Kaabil movie review: A ’70s revenge thriller that’s also charming

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Review : 2.5/5

Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil has a standard revenge-saga arch.

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Yami Gautam, Ronit Roy, Rohit Roy, Narendra Jha, Girish Kulkarni, Md. Sahidur Rahaman
Director: Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil, based partially on Hollywood’s Blind Fury and South Korea’s Broken, opens with Rohan Bhatnagar (Hrithik Roshan) preparing breakfast. Instantly we know that he’s a magical man.

Though Rohan can’t see, he can fix a kid’s cycle, can sniff people apart, and believes that kuch bhi naamumkin nahin hai if you have vishwas and confidence. Rohan works as a dubbing artist and is often found in studios making funny voices of cartoon characters.

Apart from being so awesome, he’s also very handsome and adorable. So, obviously, one Mrs Mukherjee wants to set him up with Supriya (Yami Gautam).

She herself is pretty awesome. A cheery yellow tulip, blooming with innocence and charm, Supriya works, is independent and not so excited about the prospect of marrying a blind man because, she believes, andhera andhere ko roshan nahin kar sakta. But, luckily for Rohan, Su, as he starts calling her at their very first meeting, is a piano teacher at a dance school. Lolz.

Whatever Hrithik Roshan may play — a blind bat, an alien with five heads, a rooster, or, well, an angry Kangana Ranaut — there’s one thing he will always do better than anyone else. You know it, I know it and, soon, darling Su knows it as well.

Su and Rohan’s dance floor routine, with pretend blindness and cute gorgeousness, is all very stagey but fun because these two, with their chiselled noses, healthy dentures and rosy cheeks, make a delightful, handsome couple. But also because we sense how vulnerable they are, and where the film is going to go from here.

There’s a small bichadna scene in the mall. Nothing serious, yet it’s scary, poignant, very emotional. Separated by a rushing crowd of people who seem mean and uncaring, their helplessness is firmly established in this scene which is symbolic, an omen of things to come.

We know what when we see Amit (Rohit Roy), the younger, spoilt brother of corporator Madhavrao Shella (Ronit Roy). Rohan can smell danger, we can see it lurking near the newly-married.

The horrible things that happen next, the coiling twists that sting so hard, the creepy elder brother (played by real-life elder brother Ronit Roy), and the corrupt cops together enlist us as members of Team Rohan. We want what he wants.

Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil has a standard revenge-saga arch. Or, what I call the Ramayan plot. Bad things happen to a woman, and her so-called protector, post-facto, rises to avenge her dishonour, mostly by annihilating evil.

The thing about rape-vengeance films and epics is that they are all about the men — men who need to be punished, and men who need to mete out the punishment.

At the end, of course, a moment is kept to pay shradhjanjali to the dead victim. Kaabil has a heart that belongs to the Seventies. It has both — some old world charm and, in places, the stench of mothball.

But director Gupta’s stylishly shot Kaabil has a thriller tone to it. And it works, despite the howlers — some so silly that my dog would wince — and the terrible item song. That’s because the characters are nicely done, and Hrithik and Yami have adorable chemistry.

Also, Hrithik, after that mega disaster called Mohenjo Daro, has honed and refined his acting chops. I was convinced that he could not see. And because Ronit Roy, one of the most consistently fabulous actors, is insanely malevolent.

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