Am I the only one who feels that a Rajnikanth film these days is not able to gather enough euphoria and create that much hype and excitement like it was say a decade back? His last flick Petta was an enjoyable outing for me. Kaala was not bad but Kabaali nor 2.0 could live up to its billing. As far as the genre mass is concerned, the actor has set his own style and standards. None of these films that I listed here could go all the way though Karthik Subbaraj being a fanboy of Thalaivar tried his best and was quite successful in exploring some of the massy style of the actor in Petta.
Darbar had reasons to build on some sort of curiosity and celebration among the audience and the factor for that excitement is the actor joining hands with director A.R.Murugadoss for the first time. I would borrow words from the director himself to explain how Darbar is. It’s an action film and a hundred percent old-school cop thriller. With an ordinary, predictable and familiar plot and settings, what makes Darbar watchable and enjoyable is the style, mannerisms and energy level of The Superstar.
Aditya Arunasalam is the Mumbai City Police Commissioner who is nicknamed the mad cop. He goes on a killing spree and the targets for this daredevil police officer are goons and gangsters. What awaits him during the course of this cleansing act and how he deals and handle some critical turn of events is what Darbar narrate.
Muragadoss as a filmmaker hasn’t tried to bring anything unconventional nor has he used anything new to narrate the story. As I said, the subject has been told in so many films and in that way the whole premise, the route that the story is heading up to and the incidents that we see might look to be easy to guess with cliches. So some extra presence or element should come in aid to save such a story. It is here that Rajnikanth’s superstar avatar brings to the table. His action styles, timing in whatever he does and the punch dialogues especially the one-liners that he deliver in his signature style gives Darbar a much needed facelift. While the first half primarily focus on action, comedy and mass situations, the latter half gets emotional with some sentimental situations getting prominence.
Darbar is not all about action and thrills. It has a nicely placed emotional phase that explore quite convincingly the relationship between a father and a daughter. It has comedy at appropriate moments to tone down the serious mood of the narrative. But the romantic track involving Rajanikanth’s character and Lily, enacted by Nayanthara was an offtrack that only helped in bringing down the momentum and also extending the running time.
There are couple of well choreographed and neatly executed action involving Rajni and the best of the lot was the one taking place at night at the railway station. One area that I was disappointed was with the ordinary introductory scene of Rajni. We all expect the introduction as well as interval blocks to be high on energy and mass but for strange reasons, Muragadoss limit these scenes to end up as low profile ones. He could have used the superstar’s mannerisms and style which he only can do in a much more elaborate manner something which I expected. Also the absence of a strong or rather I should say half-baked antagonists created a big vacuum in that department. Moving on to how the film finally folded, it looked like a rushed climax. Logics goes for a toss at many places but who cares for that in a Rajnikanth film.
Yes he is aged now and his superstardom is somewhat fading (again it is a debatable topic) but as I said there is something that he alone can bring. That’s what happen in Darbar as well. Rajnikanth’s screen presence and his trademark style when he does mass sequences helps the film a lot. In the emotional scenes too he excels bringing an element of grace to it. Nivetha Thomas is best performer in the film if we take away the Rajni factor. The combination scenes mostly emotional or light-hearted between her and Rajnikanth created lot of impact in a film where a major portion of the narrative is focused on heroism and action.
Nayanthara who is casted as the heroine to the protagonist could not create any sort of impact though the scenes involving the two brought back memories from the past. Eventually it turned out to be a very ordinary character for her that looked suffocated between the story and The Superstar. Yogi Babu could evoke some genuine laughs in-between to make things a little lighter. Sunil Shetty’s character Hari Chopra was given a huge buildup but when finally he appeared it didn’t have that sort of an impact required for a villain. Santhosh Sivan has done his part behind the camera with some fine shots and colour tones befitting Mumbai city. Music scene is largely on the average zone if an analysis is done on the songs. Coming to the background score, it was apt to elevate the mood of the situations but still I felt a film of this magnitude demanded much more on the BGM side.
Reviewed by Chandra Mohan Gopinath