The Superstar shines as a stylish cop
Among the few ageless wonders in Indian cinema, the one man who commands absolute attention all across the film market is Rajinikanth.
Among the few ageless wonders in Indian cinema, the one man who commands absolute attention all across the film market is Rajinikanth. Entering the age of 70 and also into his 45th year in the movie world, he is one icon who has encountered the ebbs and tides of his astonishingly long career in his own inimitable style, coming up on top, most of the times.
After a few indifferent, neither-here-nor-there kinds of releases in the last five years, the Superstar gained significant ground during the Pongal of 2019 with his 'Petta'. The momentum has been well maintained a year later, with the first of the festival releases in the leap year with his latest offering, 'Darbar'. Backed by aggressive promotions all across the major film markets of India, the director- hero duo of A R Murugadoss and Rajini had covered enough territory to ensure that the film gets noticed the best during the long holiday weekend.
Playing a cop, 27 years after he donned the khaki in his 1992 Tamil release 'Pandiyan' (dubbed into Telugu as 'Secret Police'), the high-energy hero takes off brilliantly. He is the bad, sort of a mad cop, who shoots down the bad guys without blinking, in the evil alleys of Mumbai and he is on a mission. What is it that makes him declare such a ruthless war on the scums of the financial capital? Is it personal vendetta or is he on a genuine cleansing drive? The narrative answers these questions in a partial flashback mode over 160 minutes. It seems the Superstar, who continues to hold sway over three generations of post-Independence India has found a magic potion to regain his vigour and vitality, which made him stand out ever since his debut in 1975. Everything that made him the darling of the masses – the flip flop of shades, the swish of the finger and related gimmicry make a return in this film. He lords over the hapless colleagues of his in the police force, wagging a finger at the same time at the Delhi politicians and Mumbai business barons.
Tailor-made to resurrect the nostalgia his previous blockbusters evoke and showcase him as the evergreen superhero, Murugadoss packs in a hyperactive pace in the first half, which totters a little in the second when the emotional components of the screenplay take over. With Nivetha Thomas as his daughter, Nayantara as his admirer and Sunil Shetty as his final adversary the post-interval phase wavers here and there before packing a series of deadly punches in the end.
For the millions who have been weaned on the trademark Rajini mannerisms and swashbuckling machismo, the film does not disappoint. One only feels that there could have been a stronger villain to keep the pressure on the unvanquished hero, who takes it all. Of course, Sunil Shetty, not known for his histrionics anyway is content playing the mandatory grey role to elevate the Badshah of southern cinema. Prateik Babbar is adequate in his brief role as a spoilt rich brat and drug addict.