IntroductionRajnikant always had a larger than life image. This has been largely possible as he had no real challenger at all. The really talented Kamal Hassan is streets ahead of Rajnikant as a brilliant actor. But he does not have the kind of fan following as Rajnikant has. The nature of his films is totally different. The new heroes are nowhere near the mass hero. Vijay is the only hero who is trying to catch up.
Be that as it may, inspire of its initial success at the box office, it remains to be seen whether Durbar
( actually meaning rule of a dictator in Tamil) makes one wonder whether the Rajni magic will now work at all. It is high time that Rajnikant who is now almost seventy years old acts only like Amitabh Bachchan. The latter had taken to acting as a father even before the age of 60.
The major disappointment with the movie Darbar is centered around a) Very weak story and imperfect screenplay b) Too much of mass heroism c) The songs that fail to register in our minds d) The predictable nature of the story and e) Too much emphasis on crass commercialism.
Very weak story and imperfect screenplayThe same director, A.R. Murugadoss had a fabulous story about corruption, told so effectively in a film called "Ramana". The story had suspense built into the narrative so beautifully. The hero Vijayakant, had done full justice to the role. The "what next?" question was so absorbingly built into the story. It was not surprising that the movie went on to become a super-duper hit.
Even the weakest comparison with Ramana will obviously indicate that Darbar has failed on the story front. Despite the overwhelming presence of Rajnikant, even the fight scenes fail to create any excitement that his die-hard fans long for. The introduction of the hero is a complete failure to project some excitement. The hero has just one sword and bashes up thirty-odd men with pistols !! As absurd as this scene gets, the hero immediately starts dancing in a typical Tamil film style. The background lyric in the song translates into "complete bash up" (chumma kuzhi in Tamil) and the daughter of the hero simply takes over. She is so keen to get the hero re-married. In comes Nayanthara, the compelling heroine of substance who is simply wasted in a few scenes. She looks very glamorous in the best of sleeveless and backless blouses, though.
The story goes on predictable lines. Rajnikant is shown as a sort of mentally disturbed top cop for whom ends justify the means. When the audience draws an immediate real-world reference to the recent real-world reference of four rapists being shot dead in an encounter at Hyderabad and applauds such scenes. It reaches even more absurd levels when he threatens the members of the Human Rights Commission. The story is very weak. The son of a leading industrialist is the leading supplier of drugs to youth in Mumbai. Rajnikant gets posted as the top cop mandated to probe and demolish this trade. It then turns out that the son who was gunned down by Rajnikant was not his real son. He was the son of a dreaded criminal who gunned down twenty odd policemen several years ago.
The encounter brings the main villain who comes on screen only after the interval is over. The second half is so slow and the climax is a disappointment of the tallest order. Since most of the bad guys are all Hindi-speaking, the Tamil that they speak is not properly understood at all. The "what next?" excitement in the second half is a big zero and one can possibly have a nap as well. Even Rajnikant cannot pull this off. The movie will be off the screens in the next ten days. It is not even one percent as exciting as Rajnikant's "Padaiyappa" or the earlier "Baasha" that had such strong stories and screenplay that blended so beautifully with his fight scenes. Even the fight scenes seem to be forced to just make his fans happy. The fight with the bad boys in the Mumbai railway station is one such.
Too much of mass heroismSome of his die-hard fans have opined that their "thalaivaa" (leader in Tamil) is "next level" in some YouTube videos. That is indeed true. The director has succeeded in showing Rajnikant as a 45 years old man by masking his 70 years through the best of make-up. However, the problem with Darbar has too many "next level" scenes that simply fail to register. For example, the scene where he rescues three young girls (one of whom is the daughter of the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra!)is shown so unrealistically. The fight lacks the usual punch associated with the mass hero. Even his die-hard fans cannot stomach his trying to propose to the glamorous Nayanthara.
Despite the superb acting by one who acts as his daughter, (Nivetha Thomas) many scenes simply leave the audience dazed. Even "Kabali" where the hero was shown as a father of a 30 something girl was far better. Rajnikant did not romance with someone younger and even his pretty daughter simply carried the story through.
The songs that fail to register in our mindsThe music is loud and even disturbs the dialogues of the hero. The songs fail to impress as well. Anirudh the music director has made too much of a sound and only the first song, "Chumma Kizhi" is somewhat okay. Much was expected from this very young man. But he has simply failed to deliver.
The predictable nature of the storyThe story is over in the first half itself. The rest of the story is so dull and a pain to watch. The audience would easily predict that Rajnikant would be furious after the death of his daughter. This happens as a matter of routine. He then becomes a bit mentally disturbed and goes on a shooting spree. Even this was sought to be highlighted even before Rajnikant is even introduced in the movie. Hence, the excitement is totally lost. The rich industrialist should have acted against the hero. This does not happen and he warns the daughter of the hero that something serious is about to happen. The villain comes along and stabs the rich industrialist to death. The story becomes very predictable and this is exactly why all the hype about the movie becomes such a huge letdown.
Too much emphasis on crass commercialismEven Rajnikant cannot carry such a weak story on his shoulders. The image of Rajnikant is already there in the minds of millions of his fans. Hence, this attempt of the director to project the hero as someone like a demi-God falls flat. More so, since the hype did not match the reality of the movie at all. The inevitable comparisons with his earlier movie "Petta" are doing the rounds on social media like never before. Even established directors like Murugadoss, who directed earlier classics like Ramana need to wake up at least now. The story is very important even in a Rajnikant movie.
ConclusionThe aforesaid review of the Tamil movie "Darbar" attempted to discuss why the movie has failed on so many counts. Even sections of his fans are hugely disappointed. It is also the time that the mass hero only acts as a father in every movie produced in Tamil.