Darbar Review: If only Rajinikanth’s style was matched with substance

Highlights

  • When was the last time you saw fans go crazy as a camera was zoomed in on the flexed muscles of Rajini

Title: Darbar

Duration: 159.38

Director: A. R. Murugadoss

Cast: Rajinikanth, Nivetha Thomas, Nayanthara, Yogi Babu, Suneil Shetty, Prateik Babbar and others

Music: Anirudh Ravichander

Rating 2.75

Hyderabad: When it was announced that A.R. Murugadoss and Rajinikanth were coming together, it surely was a matter of excitement. My immediate expectation was something that would be as awesome as a Thuppaaki meets Tagore (Ramanaa in Tamil). 

Before confirming whether or not that expectation was met, it’s safe to say that Darbar is a film for the fans, by a fan called Murugadoss. Through the film, you have ample moments that will make you clap and whistle for the matinee idol. After all, who cannot be affected by his infectious energy? Moreover, it’s not every day that you get to watch a superstar have immense fun on screen, dancing like he hasn’t in a long time, and being a part of stunts as if he was a young man. Can you imagine climbing a fleet of stairs with absolute ease and that compulsory swag at 70? Well, that’s just basic Rajini because he can do a lot more alongside that!

And to lay it on the line, Darbar is a one-man show that works only because of the style and charisma of Rajini as Commissioner of Police Aditya Arunachalam. Having said that, it’s not enough if the actor does his job because the audience enjoys the end product only if the package is perfect! Which is where we have a bit of a glitch.

But before we get to that, let’s get a few things straight. Director Murugadoss was out there to make a fan pleaser. He does a great job of it. But in the process, seems to have lost track of his strength in storytelling and creating characters. Darbar struggles for one of many reasons and in my opinion, what it lacks is a villain that can make an impact. Good performers like Prateik Babbar and Suneil Shetty are lost in poorly built roles that give them no scope to give their best.

The story of a cop who decides to be bad because that’s the best way to deal with bad would have been a better watch if only director Murugadoss put in more brain and thought into what turns out to be a predictable fare full of moments that lack logic. It’s not that you expect a lot of logic in a commercial film, especially one that is old wine in a new bottle. But you do expect things to make sense when we are dealing with issues of national security, the police department, investigations, human rights and whatnot. We know Darbar is the court of a maverick Rajini who is in the garb of a police officer but wouldn’t it have made better sense to add a little more effort into how things pan out? Especially with Murugadoss on the helm!

One bright spot in the film is surely the adorable relationship between Rajini and Nivetha Thomas who play father and daughter. We know Nivetha to be a terrific performer and she takes things to the next level yet again in Darbar. The emotional bond created between them works wonders and shines on the screen. The combination of her, Rajini and Yogi Babu does make for some decent comic relief in a film that is mostly going haywire, especially in the second half.

Maybe it’s the need to occasionally let the men take the limelight as she shines in several other films but a major disappointment comes in the form of Nayanthara who has nothing much to do except look beautiful. She does make quite a style statement in some elegant sarees through the film.

Darbar proves yet again that Rajini’s mere presence can elevate an average film and make it a treat to watch. But we want more. A lot more.

Bottomline: If only Rajinikanth’s style and swag matched a little substance, this one would have been a film that would have been worth the watch. For now, it’s a Rajini film that can be enjoyed by the fans because this is surely a decent serving of an inimitable matinee idol!

Pranita Jonnalagedda

A features journalist who started writing because of her love for newspapers, Pranita Jonnalagedda is now exploring the digital space where she writes extensively on Telugu cinema. After fulfilling a childhood dream of working in the newspapers with brief stints in The Times of India and The Deccan Chronicle, Pranita is now a freelancing journalist who has contributed to several leading news portals like Film Companion, The News Minute, DNA, Telugu 360 and The Hans India among several others. Exploring her joint love for films and writing, she covers cinema in a holistic style and covers all the related trends, news, and fashion developments. An alumnus of Osmania University College of Arts and Social Sciences from where she pursued her Post Graduation in Mass Communication and Journalism, she is travel blogging when she isn't writing.

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