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Kaabil seems to be less of a film and more of a desperate effort to resurrect Hrithik Roshan’s sagging reputation as a bankeable star. Needless to say, Hrithik performs with a seriousness and sincerity that is familiar territory for him. What is missing is the over-weaning need for Hrithik’s hero to be a macho hero. There seems to be an effort to present more of him than the perfectly carved abs, classy steps and melting eyes. An effort that makes a point but sadly misses the mark.

Hrithik plays a blind dubbing artist who is naturally gifted to lipsync animated visuals without seeing them, how he manages the feat is something left unexplained. It does not bother us because everything else in the film is explained at length and in detail, sometimes excruciatingly so. Yami Gautami yet again plays the lovely, loving wife that dies too soon, whose death Hrithik sets out to avenge.

It is gracious of Sanjay Gupta to spare us gory graphic details of violence and violation but he does not spare us the agony of a tediously laid out plot that explains every move of its protagonist even as it shows it. Thankfully, some twists and turns arrive in an otherwise predictable howdunit to lift interest back.

But this ping ping pong ball session with interest becomes tiresome after a point when the long drawn out agony of the lead pair refuses to move you, or the shenanigans of the villains refuse to distress you. A film that was calling out to be vulnerable and raw quickly ends up being a cold, blunt butter knife instead.

The vulnerable hero’s journey is portrayed as an incredibly uphill task that he apparently covers with sheer grit and brains. However, the grit comes off more as courage by habit than an inner strength born of adversity and his smartness more as successful flukes. In the David vs Goliath battle Ronit Roy and Narendra Jha play the Goliaths with little impact, one is caricaturish, the other too dull. Yami Gautami looks as gorgeous as any lovely advertising model and performs accordingly too.

Perhaps, what is interesting to note also is the gaze that is telling the story, a gaze that thankfully refrains from lending a morality to the crime but is biased about the individual pain it has caused. Rohan’s pain is all that we see, Supriya is a mere reflection. Her pain is not important, not to her, not to the makers who sacrifice her conveniently to spare their hero more agony; that is the reasoning given to us for Supriya’s death. In the 21st century. But given the regressive route the world is taking it is not much of a surprise either. The gaze is far more telling of our real world than it is of the film.

Director & Producer – Rakesh Roshan;

Writers – Vijay Kumar Mishra, Sanjay Masoom (dialogue)

Cast – Hrithik Roshan, Yami Gautami, Ronit Roy, Rohit Roy, Narendra Jha

Music – Salim Merchant, Suleiman Merchant

Review first appeared in Indian Entertainment Online