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Dubbed Hindi Ruins Rajinikanth’s Punchlines In Darbar




Starring  Rajinikanth,  Suneil Shetty, Nayanthara, 

Directed  by A R  Murugadoss

Rating: **(2 stars)

What  do you expect from a Rajinikanth  film?  Well, you have all of it here, then some more.  The A R Murugadoss touch of  special violence(remember  Asin being bludgeoned  to a bloodied death in Ghajini?) comes into play in a big way as the Thailaiva cop act warms  up towards a promised  expolsion that  never comes.

Surprisingly the climax in this  confrontational  carnival  of  melodrama, mayhem, emotions and  comedy, is  a big letdown.   It’s as though Murugadoss while writing out his love letter to Rajinikanth’s superstardom  simply ran out of steam  by midpoint.

 For  sure this actioner has a more vibrant spin  than  his other recent  films where  Rajini tried to build on his swag  by  simply  giving more  of what the  audience had  already seen. Here  in Darbar(well titled ,because that’s what all  of Rajni’s  directors  have  collectively  built, a harem of  veneration) Murugadoss takes away  the  fun element  from the  Rajni image.

The  iconic star is still a  man of the masses  fighting the  evil elements  with  a ferocity that accommodates  a distinct comicbook element. But on this  occasion the battle with the baddies is also  very personal.We get to  know  this as  the film  progresses…if ‘progress’ is what one  would like  to see in a film that swiftly spirals out of control.

 But before that Rajinikant must dance. He  must also romance Nayanthara , a very accomplished  Tamil actress  known to play powerful characters. Here  she’s just silly Lily, more freely frilly than she  would ever  agree to  be for any co-star except Rajinikanth . He still has  the  power  to make  every co-actor go weak in  the knees. And that  includes Suneil Shetty  who plays  Rajnikanth’s main adversary in  a distracted tentative  way, as if the big  scene that was  written  for the villain  never quite  made it on screen.

 Come to think  of it, finding a  match  for Rajnikanth’s heroism   is  becoming problematic  for  filmmakers. Bollywood actors  like Nana Patekar, Jackie Shroff  and Suniel  Shetty are roped in  as the  counterpoint to  Rajini’s hefty heroics. But the script invariably shortchanges  all the  other characters who stand around  unsure of where they stand in  the off-camera romance between  director and his  hero.

Murugadoss’ homage to  Rajinikanth’s stardom gives the star an agile  serio-comic  cop act which in time becomes a  cop-out,  as  everything that  his fans  could possibly want is  brought into play including a tender father-daughter relationship which  just doesn’t seem  real. Mumbai is  shot  well with some of  the action conveying a   blend  of Jackie Chan and  Anurag Kashyap.

But the  novelty  is  only  skin-deep . Rajinikant long ago   stopped  living real emotions on screen.What we see is a giant cut-out  version of  the real man who this  time takes  on Mumbai’s  drug cartel . The trouble is, the narrative drugged  in a state of  awe  for its  leading man.Every time Rajini  beats  up the goons, there is applause.

That’s  the  director,clearly  enjoying the  making the  film more than we do watching it. Making it worse is the awful Hindi dubbing which turns Tamil punch-lines into Mumbaiyya ‘paunch’-lines. While knocking  off  20 years from Rajnikanth’s real age, Darbar  also throws  all sense and sensibility  out of  exercise  of  yet another  Rajni special.

Can we please  have Rajinikanth being  directed  by  a someone who is not a fan?

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