At first, the 2017 film Kaabil ("Capable") seems like just another one of the standard Bollywood love stories, with a twist. This time around the narrative offers a love story which turns into a tragedy, then evolves into a thriller, concluding with a resolution that is a credit to the film's title.
Hrithik Roshan stars as Rohan Bhatnagar, a blind man who earns a living dubbing English cartoons into Hindi. He meets the very pretty Supriya (Yami Gautam), a blind musician. Their lack of vision doesn't prevent them from sharing positive perspectives on life and a pursuit of happiness. They fall in love, marry, and begin building a beautiful life together.
With Hrithik Roshan in the film, you must have a dance number. As Rohan announces that he wants to explore the floor at the dance studio with Supriya, it is literally the blind leading the blind. One wonders how in the world this will work. The delightful number "Mon Amour" demonstrates how by showcasing Roshan's trademark dance style while leveraging other dancers to help the couple avoid mishaps.
Just as the love story between Rohan and Supriya has started, it is soon disrupted by uninvited miscreants.
Enter Amit Shellar (Rohit Roy) and friend, who see an opportunity to take physical advantage of the attractive Supriya while Rohan is at work. Amit's older brother Madhavrao Shellar (played by Rohit Roy's older brother Ronit Roy) is politically connected and manages to cause a series of events that prevent Rohan and Supriya from bringing charges against Amit. Exhausted and drained, the couple realizes they are powerless against the evil that has crossed their threshold. When Supriya responds with a desperate act, Rohan discovers the police are in the pocket of the Shellars. Rohan plans revenge.
One might criticize the selection of sighted actors to portray blind characters; however, Roshan and Gautam do their best to portray the visual impaired couple. What captures your attention is the joy that they bring to the characters. Director Sanjay Gupta describes Rohan and Supriya as:
"They're both smiling, happy, colorful people. They celebrate life much more than we do. And when the two of them come together, you realize there is so much joy and happiness and there's so much more light in their world than our own."
Hrithik Roshan echoes this sentiment by relating how letting go of the visual landscape helped the joy-filled personalities of the characters emerge:
"As an actor I discovered that not seeing someone increases your perception to absorb the person's presence and you, in fact, get more attentive to the tone - is she smiling, is she not. To sense that. It kind of worked both ways and it was just the most beautiful thing because when we saw us on the monitor we had very nice broad smiles on our faces."
When Amit and Madhav bring darkness and despair into this otherwise light and lovely story you can't help but hope that Rohan is successful in his revenge.
Fortunately, Rohan has a particular set of skills which enable him to set traps for the Shellar brothers and the system that done him wrong. While the road to retaliation is rough, Rohan's enhanced perception of the world through sound, smell, touch, and taste enables him to confound the police while he metes out his well-planned punishments.
Kaabil offers enough of a twist in the standard love and revenge narrative to make it an entertaining film.
The following playlist features the trailer and making of featurettes for Kaabil.
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