Let’s just start with the facts. AR Murugadoss has now handed Chiranjeevi, Mahesh Babu, Surya & Rajnikanth a top 5 dud of their careers. What’s even more shocking is that Vijay has been spared! Darbar was a movie I couldn’t believe we were watching in the year 2020. It feels so dated that even if it released around Veera time, it would still be an average grosser. The promos were all about how Rajnikanth was playing a cop after 27 years, well for this to work it should have come out then.
Serving up a jaded product like this after you’ve witnessed Petta & Kaala makes it worse. Think about how well thought the title sequence in Thuppakki was planned, where it shows you all the spots where later in the movie the sleeper cell take-out is going to be orchestrated. Here’s it’s just a black screen with names popping up. The hero entry has been a trademark of the massy Rajnikanth movies, its rather tepid here with a bunch of baddies firing 100s of bullets in close range & obviously missing, only to be slashed by “Police Commissioner” with a samurai sword.
Nayantara looks stunning as ever but she also has the look like she’s wandered aimlessly into the wrong movie set. That supposed love track is outright creepy & cringe-worthy even more so because of the so-called funny comments on the Hero’s age. In a movie like Lingaa, Rajni is playing a 30 something guy who courts Anushka & we buy into this make-believe fantasy land where our heroes never age. In Darbar, however, Rajni is a 50 something Police Commissioner who is egged on by his 20 something daughter to chase Nayantara who’s a few years elder to her. A woman is stalked by a creepy elderly guy, goes to the police station to file a complaint, & her creepy stalker guy is the commissioner! There are two women who find this perfectly normal except Yogi Babu who uses snark & finally Sriman who tries to put an end to this nonsense. Now that is a cinematic universe that will take some effort buying into.
There is a villain for each half but neither is menacing nor devious enough to make you buy into the persona of this revenge drama. Their setups & dialogues are just lame & pusillanimous, which makes you wonder what thought went into writing any of the characters in the movie. There is probably just one scene of note in the entire movie where Rajni handles the mystery of a proxy prisoner, barring which the entire movie is like watching paint dry on the wall. In like the first 10 minutes, you are told about the death of a character which you get to see late into the second half, guess no one has heard of suspense in the universe this movie is set in. There is an important reveal about Suniel Shetty’s character that is made even before he’s introduced, poor writing again actually just lazy.
The music, oh boy the background score is just pathetic and relies on themes from Baasha & Annamalai to infuse some cheer from the audience. The songs are out of place & seem force-fitted into the story with a horde of backup dancers. You have a 70yr old, certainly, we are not expecting him to dance like a spring chicken, Petta handled this pretty well with montages. Darbar, however, puts Rajni in a party song, and a wedding song adding to the cringe, it’s just very sad. Oh and for the love of God, I still cannot figure what the title has anything to do with the movie. Rajni movies have it easy by titling the movie with the protagonist’s name, but who or what the hell is Darbar?
See also: FUBAR