Kabzaa is a wannabe KGF from filmmakers who fail to understand emulating the style of the Yash-starrer isn’t good enough to make an entertainer.
An unfortunate fate of any path-breaking film is that it ends up becoming the template for others to emulate and Kabzaa is a failed product that in an attempt to mimic Yash’s KGF, ends up becoming a tiring affair that’s devoid of emotions. The aesthetics and the high production value of KGF and the slick colour tone of the film played a huge part in making the film an earth-shattering success. Director R Chandru seems to have mistaken this style for substance, hence his Kabzaa flaunts a similar high-value production design and commendable camera work, but with respect to the story and screenplay, the movie ends up becoming a vacuous and pretentious affair.
Similar to KFG, we get a narrator here, a police officer named Bakshi (Sudeep), who is appointed to take care of the rising crimes in the city. The much-feared cop arrives with pomp and style–we get the usual slo-mo shots, suits, and yada yada. Every important character gets their turn to have a similar introduction, and that alone makes up for significant runtime. So, Bakshi assembles all the rowdies and gangsters of the city and starts telling them a story. No one knows why. Maybe, there is a moral science lesson at the end of it, which might turn all the gangsters into law-abiding chaps. But as the film ends with a promise of a sequel, we don’t get to the end of it. So, no pearls of wisdom this time.
So, the story this police officer narrates is about Arkeshwara (Upendra), a pilot-turned-gangster in the 1970s. The younger son of a freedom fighter ends up becoming a much-feared underworld kingpin when his brother gets brutally murdered by a don of the village. Arkeshawara aka Arka, who has been a shy and demure person, now has to avenge the death of his brother. Thus, begins the killing spree and Ravi Basur’s annoying background score.
The appalling part of Kabzaa is that it doesn’t have an iota of substance to make up for its runtime. We get a lot of hype about villains and their hierarchy, but they just make brief appearances before getting butchered, shot, or blown up by Arka. On top of that, the film is choppy. The idea here is to follow the edit pattern of KGF, but here it turns out to be a string of random scenes pasted together. Added to the ordeal is the snoozefest of a romantic track between princess Madhumathi (Shriya) and Arka. Less said about it the better.
KGF was a hit across India because of the effort that went into making the film look and sound like it belonged to any language it was released. The songs and the dialogue worked big time in all languages because there were nuances even in the dubbing. Kabzaa is a scam in this regard. The dialogue seems to be translated using Google Translate and it most often sounds funny in places where it shouldn’t be.
The success of KGF is a milestone event in Kannada cinema, and that is bound to inspire some insipid films like Kabzaa. This was always coming and one can bet that such tiresome affairs are not going to stop. Kabzaa is just the beginning of this phase that will implode after crores of money are spent on such damp squibs and when the name KGF starts leaving a bad aftertaste in the mouth because of such redundant attempts.