Film Review: Kaabil
Kaabil is formula fare at best despite an earnest performance by Hrithik Roshan, writes Deepa Gauri
India announced its Padma Shri honours a day after the release of Kaabil, about a visually challenged man's revenge upon those who cause a void in his life.
One recipient was Shekhar Naik, the captain of India's 'blind cricket team.' Being visually challenged and overcoming odds occasionally make for feel-good films but not necessarily headlines as the media coverage showed.
That is where films can make a difference with their sensitivity. Bollywood has seen great films centred on the theme; Kaabil's hero Hrithik Roshan too has in the past handled such roles with great sensitivity.
It therefore comes as a surprise that he opted for a movie, a typical revenge story, which offers nothing new, and instead, reinforces stereotypical notions associated with being physically challenged. The number of times the word 'blind' is thrown on-screen shows some callous disregard.
But then again, we are talking about mainstream Bollywood and that too by director Sanjay Gupta, whose films go for style but invariably lack soul. 'Based on' and 'inspired from' go pretty well with many of his past films.
Kaabil comes with all the precision formula of Bollywood thrillers; the difference is the protagonists - Rohan (Hrithik) and Supriya (Yami Gautam) - are visually challenged.
The aesthetics of their romance (despite all the over-the-top plot points and the unsure performance of Yami Gautam) is immediately spoiled as the film cuts the scene of their marriage to a dance-bar where the villains are heard making trash-talk about them.
You know what happens next; there is tragedy, and tragedy, and Rohan discovers that it is the system that is blind. Also entering the fray is the big 'corporator' Madhavrao Shellar (Ronit Roy), who flaunts his political power to save his brother Amit (Rohit Roy), accused of molesting Supriya.
Having lost all hope, Rohan decides to play by his rules, and how he does it with his skills as a sound artist is what makes for Kaabil.The trajectory of Rohan taking on the villains offers the thrills in Kaabil. Rohan is not presented as a super-man, and his vulnerabilities and disadvantages are not glossed over. There are moments when Rohan, compared to our typical heroes, becomes really human.
But these are far and few between as the film's predictability and rather simplistic approach to revenge makes Kaabil rather lacklustre. We are never left unsure of the outcome of the hero's moves; there is no pulsating drama or thrills. Everything just falls into place.
The saving grace of the film then is Hrithik. While he fumbles a bit in finding the groove (unsure whether to do another Rohit Mehra of Koi.. Mil Gaya), he gets into his elements soon and takes control. There are some goofy scenes too, where playing a dubbing artist, Hrithik just lets go of all self-consciousness as an actor.
Yami Gautam fails to catch up, caught fixed in a wide-eyed, wide-mouthed expression while as anti-heroes Rohit and Ronit Roy go through their roles effortlessly. It is Narendra Jha (as Inspector Chaube) - and also seen in this week's Raees - who gets a more memorable role.
Kaabil is a one-time watch that that doesn't awe you. The treatment is jaded, the story is old, and yet if it engages you, it is thanks to Hrithik, though Rohan is no masterpiece work of his.
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Yami Gautam
Directed by Sanjay Gupta
Now playing at theatres in the UAE