Darbar review for Times of India
Review: In order to regain its authority and the trust of the public, which was snatched away two decades ago when a drug addict set fire to an entire police station, Arunachalam joins as Mumbai City Police Commissioner. But, despite his quick reflexes and an innate ability to foresee danger, the arrogant cop flazones and has to navigate through an excess of painful experiences to defeat his nemesis. R Murugados’s ‘Darbar’ is the story of the rise and fall of a senior policeman, both professionally and at home.
All of us have seen some top-notch police dramas – serious, hilarious and even brainless – and ‘Darbar’, no matter how much we love Rajinikanth for his machismo and inbred charisma, he is not one of them. Written and directed by A. R. Murugadoss, this action thriller is entertaining but very intermediate in both its storytelling technique and general execution. The first half is mainly dedicated to the construction of the film’s antagonist, played by Suniel Shetty, but when he finally arrives in the second half with his tight jeans and designer shirts showing cleavage, you know instantly that it’s all downhill from there. The friction between the two central characters is not portrayed in an organic way and verbal combat sometimes seems forced. Not to mention, the lack of a strong (final read) confrontation between Arunachalam of Rajinikanth and Hari Chopra by Suniel Shetty makes this police movement a tedious watch. And his script has been dragged beyond two hours and 30 minutes – it’s absolutely criminal to stretch a film that lacks conviction for so long and makes things worse for everyone involved. The music of ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ Anirudh Ravichander is narrative-pleasing and represents the right amount of peppiness as and when needed to move the plot forward. The action sequence, which is supposed to be the USP of ‘Darbar’, is generally dated and feels like a replica of the kind of ‘laafas’ and ‘dishooms’ that we have already seen in the 90s and early 2000s.
Rajinikanth’s act as a reckless cop, who also exhibits the characteristic features of a tender coconut when the situation demands clemency, is the kind of cinema that made him ‘Rajni – The Superstar’ in the first place. He is fierce, he says what he thinks without hesitation, and manages to enchant everyone who crosses with him. Looking at the flow of the script and the character larger than the life of Rajinikanth’s Arunachalam, it is safe to say that Murugados’s ‘Darbar’ is an ode to the veteran’s fan base. Nayanthara, as the much younger and more flexible love interest of the policeman, is a spectacle to behold – covered with beautiful sands of south India, the actress looks splendid on screen, but has very little to offer in terms of plot progression. Nayanthara’s Lily remains under-explored throughout and comes down to mere support in the second half; Disappointing. Suniel Shetty tries to find himself a scary antihero, but with that sculpted body and fancy clothes, he ends up running on the screen.
‘Darbar’ is definitely a celebration of the riddle that is Rajinikanth and the extra half rating is for all thalasiva vibes out there!