The title of Sanjay Gupta’s latest movie works as description of the lead character as well as the actor playing him. Rohan is blind and, as the meaning of the title makes clear, perfectly capable of taking revenge for his wife’s death, as is Hrithik Roshan of convincingly portraying the hero.
Produced by the troubled star’s father, Rakesh Roshan, Kaabil is designed as a Hrithik vehicle all the way. Every scene is designed to provide proof of the star’s versatility. He is perfectly turned out and a successful professional, lives in a cavernous apartment in Mumbai that would be the envy of half the city’s population, dances beautifully, is unfailingly polite and charming, and is the darling of his neighbourhood. Rohan’s tender romance with Supriya (Yami Gautam), who is also blind, leads straight to the altar. But since the couple is bursting with happiness, it is a matter of time before they are reminded of the horrors that lurk beyond their doorstep.
Supriya’s rape and death at the hands of Amit (Rohit Roy), the brother of influential municipal official Madhav Shelar (Ronit Roy), presents Rohan with the ultimate test of his capability. He warns police officer Chaubey (Narendra Jha) that his revenge will be even more perfect than the perfect crime. Rohan, and the screenplay by Vijay Kumar Mishra, set up expectations that the movie simply cannot match. Every one of Rohan’s schemes succeeds without a hitch. I have a Plan B, Rohan tells one of his victims, but this movie is content to go with Plan A.
The filmmakers make it even easier for Rohan by severely limiting his world. Kaabil has no more than a handful of characters, half of whom are dead by the end credits. The film seems to have largely been shot at a single location, and even the police station appears to be in another wing of the building in which Rohan lives.
Even though he lives in what is supposed to be a safe and friendly neighbourhood, Rohan has no community to interfere with his vengeance. The Mumbai Police, second only to Scotland Yard as per urban legend, are conveniently too dim-witted to keep pace with Rohan. The lean writing and meticulous plotting are convincing because the bar for expectation is kept low. The absence of glitches and obstacles and the plot’s childish simplicity allow Rohan to unfold his walking stick and tap-tap his way out of the crime scene each time.
The competition is too weak for this superhero without a cape. Rohit Roy looks far too old to be playing the lecherous wastrel, while Ronit Roy, clearly channeling Nana Patekar, is so powerful that he has exactly one bodyguard.
The pocket vendetta thriller is delivered with surprising efficiency by Sanjay Gupta. The director is known for his over-the-top Hollywood copies. At least in Kaabil, possibly under his controlling producer’s influence, Gupta dispenses with the flourishes and proves that he has the ability to land the arrow on the target. Hrithik Roshan too rises up to the challenge, and channels the fundamental sweetness and innocence of his screen persona to make Rohan a no-brainer hero. Kaabil is highly capable but also entirely bloodless.
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