Kaabil movie review: Hrithik Roshan elevates this old school revenge saga

Kaabil is a far more engaging film only because of an earnest performance by Hrithik Roshan.

Udita Jhunjhunwala January 25, 2017 15:02:04 IST


When you are writing a review of a film that begins with the love story of two visually impaired adults, you consciously try to sidestep the obvious puns, lest you sound insensitive – or it’s just too cheesy if you do.

But writers Sanjay Masoom and Vijay Kumar Mishra have worked a number of those into the screenplay. Quite early on in the story, dubbing artist Rohan and NGO worker Supriya are set up on a blind date. Much later, a cop makes a reference to the adage an eye for an eye and the whole world being blind. This is a revenge saga after all.

Kaabil movie review Hrithik Roshan elevates this old school revenge saga

Hrithik's transformation from helpless lover to avenging husband marks the turning point in 'Kaabil'

The date goes very well, and before long Rohan and the ever-smiling Supriya are dancing up a storm and making a lifelong commitment to make their shared darkness a little more tolerable. Here the writers fall prey to setting up a manipulative scene of the two losing each other in a crowded mall.

It’s rather silly because till now they have managed very well as independent, self-sufficient adults. If it’s meant to make you more sympathetic towards their challenging lives in a seeing world, this does not accomplish that. However that feeling is achieved later when, after their marriage, a local goon and his friend break into Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) and Supriya’s (Yami Gautam) home and rape her.

Once more director Sanjay Gupta bows to the cliches.

Corrupt cops who are unsympathetic to the victims and ally with the politicians; local politicians who use threat and money to get their way; and fearless, arrogant local goons. If Ronit Roy is in the film you can guess the arc of his character and there are no surprises from him either, even if he does fashion a local accent. Rohit Roy plays the younger brother, perpetrator of the crime, protected by his older sibling.

Rohan, shattered by tragedy after quick tragedy, transforms into a vengeance seeking one-man army who uses his un-seeing world to derail the criminals. He sets all this up with a challenge to the cops, and at every stage seems to be one step ahead of them. While they rely on what they see, he uses his (heightened) senses – smell, spacial understanding and sound.

It’s rare these days for a trailer to let a film down, but this is indeed the case with Kaabil.

It’s a far more engaging film with an earnest performance by Hrithik Roshan. Yami Gautam is a weak link, simply smiling delightedly throughout, until she becomes a hapless victim and buckles, but her plight does not touch you the way Roshan’s grief does. Of all the times he has played someone with a physical or mental disability (Guzaarish, Koi Mil Gaya), this is Roshan’s most measured interpretation. While the Ronit Roy, Rohit Roy and Girish Kulkarni play to the stereotype, Narendra Jha plays it straight as the poker-faced inspector.

There are few small irritants though, like how is Rohan shopping in a superstore for hardware etc, why does he want photos on his cell phone and how come all the cops use iPhone 6s? The production design and art direction are two-dimensional and the dialogues forcibly affected. All these liberties and lack of attention to detail reminds one of the casual crafting of so many of those revenge dramas of the 1970s and 80s.

The songs are a bore and at least two could have been dispensed with to give this thriller the tautness required. The action scenes are tightly choreographed but that’s also their problem – the over-designed and derivative quality (with echoes of films eg Blind Fury and TV shows eg Arrow) with all the sets-ups staring you in the face. That gaping hole in the construction site and the spilled petrol in the dingy warehouse are bound to make a comeback later in the story.

If you are able to look past many of these niggles it’s thank to Hrithik Roshan’s committed performance which keeps you rooting for his Rohan all the way.

Watch the trailer for Kaabil here:

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