With the success of “KGF,” Kannada cinema has opened a floodgate of films that are set in the era just after Indian independence, which is the 1960s and 1970s. “KGF” has allowed Kannada cinema to flourish and enter the pan-Indian cinema club, where most of the commercial films are released in all the South Indian languages and Hindi. “Kabzaa” comes under that category, and with the advent of action-oriented commercial films, this movie does not stay behind and makes maximum use of the genre. Directed by R. Chandru, the film is all about a man who is on a revenge spree after goons kill someone close to him. Will he be able to exact revenge, or will he die trying?
The Story Of Arkeshwara
“Kabzaa” begins with a police commissioner named Bhargav Bakshi making an entry to a local park and being welcomed on his new appointment. The man is known for being a ruthless cop. His subordinates make a big show on the occasion of his joining and mostly gather goons from around the state to let them know what the man would be dealing with from here on. Bhargav is known as someone who would do anything to eliminate all the nefarious elements. He is a staunch patriot, and he would do anything for the sake of his motherland. As the goons are around him, Bhargav is unperturbed by the kind of crimes any of them have committed. He considers them nothing in front of what he faced in his prime as a young police officer. Bhargav starts telling the tale of the king of the Mafia in the state of Maharashtra, the ruthless man they had to face in the 1960s and 1970s. The bloodbath that ensued is nothing compared to what he sees right now, claims Bhargav.
He begins by retelling the tale of Arkeshwar, who was the son of an Indian freedom fighter who fought relentlessly against the British and their policies. This is pre-1947, when everything was under the control of the British, and they made sure to squash all kinds of rebellion. Arkeshwar’s father did not budge in the face of oppression, and he had gotten the support of the locals, who were always ready to launch protests. The British finally got the last laugh when they got rid of Arkeshwar’s father by hanging him along with others who were protesting. The mother, in fear of persecution, had to move to the southern part of India, to a town named Amarapura. The mother and her kids, Arkeshwar and Sankeshwara, lived happily, and earned money by spinning yarn and making cotton out of it. The only option the mother had was to keep her sons safe and teach them the values of an independent India and how hard their father fought against the British till his death.
As the kids grow up to become grown men, Arkeshwar is all set to become a pilot with the Indian Air Force. Arkeshwar is in love with the former King Veer Bahaddur’s only daughter and heir of the royal family, Madhumati Bahaddur. Madhumati and Arkeshwar have been in love since their younger days, and she is waiting for him to come back from his training. She is keen on getting married to him, even knowing her father might create an issue. Since she is from a royal lineage and Arkeshwar is not, Madhumati is anticipating problems, but nothing she cannot take care of.
Meanwhile, her father, being of royal lineage, is bitter about the fact that a lot of princely states were assimilated into the Union of India, and the monarchy was abolished. To regain the old power that he had, Veer Bahaddur is keen to stand for the elections. His hunger for power never died, even with his state being assimilated. The man from royal patronage still seeks the kind of power his ancestors held over the state, and by becoming CM, he would bring that old world order back. Though he does not realize it, to be in power, he will have to get the people’s mandate, and it does not work as before. He hatches the plan to destabilize the current CM, Ghanshyam Pandey, and his henchman Khaleed. Khaleed seems to have a hold over Amarapura town; with him in power, there is no chance anybody would be allowed to come up politically. Khaleed is a gangster for the current CM, who does all the dirty work for him. That includes getting rid of the rivals and threatening people to get things their way. Khaleed is someone who is not afraid to see blood bleeding out profusely, and he is known for brutally killing people.
Around this time, Khaleed’s son Sartaaj shows up in town and kills an elderly lady just because he and his father have the power to do anything in the town. Since no one is willing to take a stand against Sartaaj, Sankeshwara stands up for the elderly couple who were just killed, and he ends up killing Sartaaj. Khaleed, in retaliation, gets Sankeshwara arrested, but it is just a ploy to end Sankeshwara’s life. He was not just killed but butchered by Khaleed. Khaaled, being the most powerful man in town, knows he can get away with this crime, and no police officer or agent of the law can come to arrest him.
Arkeshwar heads to the police station, requesting to be helped in his brother’s murder case. The police are unwilling to help because their hands are tied by Khaleed, and Khaleed is wholeheartedly supported by the state chief minister. The police rather arrogantly let him know that there was no way Arkeshwar would get justice. He comes back to let his mother know that he took revenge, which was necessary for him and his deceased brother. The mother is shocked to see Arkeshwar holding the severed head of the man who wronged his brother, him, and his family. Arkeshwar had no option but to get rid of the man who was supposed to make sure his brother remained alive in prison, but that man did the opposite. Arkeshwar takes it upon himself to kill the man.
‘Kabzaa’ Ending Explained – Did Veer Bahaddur Get Back At Arkeshwar?
With Arkeshwar behind bars for killing the police officer, he is joined by Fayaaz, who also has a previous beef with Khaleed. The men join hands in jail and become pals. Arkeshwar is known as the man who stood up to Khaleed’s men, and soon he gets himself recognized for that. Arkeshwar believes that he killed that man only for not helping the poor and the needy. Soon the word goes out that Arkeshwar is a dangerous man while he keeps to himself, and only converses with Fayaaz and his men. Soon, CM candidate Veer Bahaddur comes across Arkeshwar’s name and hopes he can recruit this man to help him win the elections. They will have to wait for him to get out of jail, make him as powerful as Khaleed, and get the votes of the people he is seeking.
Khaleed, on the other hand, wants Arkeshwar dead because he is sure that this man will come after him, and before he does that, it is better to kill the man in jail itself. For that to happen, Khaleed hires and sends the most dangerous gangster around, named Bali, to the jail where Arkeshwar is kept, with the only purpose of killing him. Bali is dreaded by all the inmates, and since Arkeshwar is new to this world of the Mafia, he is not sure who Bali is or what his history is. Bali, on arriving, tries to eliminate Arkeshwar. To save himself from a brutal death, Arkeshwar manages to finish off Bali, a feat no one expects him to carry out. He becomes the most known person in prison, and Veer Bahaddur’s interest in him grows with the gangster’s death.
Arkeshwar finishes his term in jail, and Fayaaz asks him to meet his men outside to make sure he remains safe and away from Khaleed. The moment Arkeshwar was out, he was sought by Khaleed, and his men tried to ambush Arkeshwar and Fayaaz’s men on the way to his den. Fayaaz and Arkeshwar join hands to make sure they end the monopoly of Khaleed, and as expected, he kills the notorious bloodthirsty man for all the things he has unleashed on Arkeshwar and his family. Arkeshwar had nothing to lose when he went out to kill Khaleed. And with him dead, the people of the town also live in the hope that there won’t be anyone else as monstrous as him, and they hope Arkeshwar will take over from here. Taking advantage of the changing wave, Veer Bahaddur brought Arkeshwar onto his side to gain people’s attention and votes. He is successful in doing so, and he wins the election.
Khaleed’s death sent shockwaves around all the mafia kingpins who were connected to him. All of them want one thing, which is to kill Arkeshwar to finally get the power they lost with the death of Khaleed. But Veer Bahaddur is in shock when he comes to know his only daughter, Madhumati, wants to marry Arkeshwar and not the groom he had chosen for her. Her father is against this match, but Madhumati finally decides to marry Arkeshwar because she has been in love with him for years, and she can’t just replace him with anyone else.
But with his marriage to Madhumati, his problems in his field of work seem to only increase as many of the mafia kingpins are willing to get rid of him and grab the power he holds over people. One by one, they come across as the most ruthless ones, and Arkeshwar ends up killing each one of them by bringing all the men from the rival gangs to his side. This way, Arkeshwar became the most wanted and dreadful gangster in the south of India in the 1970s.
Arkeshwar married life is sorted, and he has two kids with Madhumati. Madhumati asks him if she can invite her father to their anniversary celebration. He agrees, but her father, being the egoistic man that he is, asks her to come by his palace to officially invite him. On reaching her father’s place, Veer Bahaddur shows his real face and puts his daughter behind bars for destroying the image of her royal lineage by marrying a commoner and giving birth to his sons. She is shocked to see her father treating her like a criminal, but she hopes she will be saved by Arkeshwar in no time.
Arkeshwar, who is worried about not having heard from Madhumati in a few days, calls Veer Bahaddur to find out about her. He informs him to look for her outside the walls of his faux palatial home. As he goes out, he sees a battalion of policemen surrounding him, spearheaded by Bhargav Bakshi. Arkeshwar is finally made aware that his wife has been kept hostage, and Veer Bahaddur has ordered the police to kill Arkeshwar. Arkeshwar is shocked to witness such a turn of events. The last scene of “Kabzaa” has Arkeshwar being rained down on with a blizzard of ammunition, and finally, an appearance is made by Siddhanta. Arkeshwar was caught off guard by his father-in-law, and he was unprepared for all the things that were going to bombard him. There is no clue if he and his mother will survive this ambush or if they will live to take on final revenge on Veer Bahadur.
I wish there was an easier way to describe how excruciatingly painful it was to watch “Kabzaa” and spend two hours watching a film that has no story, screenplay, or plot for any of us to understand what is happening in the movie. The film is a montage of many fight sequences, with a story clubbed in between and a love story forced in between. Though some of the fight sequences are well choreographed, it is not enough to sustain the film. The leads must be interesting; their arc has to be engaging, and the villain has to be ferocious enough to scare the bejesus out of the audience.
In “Kabzaa,” there are not one or two but plenty of villains who come and go just so the lead can showcase his power and kill them in a certain fashion. Production-wise, there are plenty of historical anachronisms. The director is not sure which era the movie is shot in, and it becomes confusing for the audience. After a point, it gets boring and predictable. How much action can anyone soak into their brains? After a point, I started to notice the mistakes in the subtitles as well. The brain has its capacity. The performances are staged and awful, and the music is appalling; all in all, this movie is not worth your time and inclination.