Director: AR Murugadoss
Actors: Rajinikanth, Nayantara, Nivetha Thomas, Yogi Babu
As Darbar opens, Rajinikanth goes on a rampage, murderous, his face bearing that trademark villainous smile. In the trailer, he calls himself a ‘baaad cop’. As the title credits roll in, newspaper clippings denounce Aditya Arunasalam, Mumbai’s top cop, calling him ‘mad’. This opening sequence is when the film is at its fun-nest. He’s not weighed down by any image or posturing here. Some making fun of human rights ensues, as it tends to in cop films that use encounters as their core theme.
While Rajinikanth the actor plays to his strengths in these scenes, in the context of what Rajinikanth the politician has been speaking tacitly in favour of — state violence (in both Sterlite and CAA protests) — Darbar is sobering.
Nivetha Thomas (who was also superb in Brochevarevarura) is effortlessly good as Rajinikanth’s daughter Valli. Nayanthara plays his ‘love’ interest who wears nice clothes — yeah that’s all. The overt references to his age, the fact that he has a grown-up daughter, that Nayanthara’s cousin comes up to him and says when he was receiving medals for his work from the President, the woman he’s interested in was a schoolgirl… all these are welcome additions, albeit a tad too late in Rajini’s masala cinema roster.
The man is 69 but is still doing hard ‘physical’ roles. One almost feels bad for him, that he pushed himself this hard, while the writing never really caught up.
Most people on-screen in Darbar speak in Hindi and the Tamil dubbing distracts throughout. It’s a largely new cast that takes a while to get used to. Yogi Babu, Nivetha and Rajinikath have some fun on-screen. And the jokes are at the expense of both men and largely harmless. Which is a welcome relief. Like the use of Kalyana Vayasu song from Kolamaavu Kokila as Rajinikanth goes to woo Nayanthara. (There are no “jokes” about Yogi Babu’s appearance. At last.)
Why Anirudh chose to give us an atrocious background score that sounds like noise is anyone’s guess. During loud fights with sound effects, his percussion-heavy “kuthu” beats are unbearable. The music in general here is very forgettable.
In Darbar as Aditya Arunasalam catches a drug and trafficking kingpin who’s a young man, he loses what’s dear to him. Then it’s on him to finish this cycle of revenge. For this, he must find who must be vanquished.
Suniel Shetty as Hari Chopra is uninspiring. The mixed Hindi-Tamil dubbing lack of sync is again a constant source of irritation. (Are directors taking audiences too much for granted with this whole dubbing thing?)
Against a cop hero who treads the greys so gracefully, you need a diabolic villain. So that the end is satisfying. Hari is too much of a regular villain and comes too late in the film, and does too much in too little time. The ‘bounty on cops’ (kill them, bring their stars and get a bounty) for instance, could have been a really well-executed sequence if done slower. The romance track too ends abruptly and one doesn’t know what happens to the duo eventually, though Nayanthara briefly appears towards the beginning of the climax sequence.
In the end, Darbar is more than a nostalgia fix but less than an average cop film.
The Darbar review is a Silverscreen.in original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.