Darbar movie review: This Rajinikanth film is more about mass than substance
Swashbuckling, terrific and undeniably stylish – all these qualities match only one superstar and that is Rajinikanth. When you watch a film starring the actor, it is needless to say that you expect all this in a film. What you also expect is a compelling story to back his style. And if that’s there, you have a winner. Sadly, the latter isn’t quite present in his latest film Darbar.
Directed by AR Murugadoss, Darbar is the director’s attempt at portraying Rajinikanth as a undefeated cop, a one-man army – who is loved by everyone. Somewhere in the popular character, the film shows him as a single and vulnerable parent, an ambitious police officer and a man who searches for love. When the three combine, the result is a predictable and familiar tale that longs for edge-of-the-seat turns and a gripping plot. Despite the familiarity the best parts have to be Rajinikanth’s charm and enthusiasm. When he’s been roasted by Yogi Babu, it’s funny and amusing. You have to give it to him for being able to laugh at himself! Such a sport.
While the initial parts of the film offer surprises and twists, the second half is rushed. The story doesn’t do justice to the way the villain has been feared by others. First, the film tells us that Hari Chopra (Suniel Shetty) is the reason behind a gruesome mass murder of several Mumbai police officers. Second, he’s a drug lord and tops the list of most wanted criminals in several countries. In a stark contrast to the description, Hari is made to look less like a menacing villain and more like a newbie. In one scene, an ailing drug lord in UK chooses Hari as the new leader of the illegal operations. The very scene looks like he’s choosing a class leader to monitor students. That scene should have held more power and scripted better, revealing the smartness of Suniel Shetty’s character.
Darbar, often feels like a dubbed film because it’s set in Mumbai and actors are seen speaking in Hindi while the dialogues are dubbed in Tamil. The film’s strength lies in the fight scenes, and specially in the scenes where Rajinikanth decides to take charge to solve each puzzle of the crime.
Nayanthara’s presence in the film is brief and she has very little to do. Nivetha Thomas on the other hand, has a slightly lengthy part to play. However, most of the heavy lifting is done by Rajinikanth, and it looks like the film is made only for him. Santosh Sivan’s cinematography is striking! Anirudh’s music works well in fight-sequences elevating the tone of the film.
It’s a good thing the screenplay is swift, otherwise, without logic and substance the film has little chance to win appreciation, especially if it were made without Rajinikanth. Murugadoss clearly had to write a better story not just for Rajinikanth but to prove his mettle as well.