The world of Indian cinema has witnessed a surge in gangster dramas, particularly after the massive success of Yash’s KGF. R Chandru’s Kabzaa, starring Upendra, Kichcha Sudeep, and Shriya Saran, is the latest entrant in this genre. With its evident inspiration from KGF in terms of aesthetics and narrative, Kabzaa sought to capture the same magic. However, as we delve deeper into this review, it becomes evident that the film fails to live up to its lofty ambitions.
Kabzaa Plot Overview
Kabzaa opens by introducing us to Arkeshwaran, an Indian Air Force pilot who initially comes across as a saint-like character. He harbors a deep affection for Madhumathi, the daughter of King Veer Bahadur (played by Shriya Saran), but lacks the courage to confess his feelings to his mother. The story takes a tragic turn when Arkeshwaran’s brother, Sankeswaran, meets a gruesome end, losing his life and being beheaded. This event marks a turning point in Arkeshwaran’s life as he transforms into a formidable mafia leader.
The film’s runtime is 2 hours and 16 minutes, with the Tamil dubbed version feeling even longer, primarily due to the cringe-worthy dialogues and repetitive action sequences. Right from the beginning, Kabzaa bears an uncanny resemblance to KGF in terms of its color palette, editing style, and visual presentation. Unfortunately, instead of carving its own identity, Kabzaa constantly evokes a sense of déjà vu as Upendra’s character goes on a rampage, beheading one villain after another.
Flaws in Execution
R Chandru’s film takes itself exceedingly seriously, attempting to masquerade as a content-rich cinematic experience. However, upon closer examination, the film’s storyline turns out to be disappointingly thin. It heavily relies on voice-over narration to convey information that viewers can easily grasp through visuals and dialogue. This over-dependence on narration serves as a prime example of how voice-overs should not be used, especially when they fail to enhance an already lackluster narrative.
One of Kabzaa’s glaring issues is its one-dimensional character development. Arkeshwaran’s character is reduced to a killing machine, with new targets being presented to him at frequent intervals. He dispatches these villains with minimal effort, leaving no room for suspense or emotional investment in the story. Even his attempts at romance with Madhumathi fall flat, lacking any genuine chemistry or emotional depth.
Predictability is another major stumbling block for Kabzaa. The film adheres to a formulaic and predictable trajectory, and the caricatured portrayal of the villains fails to add any substance to the story. One particular antagonist, played by Nawab Shah, even sports a tattoo that reads ‘cruel,’ a painfully obvious attempt to signal his malevolence to the audience. This lack of subtlety further diminishes the film’s impact.
Performance and Music
The performances by the lead actors, including Upendra, Sudeep, and Shriya Saran, do little to salvage the film. While these actors are undoubtedly talented, their characters in Kabzaa are poorly written and lack depth, leaving them with limited material to work with. Consequently, their performances come across as uninspired and unremarkable.
Ravi Basrur, who gained recognition for his captivating music in KGF, disappoints with his work in Kabzaa. The film’s soundtrack and background score are not only forgettable but also excessively loud and jarring. This choice of music does a disservice to the audience, making it difficult to engage with the film on an emotional level.
Kabzaa had the potential to become another cinematic gem for the Kannada film industry, following in the footsteps of KGF. However, it falls woefully short of realizing this potential and ends up as a laughingstock among the audience. The film’s only redeeming quality is the ‘surprise’ in the climax, which hints at a possible sequel. Despite its predictability, this sequence is executed tastefully and offers a glimmer of hope for the franchise’s future.
In conclusion, Kabzaa, while heavily drawing from the successful KGF formula, fails to establish its unique identity and falls flat in terms of originality and execution. The film suffers from a lackluster storyline, one-dimensional characters, predictability, and an over-reliance on excessive voice-over narration. The performances of the lead actors, although talented, are hindered by poorly developed characters. Additionally, the deafening and uninspiring music by Ravi Basrur further detracts from the overall viewing experience. Ultimately, Kabzaa misses the mark and, despite its potential, fails to live up to expectations.