Review Tamil

Darbar review: Rajinikanth shines in this uneven film about a cop with no rules

Release Date: 09 Jan 2020 / Rated: U/A / 02hr 39min


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Haricharan Pudipeddi

In Darbar, AR Murugadoss transforms Rajinikanth into an angry cop with no mercy or rules. He rides on Rajinikanth’s stardom and charisma to make his character (Aaditya Arunasalam) unimaginably exciting.

Darbar (2020) marks the maiden collaboration of superstar Rajinikanth and filmmaker AR Murugadoss. In mainstream Tamil cinema, Murugadoss was one of the most exciting filmmakers until at least some years ago. He has successfully made films that paid rich tributes to its stars and at the same time engaged audiences with interesting plots. From the story of an average Joe taking on a corrupt system in Ramana (2002) to an NRI businessman fighting for his right to vote in Sarkar (2018), he has tapped into subjects that have largely appealed to the masses.

In Darbar, Murugadoss transforms Rajinikanth into an angry cop with no mercy or rules. He rides on Rajinikanth’s stardom and charisma to make his character (Aaditya Arunasalam) unimaginably exciting. Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t quite do justice to Rajinikanth’s enthusiasm and energy. Much as Rajinikanth tries to keep the film afloat, it wobbles a lot thanks to Murugadoss’s insipid writing which lacks the spark of his earlier stories.

The story follows Aaditya Arunasalam, who is sent to Mumbai on a special operation to handle the city’s drug menace. The film opens with a series of encounters and we see headlines of papers calling Aaditya ‘a murderer' and ‘a cop with no ethics’.

As part of the operation, Aaditya nabs Ajay Malhotra (Prateik Babbar), the chief drug supplier and son of a top businessman. When Aaditya meticulously plans and eliminates Ajay, Hari Chopra, a dreaded gangster, gets involved and challenges Aaditya to stop him before he goes on a rampage killing cops.

At a time when the perception about police is not so great in the country, Rajinikanth plays a cop who is no less than a superhero. He kills criminals in encounters like it’s no big deal. In a single night, he bumps off half-a-dozen criminals, but he ensures that justice is served even if it means he has to break the law.

The initial portion featuring Rajinikanth as a merciless cop and an action sequence at a railway station stand out in the film which also works as a drama as it focuses on the relationship between a father and his daughter. Scenes between Nivetha Thomas (an exciting talent) and Rajinikanth are fun and full of life. Yogi Babu gets a couple of great comic lines which he delivers with aplomb, leaving the desired impact.

In Darbar, Murugadoss takes the hysteria around Rajinikanth up a notch but he doesn’t match it with smart writing. He relies solely on the crowd-pleasing moments to do the trick, and they work up to a point but get silly thereafter. Take out Rajinikanth and you find all the other characters to be underwhelming, especially Suniel Shetty as the antagonist.

Nayanthara has a forgettable role and it only goes to prove that Murugadoss still can’t write good parts for his leading ladies. Anirudh Ravichander’s music is a great plus for the film, but his background score suffers from a heavy Petta (2019) hangover.

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