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Superstar Rajinikanth’s Darbar is a cop thriller directed by AR Murugadoss and produced by Subaskaran under the banner Lyca Productions. Nayanthara plays the female lead and Sunil Shetty is the antagonist, while Yogi Babu and Nivetha Thomas play crucial supporting roles. It has music by Anirudh Ravichander and cinematography by Santosh Sivan.

It’s been more than 25 years since Rajinikanth donned the Khaki and the first question that arises in our minds is – “Will Thalaivar be able to pull off the role convincingly?” Well, here’s a spoiler. Rajini as Aaditya Arunasalam proves that he’s still got that unexplainable power of creating magic on the celluloid. He’s a vintage bullet bike that has its own rustic charm.

The story starts with Aaditya Arunasalam going on an encounter spree, killing a lot of gangsters in Mumbai. There is a personal motive behind the killings and how he manages to take revenge forms the story. He is not your average cop who does only good deeds. His character is filled with a grey shade which offers strong backing to his actions in the second half. Among the supporting roles, Yogi Babu runs riot with his comedic timing and body language. Nivetha Thomas’ acting as Aaditya’s daughter holds the film intact during the emotional scenes and plays the perfect foil for our superstar.

The film does justice to the superstar genre, and there are plenty of whistle-worthy moments. These moments are amplified by Anirudh’s grand background score. At most places, the BGM is a variant of the Annamalai BGM composed by Deva. However, usage of silence at a few places could have made it a better experience for the audience.

Santosh Sivan, who had last worked with Rajini in Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi has recreated the same magic. Consider Rajini’s introduction scene for instance, where Santosh Sivan brilliantly toys with the lighting to give us frames filled with aesthetics and mass in the right proportion. Like most Murugadoss films, the technical work is solid. The film doesn’t tire you, but a few romantic scenes between Rajini and Nayanthara could have been trimmed to give us a more crisp product.

The stunt sequences in the film stand out, especially the opening sequence and the scene at the Railway Station. The stunts are choreographed by Ram-Lakshman and Peter Hein, and their styles are seen distinctly in various fight scenes. The former’s style is more glossy and over the top, while the latter’s style has a tinge of realism to it. This could work in a positive or a negative way depending upon the taste of the viewer. Overall, Darbar does manage to do justice to both the police thriller genre and the superstar genre. It’s indeed a neatly written film with excusable minor flaws here and there.

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