. And in one such operation he nabs Ajay Malhotra (Prateik Babbar), the son of a top industrialist and a big supplier of drugs. But Ajay is so well connected that he makes a proxy serve his term in jail and when Adithya comes to know about it, all hell breaks loose. Ajay is eliminated and soon the king pin behind the drug mafia Hari Chopra (Suniel Shetty) comes back to India to settle scores with the ‘bad cop’.
The father and daughter scenes between Rajinikanth and Nivetha Thomas are picturised well. Nivetha Thomas fits in aptly as Rajinikanth’s daughter. There is a subtle romance between Rajinikanth and Nayanthara. There is a quiet dignity when a senior officer tells Arunachalam (Rajinikanth) that he is too old and should take premature retirement as it is impossible for him to continue in service. In the scene, it looks as though he is talking to his detractors – “Age is just a number and for me nothing is impossible!” (there was thunderous clapping in the theatre for this scene). There are many direct dialogues aimed at the fans in the film.
However, the trouble with Darbar is that Murgadoss does not have a convincing story and the narration lacks logic.
In his films like Ramana, Thuppakki or Kaththi, the hero's role was well-defined and the story was written in such a way that the audiences were sold on the idea of him taking on the corrupt system. Here it looks like it has been made for Bollywood audiences with an array of Hindi actors and Mumbai milieu. Suniel Shetty as the drug kingpin and main villain is underwhelming and lacks the menace needed. For a Rajinikanth film there are no political dialogues, though AR Murugadoss pokes fun at the media and Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala.
Anirudh’s music is hummable especially the one crooned by SP Balasubrahmanyam (Rajinikanth’s eternal voice) — the Chumma Kizhi song which is peppy. But there are too many songs and they have no connect with the story or situation. Santosh Sivan’s camera is a major highlight as it has made Rajinikanth look agile and young through the lighting and the angles.
There is nothing new in story or treatment, Darbar is just a film strictly for Rajinikanth fans.
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