Rating: 3 stars
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Yami Gautam
Quick take: Engaging thriller with a memorable Hrithik Roshan performance
Kaabil Review: It takes Hrithik Roshan just 10 minutes to convince you, he’s a blind man. The first few scenes of Kaabil establish the characters of blind lovers with great ease. Once you’re invested in this adorable couple and their unique romance, rest of the film becomes a breeze. Their love, their heartbreak and their tragedy becomes that much more convincing. Hrithik’s sincere performance overshadows any and all shortcomings of this thriller. Kaabil is a simple revenge saga, made unique by the disability of its protagonist. A blind man outwits the bad guys and the cops. The classic underdog premise is presented with precision and panache.
The first half of Kaabil is dedicated to the build up. Blind but extremely self assured and confident Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) meets the extremely beautiful and fiercely independent Supriya (Yami Gautam). They look like a match made in heaven, but they don’t instantly agree to courtship. Slowly and steadily they convince each other that two blind people can actually be a successful pair. But the moment their fairytale romance is consummated, tragedy strikes in the form of the unruly Amit (Rohit Roy) and his MLA brother Shelar (Ronit Roy). Amit and his friend rape Supriya and the politically connected elder brother prevents the cops from helping out the young couple. Frustrated and broken, a helpless Rohan takes up vigilante justice to punish the offenders. With a lot of similarities to the Korean flick Broken (2014), the girl victim in both films is referred to as Su, Kaabil still sets itself apart. The emotions and the characters of Kaabil, the lead pair particularly, is strong and compel the viewer to empathise with their romance and subsequent tragedy. Brothers Rohit’s and Ronit’s characters are menacing but they’re also stereotypes. They are the classic antagonist tropes of action films, guys who talk shit and do everything to look evil. You’d want to hate them for what they do to a perfectly happy and in-love couple. But you just can’t believe how hopelessly one dimensional these roles are. With a little more effort, director Sanjay Gupta and his team of writers could’ve designed better and more authentic antagonists. That would’ve only made Kaabil a better film.
Amongst all its shortcomings, none are more serious than the pace of Kaabil. This movie takes too much time to establish its conflict and premise. The entire movie should have been wrapped up in a breezy 90-odd minutes, a good 30 minutes less than it takes to unfold on screen. Thankfully, Hrithik Roshan’s superlative performance hides most flaws in this brooding thriller. While the build up is slow, it does allow Hrithik to convince you in every single way that he’s truly a blind man with rare gifted talents. The way he conducts himself looks like a confident and wily man who’s above his physical handicaps. Moments like the song Mon amour, where one of the finest dancers of our generation, Hrithik Roshan, convinces you he’s dancing alright for a blind man just adds to the ethos of the character. The actor never comes across as someone struggling to portray a handicap on screen. His looks, behaves and lives out a blind man and that makes all the difference. Yami Gautam does well at handling the handicap nature of her role as well. While she has a shorter role, her innocence and charm draw you in and keep you hooked.
The second half of Kaabil is dedicated to the action. Hrithik’s character plans and plots three assassination scenarios that have sincere Dexter aspirations. He plans the murders like the perfect crime scenes and to see them unfold is novel in its own way. There’s none of the bulging muscles and slick stunts action. Just a regular melee of desperate individuals struggling to survive. Both halves put together Kaabil serves up a staple fare of romance, action and drama. There’s some peppy music on offer as well. But none of the film’s frills match up to the Hrithik Roshan’s efforts. He carries this film on his capable shoulders. His perfectly nuanced performance is the reason you’ll enjoy the thrills of Kaabil