KHOON BHARI MAANG  -- helmed by Rakesh Roshan soon after his directorial debut KHUDGARZ  -- ranks amongst the best vendetta sagas I had watched in the 1980s. Although one knew what was in store vis-à-vis its plot, Roshan Sr. made sure the storytelling was most effectual and efficient, holding your attention [and breath] till the penultimate moments of the enterprise.
Almost three decades later, Roshan Sr.’s production outfit Filmkraft delivers yet another riveting revenge saga. This time, Sanjay Gupta is entrusted the responsibility of infusing life into characters that appear on screen. Much like the trailers of KHOON BHARI MAANG then, KAABIL too spells out a bit of its plot in its assorted trailers, with the viewers having a fair idea of what to expect in the film.
Known for technically slick films, Gupta delivers a smart and enthralling revenge fest in KAABIL. The screenplay is beautifully constructed… the twists and turns are attention grabbing… the nail-biting episodes grab you by your throat and you are trapped in the goings-on till the final credits roll. Actually, you know the plot, but what Gupta doesn’t tell you what’s around the corner. Additionally, KAABIL doesn’t insult one’s intelligence and what emerges is a motion picture that’s visceral and intelligent at the same time.
Let’s divulge the gist of the story, without revealing much… KAABIL narrates the story of Rohan [Hrithik Roshan] and Supriya [Yami Gautam]. In each other’s company, they find happiness and joy. Life is a bed of roses for the much-in-love couple till tragedy strikes. Rohan decides to fight it out, but his opponents are the powerful and influential Madhav [Ronit Roy] and his brother Amit [Rohit Roy]. Will he be able to settle scores?
Gupta is known for western influences in his films, but in KAABIL, the emphasis tilts heavily towards emotions than the color tone or camera angles. KAABIL has compelling emotional content and the intent is crystal clear as the story advances: the storyteller wants the moviegoer to root for the protagonist [Hrithik] and despise the antagonists [Ronit Roy, Rohit Roy]. Although the plot may appear conventional, Gupta and writer Vijay Kumar Mishra avoid the clichés and standard techniques that you often encounter in movies of this genre to take the story forward. In KAABIL, the villains are as smart as the hero, but more merciless, and how the hero overpowers and outsmarts them eventually is its USP.
KAABIL never fails to involve and entertain the moviegoer and if I may say so, it contains enough worthy material to hold the moviegoer’s attention for most of its run time. The emotional component is well balanced with low-key humor, tension-filled moments, energetic action pieces [fist fights, shootouts, explosions] and of course, some razor-sharp and punch-packed dialogue in dramatic sequences [penned by Sanjay Masoomm]. In the end, it’s the emotional journey of the protagonist that acts as a hook and lingers in your memory.
There are minor hiccups in an otherwise smooth narrative. The post-interval portions could’ve been slightly more persuasive, from the writing point of view. The strategies adopted by Hrithik, on a few occasions, take an easy route to depict that the protagonist has an upper hand.
The soundtrack [Rajesh Roshan] gels beautifully with the mood of the film. In fact, the film borrows two evergreen compositions from the past [‘Saara Zamana’ and ‘Dil Kya Kare’], but the accomplished composer garnishes them delightfully. The other tracks are harmonious as well, especially the title number and ‘Mon Amour’. Choreography [Ahmed Khan] of ‘Saara Zamana’ and ‘Mon Amour’ in particular is fantastic. Background score [Salim-Sulaiman] is beautifully integrated in the narrative, enhancing the impact of several pertinent episodes.
Cinematography [Sudeep Chatterjee, Ayananka Bose] is top notch. The film is visually stunning. Action [Sham Kaushal] provides ample exhilarating moments to get the adrenaline pumping -- something that the moviegoers relish. Editing [Akiv Ali] is sharp for most parts.
Hrithik Roshan inhabits the part. As a matter of fact, he delivers his career-best performance and is the film’s biggest strength, no two questions about it. He astounds you on varied occasions, especially when he’s most vulnerable after catastrophe strikes and his life goes topsy-turvy. Yami Gautam is unmistakably earnest and catches you unaware with a tremendous act. Her innocence and simplicity act as a magnetic charm. Ronit Roy is at his vicious best here. Absolutely menacing as the conniving politician. Rohit Roy is intimidating and leaves a strong impression. Need to see him more in movies!
Narendra Jha is first-rate, enacting his part with complete understanding. Girish Kulkarni, seen recently as the coach in DANGAL, is hugely competent. Suresh Menon springs a pleasant surprise in a non-comic character. The actor enacting the part of Wasim, Ronit Roy’s friend, is commendable. Akhilendra Mishra is alright. Urvashi Rautela sparkles in the item number.
On the whole, KAABIL is gripping, gut-wrenching and is likely to stay with you for a long time. Now that DANGAL has almost exhausted its run at the ticket windows, the box-office is quiet and subdued and KAABIL should have no difficulty filling seats at cineplexes, despite a strong opponent releasing alongside. Rich in merits, this film has the power and potential to emerge a success story at the box-office. Highly recommended!