Director: Sanjay Gupta
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Yami Gautam, Rohit Roy, Ronit Roy
Kaabil is a B-grade genre film elevated by the blazing talent of its lead player – Hrithik Roshan. Hrithik invests so much sweat and sincerity into this slim story that he forces us to stay invested in it.
He plays Rohan Bhatnagar, a smiling, resilient, blind man who transforms into an avenging angel after local goons destroy his happy marriage. What’s refreshing is that Rohan and his wife Supriya, who is also blind, aren’t asking us to pity them. Both are independent, working individuals who find love. Or as he tells her – it was love at first sight. But the younger brother of a local corporator ensures that the fairy tale ends in tragedy. The cops, who don’t want to ruffle feathers, won’t help. So Rohan relies on his smarts and skills and designs a brutal punishment.
Kaabil should have been constructed as a taut thriller but director Sanjay Gupta and writer Vijay Kumar Mishra stretch the narrative.The love story takes too long and the songs – especially the ones in the second half – are just road blocks.
The camerawork by Sudeep Chatterjee and Ayananka Bose is first-rate but the digitized backdrops are plain tacky. Despite these bumps, the first half is gripping. The predictable plot takes a few surprising turns. Yami Gautam adds a sweetness and effervescence to the story. And Hrithik skillfully embodies a man whose life is shattering in slow motion. It’s the revenge saga of the second half where Sanjay loses his hold.
Kaabil is a one-line story – blind man seeks revenge. We knew that from the promos. So the only question is: how does he do it?
Rohan’s methods are at first, ingenious but the novelty wears off with repetition. Logic of course checks out entirely. Why would a powerful politician go anywhere without adequate security? Why are the cops so dim-witted? And where do the neighbours in this bustling colony disappear when heinous crimes are being perpetrated in their midst? But we can’t ask these questions. Actually, I’m happy to ignore logic as long as story stays compelling. But that doesn’t happen here. The problem is also the villains – real life brothers Ronit and Rohit Roy glare and sneer with ferocity but these characters feel like they’ve stepped out of a 1990s film. They have no memorable lines or nuances.
It’s up to Hrithik then to save the day and he doesn’t falter. The story becomes increasingly implausible and the violence, ugly. But there is such conviction in his courage that you can’t look away. Eventually then, Kaabil doesn’t match Hrithik’s calibre but I’m going with three stars. His performance demands it.