From the first few scenes in Kaabil, you know this idea is not going to work. Never mind cinema, even on paper, the notion of a movie star playing a visually impaired romantic who dates, then marries, then has his similarly impaired life partner raped by villains early on in the film, is an unlikely starter. Surely, Hrithik Roshan must have realized that he is not going to be able to play this as a method actor, that the director he is working with is not known for including cinematic realism amongst his predilections, and that if this idea is not executed with a high degree of skill and commitment, and with excellent support from his co-actors, it is going to be a dud? Apparently he didn’t.
As soon as you see Rohan Bhatnagar (Hrithik) fumbling around playing blind man’s buff, rolling his eyes in the opposite direction from his gaze, your heart sinks. His lover and then wife, Supriya Bhatnagar (Yami Gautam), sightless herself, plays her role with a little more conviction. But the actors who really take the cake in Kaabil are the villains, played by the brothers Ronit and Rohit Roy. As people with motiveless malignity - there is no explanation offered about what exactly makes them behave like characters out of a medieval street play, with ‘evil’ written on their foreheads - one ends up raping a blind woman, the other excuses his crime. Hamming through their roles, they turn villainy into low art.
On another level, it could be said that this is an exploitation movie. Far from making you empathize with the world of the visually impaired, the plot and presentation is so completely insensitive that it sometimes even uses the challenges of the blind for purposes of entertainment. A villain is supposed to be a crass person, one knows, but jokes that he makes about the love life of the couple - "how do they do it without seeing? By feeling around, of course" and "I knew love was blind, but this is taking it too far” - encourages a few laughs from the audience, and this is intentional and unfortunate.
With all this drivel swirling around you, it is difficult to be either moved or entertained by Kaabil. What is left to savour in the movie is Hrithik showcasing one or two of his gifts. On visiting a dance class to meet Supriya, who plays piano for the dancers, he demonstrates some of his best moves in an all too brief scene. Then again, he plays a dubbing artist, by profession, in the movie, and so in other scenes, more crucial to the plot of the film, we enjoy some of his skills at mimicking a variety of voices.
Overall, it can be argued that Kaabil is easily the most disappointing film in recent times, at least amongst movies with a major star in the lead role.