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Kabzaa on OTT: Recapping what audiences disapproved of filmmaker R Chandru’s Upendra-led film ahead of its streaming debut

The film, which had Upendra in the lead, along with cameos by Sudeep and Shivarajkumar, is coming to Amazon Prime Video on April 14, less than a month after its theatrical release

Kabzaa on OTT: Recapping what audiences disapproved of filmmaker R Chandru’s Upendra-led film ahead of its streaming debut
Upendra, Sudeep and Shiva Rajkumar in Kabzaa

Last Updated: 02.05 PM, Apr 10, 2023


Kannada filmmaker R Chandru’s Kabzaa was supposed to be the next big thing from Sandalwood, after the stupendous year the industry had in 2022 with films like KGF: Chapter 2, 777 Charlie, Vikrant Rona and Kantara. A gangster flick, the film, led by Real Star Upendra, was heavily inspired by KGF, which Chandru was open about. While that proved to be Kabzaa’s Achilles Heel, the film had several other issues, owing to which it became a box office disaster.

The film, which released in theatres on March 17, is coming to OTT within a month, just like Darshan’s Kranti earlier this year. Kabzaa will drop on Amazon Prime Video in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi on April 14. Here’s a recap of why Kabzaa was universally panned.

Promotional still for Kabzaa
Promotional still for Kabzaa

1) R Chandru had openly declared that his objective in making Kabzaa was to prove that it would be possible to make another film like KGF after all. While everyone assumed he meant to match the scale and grandeur, it turns out that his idea was to replicate the entire template, so much so that his story then lacked logic.

2) For starters, to get the look and feel right, he employed the services of art director Shivakumar and Cinematographer AJ Shetty, wherein the former was responsible for creating KGF’s sets, while the latter was familiar with the colour grading and visual aesthetics deployed in Yash’s film, on account of having assisted Bhuvan Gowda.

3) Then, Chandru got KGF composer Ravi Basrur on board, and he composed the music and background score as if it was another instalment of the Prashant Neel-directed franchise.


4) The final straw came in the editing, with the filmmaker showing off just how much he fell in love with Prashant’s black-out style pattern, which Kabzaa had in abundance.

5) Throughout the promotions of the film, Chandru had insisted that his film would only look like KGF, and that the story is vastly different. The filmmaker was not entirely truthful there, as he presented a tale of an air force officer, whose violent acts to avenge the death of a near one, then lead him to becoming a dreaded gangster. The motivation behind Arkeshwara’s (Upendra) rise to the top of the underworld is sketchy at best.

6) The film opens with a high-ranking police officer, Bhargav Bakshi (Sudeep) in present day, addressing a ‘gathering of goons’ who have been assembled for no particular reason, and telling them the story of a man (Arkeshwara) and his rise in the underworld. In the ending sequence of the film, Bhargav is shown moving in with his battalion to take down Arkeshwara. While Sudeep looks magnificent in both these scenes, it so happens that the second one is set in the 70s, meaning that he’s not aged even a tad in the 50 years since.

Kiccha Sudeep in his Kabzaa cameo as Bhargav Bakshi
Kiccha Sudeep in his Kabzaa cameo as Bhargav Bakshi

7) There was much ado about nothing as far as the film’s antagonists go. For the sake of listing big names on the cast, Kabzaa had an almost endless list of villains, all of who were supposed to be dreaded men in the underworld. There was so much build-up around each of these characters, that one expected some kind of conflict between them and Arkeshwara. Instead, each of them dies almost immediately after. Nawab Shah, Posani Murali Krishna, Kabir Duhan Singh, John Kokken, Jagapathi Babu, Ninasam Ashwath, Kota Srinivas Rao, among many others, had roles that were not worth a mention, eventually.

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