Director: R Chandru
Cast: Upendra, Sudeep, Shriya Saran, Shivrajkumar, Murali Sharma, Nawab Shah, John Kokken
R Chandru’s Kabzaa, which aims to be the next KGF from Kannada cinema and was also aggressively promoted along the same lines, is an ambitious attempt with very little promise. At best, it can be described as KGF’s poor cousin that’s all style but has no soul. Even though cut from the same cloth as KGF, Upendra’s Kabzaa hardly makes any impact, let alone entertain. It’s unarguably one of the lousiest attempts in the name of making pan-Indian cinema. (Also Read | Kabzaa teaser: Kiccha Sudeep and Upendra face off in this period gangster drama)
The story takes place in two eras–the 1940s and 1970s. Upendra plays Arkeshwara, an Indian Air Force pilot with big dreams. When his elder brother is killed by a local gangster and his head is delivered in a sack, Arkeshwara turns into a killing machine and turns into an avenger. It is one gangster after another as Arkeshwara takes turns wiping them out and before you know it, he’s the underworld’s most dreaded kingpin. His rise to the top happens at such a drastic pace that it sends shockwaves across the country. Soon, the Indian government appoints a special police team headed by Bhargav Bakshi (Sudeep) to capture Arkeshwara.
Right from the first frame, it is extremely tough to shake off the KGF hangover. Call it inspiration or a deliberate attempt to mimic, Kabzaa never feels original in any aspect and it fails miserably to recreate the magic of KGF. The film has nearly half a dozen villain characters but not even one among them manages to impress. Even on the action front, the stunts are too exaggerated to even make us root for Upendra, who sleepwalks through a role that’s interesting on paper but isn’t written in a way that it could become as popular as Yash’s Rocky from the KGF franchise. Both the roles – which are about a common man’s rise to the top – have so much in common but Arkeshwara feels lifeless.
Ravi Basrur, with his music and background score, holds Kabzaa together to a large extent. The rest of the performances are forgettable, to say the least. Shriya Saran gets a decent part but there’s very little she could offer in a film that’s powered by the testosterone of the male actors. The film’s dark tone is another major grouse apart from badly dubbed Tamil lines that feel so boring. Kabzaa is a major misfire from an industry that should stop aping everything that worked in KGF’s favour.