Whenever Murugadoss tries to escalate the scale of things there is a lack of conviction evident in his presentation. His movies largely follow a template that sort of makes them his movies and the success of those movies depended on how he convinced the audience to buy those unreal situations. Darbar, Murugadoss’s first outing with superstar Rajinikanth has the Rajini moments one would expect to see. But in terms of a convincing screenplay, Darbar is too loaded and loses its focal point.
Aadhithya Arunachalam is our hero and he is the Mumbai City Police commissioner. As the movie begins, we are shown that the commissioner is on a killing spree and the Media are calling him a mad cop. The movie Darbar is basically showing us what made him do all this stuff by shedding light on his past.
Film critic Anupama Chopra said in an interview that a movie should be either really bad or really good. The in-between ones can really give a tough time to critics. Darbar is one of those in-between movies. In my head, I am aware of the fact that this is a masala film and it has the God of all Masala movies Rajinikanth playing the lead role. And I am a person who has enjoyed watching movies like Thuppakki, Kaththi, Petta, etc. I am saying all this because Darbar feels like a movie that aspires to be in that zone of movies I just mentioned, but the bloated writing killed it. In terms of the kind of entertainment it provides, I would compare it with something like a Sarkar. Because Darbar will be enjoyable for the diehard fans of the hero as the worshipping is happening in every single scene and in terms of content it is that “well-intended”, “socially relevant” movie.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, there is a Murugadoss way of creating scenes. In Kaththi we have that speech by Vijay and in Thuppakki there is that scene where Vijay and his friends neutralize sleeper cells. Even though these are scenes created using cinematic liberty, there is a sense of minimalism that sort of works in favor of the movie. Whenever Murugadoss tries to be extravagant with his scene construction by giving it a scale, the emotional connection you feel gets lost. Here you have the villain putting a bounty on policemen and a mass murder spree happens, International police forces are asking Arunachalam whether he wants help or not (Please don’t try to be a Hari Mr. Murugadoss!) and you have a seriously unwanted track featuring Nayanthara. And the screenplay becomes exhausting after a point when songs and stunts sort of delay the entry of the villain. And finally, when we get to see a showdown between the two, it’s all done and dusted in a very simple way. Santosh Sivan, the DOP of the movie focuses on the style element. The use of slow-motion and the cuts by Sreekar Prasad makes the action look appealing on screen. It was pretty easy to find out where all they have used the green screen. Anirudh’s BGM helps the movie in enhancing the swagger, the only thing that is there to celebrate.
Rajinikanth gets to play a character that has a variety of emotions to portray. In his comfort zone of displaying swagger on screen, the actor still has the finesse and his chemistry with Nivetha Thomas as his daughter Valli was also quite impressive. There is a phase where his character is panicking and goes through emotional turmoil and I wasn’t a big fan of that acting. Nivetha Thomas delivers a memorable performance in the movie. Both Nayanthara and Yogi Babu are playing characters that are totally irrelevant to the movie. Suniel Shetty’s character has importance in the story but the screenplay hardly gives him a chance to explore the character.
As a Rajini movie with style and swagger, I would say Petta is much better than Darbar. Because in Petta I was able to see a maker’s involvement too along with the celebration of the Rajini vibe. But in Darbar, the writing and the making are on the safe and typical side making it a movie that works only because of Rajinikanth.
In Darbar, the writing and the making are on the safe and typical side making it a movie that works only because of Rajinikanth.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended