(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)
Sanjay Gupta is known for blatant plagiarism but a film from almost a decade ago now shows why Gupta comes short in that respect too. What does it say about your film if it makes Ghajini look sophisticated? The premise is same. A revenge drama like any other. A cardboard villain. One man army. A disability. Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) in Kaabil is blind. Sanjay in Ghajini fights his short term memory loss. Both exist to extract gimmicks. But Ghajini – which cannot even be categorized as a good film or filmmaking – at least hits the right notes for its genre. An affecting love story resides in its centre. Two characters that bludgeon you to care for them. Kaabil gives you nothing.
All this thanks to Gupta’s utter lack of craft. The film is built on contrivances and plot points that we’ve seen a hundred times before. Routine is not the issue as much as the absence of application. So many years and so many films later, Gupta cannot even surprise you with the constructs of a love story. We dive right into it and we know nothing about either of them. How does Rohan live his daily life? How does he get from one place to another? How does he navigate busy railway stations of Mumbai? There is some foreshadowing that’s impressive. We get a scene too late into the narrative when Rohan is showing his now wife, Supriya (Yami Gautam), the contours of his house, what’s where and how many steps across etc. Kaabil needed more such moments early on instead of the screaming in your ears staging of a scene about how they get lost in a mall and the universe conspires to bring them together. And what is wrong with Gupta’s aesthetics? Dating at Mumbai’s sea face. Big plot moments at Mumbai’s sea face. Funeral also at Mumbai’s sea face? What fresh hell is this.
Is at least the revenge arc imaginative? No. Is it comically stupid? Yes. Is Kaabil the worst film of the year? I thought Coffee with D from last week would hold that position for a few months but Gupta has other ideas. Or he has none at all.