Due to low key promotions, expectations were stumpy on Darbar, though the film stars superstar Rajinikanth and it is helmed by star director AR Murugadoss. Will this film become a surprise winner for Sankranthi?
Mumbai Police Commissioner Aditya Aruachalam (Rajinikanth) is on a hunt to eliminate all the criminals in city, after his daughter Valli (Nivetha Thomas) is killed in a road accident which was actually an attempt to erase him. Arunachalam initially thinks it was Vinod Malhotra (Nawab Shah) who killed his daughter as a revenge of his son Ajay Chopra’s (Prateik Babbar) killing in a police operation. But, he was wrong. There’s third person’s involvement. Who’s that? Why he wanted to kill Arunachalam? What’s his connection with Vinod and Ajay Malhotra?
Rajini fans have been waiting every time hoping their star to come back strongly with a commercial hit. But, he’s disappointing all the time. There were hopes on Darbar because it is helmed by AR Murugadoss who knows the pulse of masses and an architect in blending commerciality with social responsibility. Rather coming up with an engaging or content-rich subject, Muruga opted to a commercial potboiler including elements that fans expect from Rajini. He was successful in wowing masses and commercial movie lovers in first half which ran completely on Rajinikanth’s heroism. Then, the second half where acceleration needed to pick up, Darbar was a complete letdown. The villain thread and romantic track were biggest drawbacks, besides many loopholes in spineless script. Dialogues, of course, Rajinikanth fans will rejoice. When there’s no strong story or conflicting point, all ARM could do was build script completely around protagonist. Rajinikanth is seen in almost all the blocks. Due to lack of engrossing elements, after a certain point, we are left bored and there’s no end to it.
Darbar is actually a director’s film and Murugadoss succeeded in showing Rajinikanth in how his fans want to see. A proper story would obviously have beautified the film and satisfied all the sections. Songs tuned by Anirudh Ravichander would only charm fans. However, Anirudh gives all the elevation with his BGM. Santosh Shivan is a master in creating magic and you will say vintage Rajinikanth is back because of his finest work. A Sreekar Prasad has cut action sequences sharply but the lengthy runtime was another letdown. Production values of Lyca Productions are superb.
Onto performances, the film actually belongs to Rajinikanth who steals the show with his stellar performance. He charms with stylish swag, mannerisms and power. He donned khaki and pulled off the role effortlessly. Suneil Shetty in an antagonist role is wasted completely, though he looked stylish. Nayanthara didn’t get much space and the romantic track was also weak. Niveda Thomas wins the brownie points. She makes father-daughter track look convincingly emotional with acting prowess. Prateik Babbar also didn’t get much to perform. Yogi Babu gives some comic relief. Other artists played their parts.
Director AR Murugadoss has a typical film making style that differentiates him from others. His social responsibility can be sensed in every subject and Darbar is no different. He dealt about the challenges in police department in Rajini style but fell short at the needed hour throwing second half haywire. Of course, there are whistle worthy moments at times with vintage Rajini on screen, neither the script nor storyline had meat or intelligence to involve the viewers. In what can be called as, what that begins well must end well, Murugadoss forgot to prepare the fundamental stuff required to serve the crucial part in second half. All the characters and instances sowed in first half aren't cultivated in latter part, especially this is not the way one expects a climax from Rajini, Muruga combo standards. Still struck in Spyder kind of thoughts, Darbar became a weak fare leaving even an artist like Nayantara go unused.
First half starts superbly with row of shoot outs before introducing Rajini aka Adithya Arunachalam with bang on stylish action. Following scenes on Human Rights Commission keep Rajini Fans in swing. Beginning of flashback centered on drug mafia, child kidnaps in shadow of Deputy CM daughter kidnap is brand Murugadoss treatment. On other side, romance with Nayan and daughter track with Niveda Thomas are handled in lighter vein. Actual mind game with twists n turns on proxy accused in Nasik prison is brilliant part of whole Darbar. Rajini's elegance is intact in every frame to close first half on a very high wherein proxy villain gives way to entry of actual villian aka Suneil Shetty.
With unveiling of Suniel Shetty character, obviously audience anticipate Rajini, Suneil conflict to be on high voltage. In contrast, Muruga side tracked Darbar onto daugher-father emotional point. On this juncture, railway platform fight episode is well designed and neatly executed. Here on Nayan misses the show and Niveda's death scene is truly sentimental. Shifting of Rajini's madness on brutal killings of rowdies in Mumbai, his physical fitness tests to rejoin the commissioner duties looked pale. Without an intense situation generated or any logical game played, Rajini and Suneil coming face to face is the most awkward idea ever from Muruga. No surprises, Darbar ends on a dull note much to our disappointment.
Darbar though has Rajini's heroism, swag and style in portions; weak villain thread along with dull climax, shallow second half spoiled the show. CJ goes with 2.5 stars and if you are a hardcore Rajini fan, give it a try. BO wise, two biggies are set in next two days to take Pongal advantage, Darbar is hard to stay.