S Shyam Prasad
Rather than trying to be stand-alone classics, every film today wants to be a franchise, a cinematic universe of its own; a saga that can be reinvented repeatedly. Kabzaa can only be accused of following the inevitable march of the entire film industry towards such an eventuality.
The comparison R Chandru’s Kabzaa has drawn with the KGF franchise is well-founded. At the end of this new film, I was left with the same feeling that came after watching Chapter 1 of KGF. Kabzaa is a two hour long trailer for what is to come in Kabzaa 2! It sets the stage for a bigger action carnival, a coming together of top stars of Sandalwood to entertain fans at all costs.
Kabzaa does not pretend to be anything else than an underworld action spectacle inspired by the pan-India culture sweeping the film industries all over the country. Grand sets, big guns, bigger bombs, a dark theme, sweeping landscapes, CG that blur the distinction between reel and reality, multitude of characters that is hard to keep count of let alone track and a narrative so fast you hardly have time to appreciate or depreciate what happened just a fraction of a second ago are the hallmarks of Kabzaa. It feels like a few hundred hours of footage has been cramped into two hours. And perhaps this is exactly the kind of narrative that can keep the eternally distracted audience away from their mobile phones. Take your eyes off the screen for just a second and you would have missed half a dozen shots.
As for the story, there is so much said and also much more unsaid. A queen mother escapes from a small principality in north India to the south with her two sons as her husband is murdered. One of her sons is destined to become an underworld don. One stunning fight sequence is followed by the other with just enough time in between for a one-liner. The emotions and glamour are treated with utmost disdain as it is the next visually stunning treat that is more important. Kabzaa is a vaudevillian act and storytelling technique where visual magic engulfs everything else, including the tale.
R Chandru has outdone himself in every department. It is impossible to conceive that Kabzaa came out of his imagination. He deserves to be appreciated for coming out his comfort zone and trying to create something on such a grand scale. It is a rough-cut diamond no doubt but he has shown the determination to seek out a vision. If imitation is the best form of flattery, he has done ‘his best’ adulation of KGF.
Upendra, as Arakeshwara, the reluctant underworld don had his task cut out and does what Chandru has told him to do. Sudeep plays a small but fan-favourite role. He is only the narrator in what is revealed in the end as the first episode of a franchise. Shiva Rajkumar, appearing only in the last scene sets the tone for Kabzaa 2. The hundreds of other characters which appear are mere footnotes in the huge canvas the director splashes with dark colours.
Kabzaa is a film made for the big screen. Watching three big Sandalwood stars faceoff against each other is worth the visit to theatres. This one for Sandalwood.
Film: Kabzaa Director: R Chandru Cast: Upendra, Shriya Saran, Sudeep, Shivarajkumar, Ninasam Ashwath Duration: 136 minutes Certificate: UA