Kabzaa, showcasing Upendra and Shriya Saran as the leading protagonists, made its grand debut on the silver screen yesterday. Kiccha Sudeepa and Shiva Rajkumar's pivotal guest appearances added a noteworthy dimension to the film. This period action extravaganza was helmed by P Chandru, originally filmed in Kannada, and subsequently dubbed into various Indian languages. But the reactions to this film have been quite negative, as people can’t stop comparing Kabzaa with the very successful KGF 2.
Arkeshwara (Upendra), an Indian Air Force officer, hails from a freedom fighter family. He is head over heels for Madhumathi (Shriya Saran), an affluent girl, and both plan to tie the knot. We also get to see a bunch of dreadful gangsters and politicians who are craving power in Amarapura. In a complete turnaround of events, Arkeshwara enters the crime world and eventually becomes a king. How that changed Arkeshwara’s life is the crux of the story.
The cinematography in Kabzaa is exceptional, effectively capturing the bygone era. Upendra, renowned for his unconventional films, delivers a commendable performance in the film. His captivating on-screen presence and outstanding portrayal of an action-oriented character are impressive.
The brief appearances of Kiccha Sudeepa and Shiva Rajkumar in the film provide a significant respite. Though their screen time is limited, their impact is substantial. The action sequences are skillfully choreographed, and the interval sequence is decently executed.
Occasionally, a film can pave the way for a new trend in the entertainment industry by presenting an innovative concept or an exceptional cinematic experience. KGF is one such example that transformed the notion of heroism in Indian cinema. While it is acceptable to seek inspiration from such trendsetting movies, the problem with Kabzaa is that it appears to be a mere imitation of KGF. In order to captivate the audience, a film must have a distinctive factor, but Kabzaa fails to deliver one. From the storyline and the narration to the dialogues, Kabzaa seems to be a replica of KGF.
Even the voiceover that narrates the story in Kabzaa is strikingly similar to that of KGF. The makers of KGF ingeniously employed a blackout effect to intensify the impact of a car chase sequence in KGF 2. However, in Kabzaa, this particular effect is excessively used throughout the movie, irritating the audience. The filmmakers need to understand that what works for one movie may not necessarily work for another, and they need to move beyond their fixation with KGF.
The problems with Kabzaa do not end here. The film has an age-old storyline in which the protagonist enters the world of crime due to inevitable circumstances. The absence of emotions in the film renders the characters' struggles and pain meaningless. The focus of the movie was solely on creating a larger-than-life spectacle on a grand scale, while the storytelling aspect was neglected.
The second half of the film is a tedious and tiresome experience. The love story between the lead characters is uninteresting, and the romantic scenes only exacerbate the film's unending woes. The editing needed to be overhauled, as the fast cuts and the haphazard presentation of scenes only serve to detract from the film's overall quality. The movie is unnecessarily stretched out, and the announcement of a sequel to this lackluster film only adds insult to injury.
Overall, Kabzaa comes across as a loud, monotonous period action drama that falls short of all of its goals. In this tedious movie, Upendra and the cinematography are the only consolations. It's a letdown of a movie due to the predictable plot, uninteresting narrative, and lack of feeling.