Darbar - Film Review

Superstar Rajinikanth has donned the role of a Policeman only a few times over the past 44 years in tinsel town. The most memorable one remains his uncanny performance as Alex Pandian in the film Moondru Mugam while the 90s’ Pandiyan and Kodi Parakkudhu were forgettable ones. Ever since, Thalaivar has stayed away from police characters for reasons best known to him. So, when it was announced last year that Darbar was on the anvil, fans were frenzied to see our action hero as a toughie-roughie cop. And we are not disappointed one bit. The film’s worth for his ardent fans is almost over in the first 15 minutes which is a treat to watch – the opening fight, thrashing goons with his policeman charisma and swag, threatening NHRC Officers in his inimitable style followed by the Chumma Kizhi song. As a hardcore fan for 4 decades, I said, “Ok, the reason I came is over. I got what I want”.


Darbar is a tribute to Thalaivar and his fans by a Director who has always yearned to portray him in his own imagination helming various scripts (while Petta was more a fanboy moment). And when the Director shoots the Superstar as a Police commissioner of Mumbai, it’s a treat to watch indeed.


Aditya Arunasalam is deputed from Delhi as Police Commissioner of Mumbai to eradicate the growing menace of kidnapping young girls into prostitution coupled with drug trafficking. When the daughter of Dy. CM gets kidnapped, Aditya takes the opportunity to cleanse the system while rescuing more than 2,000 girls aged as low as 7 years in a one-day operation and makes the city a better place to live in. But he also ends up antagonizing a rich kid (Prateek Babbar) who happens to be the drug lord who supplies Cocaine all over Mumbai and his father (Nawab Shah) including a larger ecosystem. While finishing off the convict in a chance encounter inside the Nashik Prison in an interesting twist of turns, the Commissioner attracts the wrath of Hari Chopra (Suneil Shetty), an underground international Drug Operator who burnt Police Officers alive in Borivali, Mumbai over 2 decades ago and has remained elusive ever since, while being on the lookout by countries including China, the UK and UAE. Hari Chopra returns to India to take revenge on Aditya and his family, for the kid is none other than his own son.


AR Murugadoss has twined the screenplay with an interesting flashback for Aditya (or one that isn’t shown) where he narrates why he remained a widower and how he would go to any extent to keep his only daughter Valli (Nivetha Thomas) happy, including her wish to romance and marry Lilly (Nayanthara) who’s perhaps half his age. After Nallavanukku Nallavan, Annamalai and Padayappa, fans were thrilled to see Daddy-Daughter love and the Superstar doesn’t fail to impress those who trust him, off screen and on screen. The comedy tracks with Yogi Babu reminds one of Superstar's camaraderie with the likes of Janakaraj or Koundamani of the 80s and 90s.


Santhosh Sivan has made Thalaivar and the film look quite stylish with various interesting shots while the Dance Masters Duo Ram-Lakshman have extracted the best of the Superstar even as he performs a single-shot sequence in the hum worthy Dum Dum song with Nayanthara at the fag end. Was such a delight to see him shake legs (and hands) in his trademark style even for a young and peppy song such as Tharamana Single crooned by none other than the film’s music composer Anirudh which I felt was going to be a mammoth task when I first heard the lyrics. Superstar has done absolute justice with his cameo.


For those wondering why there weren’t any political innuendos, my response is that we aren’t living in the 90s anymore when he would hint on-screen. After all, he doesn’t leave an opportunity to send political messages directly through Media either at events or individual press briefings. 

Darbar is yet another feast, an early Pongal for frenzied fans who are awaiting a family outing this weekend and the week thereafter.


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