After watching the trailer, it's clear that writer-director R Chandru has generously borrowed many elements of the coal-dust-covered universe of the KGF series.
The trailer of Kabzaa was released on Saturday. Starring seasoned filmmaker and actor Upendra in the lead role, the trailer was cut with the sole intention of giving the audience a glimpse of the film's scale. The teaser that was released earlier was subjected to a lot of scrutiny over the film's similarities with director Prashanth Neel's blockbuster franchise KGF.
After watching the trailer, it's clear that writer-director R Chandru has generously borrowed many elements of the coal-dust-covered universe created by Prashanth. And one must add that Chandru has borrowed generously. It's as if Kabzaa was shot on the sets that were built using materials salvaged from the sets of KGF. Even the main emotion that drives the plot seems to have some resemblance to the KGF. Judging from the trailer, the character played by Shriya Saran might as well be similar to the poor and malnourished mother Shanthamma of KGF 2. But, Shriya's Madhumathi is only wealthy. In other words, the heavy emotional drama that drives the plot might involve a gritty story of a mother and her son, who moves heaven and earth to fulfil his mother's wish.
To refresh your memory, in KGF, Yash's Rocky is set on the pursuit of absolute power and wealth by his late mother. He strives his whole life to fulfil the promise that he made to her before poverty and sickness took her away at a very young age.
Kabzaa seems to also have themes like forced labour, an outlaw becoming a nightmare for the government and a Robin Hood-esque hero. A few of the motifs we saw in the KGF series.
KGF: Chapter 1 was a big hit in 2017. And KGF: Chapter 2 opened a new chapter in the Kannada film industry. It did to Kannada cinema what director SS Rajamouli's Baahubali series did to Indian cinema. Following the monstrous nationwide success of KGF 2, the reputation of Kannada cinema changed overnight. It became a formidable force in Indian cinema. And yes, it inspired the Kannada filmmakers to dream big and make movies not just for the Kannada-speaking population but for every movie-watching audience in the world.
Kabzaa is clearly made with the newfound passion and ambition of Kannada cinema. From making a pulpish romantic drama as I Love You to making a period movie of this scale must have been a huge undertaking for Chandru. And of course, he would have needed a blueprint to navigate the new waters. And that KGF franchise provided the filmmaker with that road map. However, the problem is with KGF still dominating the pop cultural discussions in India and being fresh in our memory, it's a bit hard to look at Kabzaa from a fresh perspective.
The trailer of Kabzaa doesn't offer us much insight into its plot. It only gives us the mood of the movie, which is heavy and larger-than-life. And introduces us to a bunch of what seems like ruthlessness men who are ready to do anything for the sake of power.
The film is set in pre-independent India. And the story seems to flow well into India's formation as an independent country and what the film promises to be the rise of the "first Indian gangster." The movie also has a massive supporting cast, including Sudeep and Shivarajkumar.
It has grand visuals, a multi-star cast, and an engaging background score. It remains to be seen whether it has a good enough story that will encourage us to see beyond its borrowings from the KGF and root for it.
Kabzaa will arrive in cinemas on March 17.