Kabzaa Movie Review: An ambitious and violent crime drama
It is definitely a film for all those who enjoy action drama, superior technical quality, and of course, the high of watching three of Sandalwood’s biggest Superstars coming together on the big screen
During the promotions, director R Chandru admitted that the KGF franchise inspired him to create the world of Kabzaa. But Kabzaa has its own personality, impressive grandeur, solid star cast, massive sets, whistle-worthy dialogues, over-the-top violence, and of course... Upendra.
The film is about the rise of the underworld and traces the life of Arakeshwara (Upendra). Narrated by encounter specialist Bhargav Bakshi (Sudeep), the narrative has a never-ending barrage of characters, especially various dons, making fleeting appearances in and out of the film.
Set between the 40s and the 80s, we are introduced to Arakeshwara, who is born into a family of freedom fighters. Along with his parents and an elder brother, Sankeshwara (Sunil Puranik), the family is into weaving flags. Arakeshwara aspires to become a pilot and gets all the support from his elder brother. However, his dreams are cut short when his brother is murdered. The otherwise mild Arakeshwara turns violent and marks his accidental entry into the underworld. Will he succeed in ruling the roost for a long time or meet a worthy challenger in Bhargav Bakshi makes up for the first part, and Shivarajkumar’s cameo in this instalment only sets up a potential showdown between these three superstars in Kabzaa 2.
The actual story of Kabzaa is established in the second half and is peppered with high-octane action sequences featuring swords, guns, and a lot of bloodshed. Points to stunt directors Ravi Varma, Vijay, Chethan D’ Souza, Vinod, Vikram Mor, and Thriller Manju for delivering the adrenaline rush.
Apart from the violence, Arakeshwara also has a romantic angle, involving Madhumathi (Shriya Saran), the Queen of the Bahaddhur family, who gets married against the wishes of her father, What price she pays for marrying a gangster is brought through various events, giving room for many more characters to be introduced in the sequel. There is a lot of drama, romance, and action, and can a film ever be complete without doses of mother sentiment?
Kabzaa is purely Chandru’s vision and he mounts it through the superstardom of the three stars. But undoubtedly, the film belongs to its technical crew who deliver a solid spectacle. Art director Shivakumar masterfully crafts the massive sets to bring alive Chandru’s vision for Kabzaa. Ravi Basrur continues to carry his signature style and balances the mass appeal of the film’s star cast, and the music required for commercial potboilers. While the background music might seem too loud, it justifies the film’s rather dark narrative. AJ Shetty, who has previously assisted Bhuvan Gowda in KGF, has utilised his learnings from that film in Kabzaa. Editor Mahesh Reddy employs a similar pattern but manages to dish out a distinct style too. However, the VFX leaves a lot to be desired.
‘If you want to win. I will play the game. If you want to kill, I will end the game,’ says Upendra in one of the high points of the film. Kabzaa allows the actor to showcase his super-heroic side, and he stands tall. He fits well into the role of Arakeshwara, and nails his transformation from a normal person to a dreaded don. Shriya is regal as the Queen and is a perfect fit for the role.
Sudeep’s narration adds value to the film and helps us traverse through the various timelines and characters. His appearance as a strict police officer will cheer his fans. Shivarajkumar’s entry makes you look forward to the sequel. With countless characters seen in various face-offs with Upendra, Danish Akhtar Sait in the role of Baali, Nawab Shah as Bangera, Kamarajan as Khalid, and John Kokken as Malik, make their presence felt. There is Anup Revanna as Target Fayas and Murali Sharma who give a decent performance. The film also features Ashwath Ninasam and Suresh in blink-and-miss roles. In fact, innumerable characters in the film only end up being forgettable.
Kabzaa’s story does not follow KGF but it does have similar themes like the underdog becoming an underworld don. It is definitely a film for all those who enjoy action drama, superior technical quality, and of course, the high of watching three of Sandalwood’s biggest Superstars coming together on the big screen.