About the story: Because of his elder brother Ranjit Verma (Raj Babbar), who works as a lawyer for the don Veljibhai Soda (Paresh Rawal), young Ravi (Sanjay Dutt), aimlessly living just for the moment, gets in with the company of the don’s gang. Veljibhai has promised a client to get him the properties of the do-gooder Ustad Ali Mohammed (Alok Nath), but the latter rejects all offers and threatenings as he intends to build a children’s paradise on his land. Veljibhai orders Ravi to terrorize and intimidate the old man to finally make him give up. But when Ali Mohammed pays Ravi bad with good, Ravi is ashamed to the extend that he begs the old man’s forgiveness and becomes his friend. Now Veljibhai makes short shrift of Ali Mohammed and gets him killed. When he then learns that the old man has willed his entire property to Ravi, Veljibhai believes to have achieved his aim. But Ravi refuses to give him the land because he finally has found the meaning of his life: He wants to carry out his mentor’s plans. He breaks with Veljibhai and thus impresses his brother Ranjit to the extend that the latter also resigns from his job at the don’s. As a cruel result, Ranjit is tortured to death by Veljibhai’s henchmen. As Ravi at the same time comes to know that he is suffering from a brain tumour and just has little time left to live, he throws all caution to the winds and starts a merciless retaliation campaign against Veljibhai and his men...
Kabzaa is a thrilling story, told as a flashback after starting with Sanjay, blood-bathed, half dead and with five bullets in his body, stumbling out on an empty road in the mid of the night... So you get your first gooseflesh right from the beginning, and you are in the right mood for the rest. Strong co-stars like Alok Nath or Paresh Rawal are flanked by two attractive women, Amrita Singh and Dimple Kapadia, who as Ravi’s and Ranjit’s girl-friends are a bit underemployed – but frankly, in this case it doesn’t matter. For the conflict fought out by the men is too thrilling that you seriously would like it to be interrupted by needless flirtations.
Sanjay impresses once again by the range of his emotions which he can show without words, just with his eyes and his acting – be it his guilty conscience and his immeasurable remorsefulness towards Ali Mohammed, his happiness and affection at his brother’s engagement or his sorrow at his mentor’s grave – you really want to reach out into the screen to wipe away his tears. Director Mahesh Bhatt obviously had a good sense for these special abilities of Sanjay’s; like in Naam, he also in Kabzaa captured Sanjay’s surges of emotion in strong scenes and touching pictures. But more than that, Sanjay also acquired more and more the facets of the merciless revenger, a character he was to play in several of his following films. So Ravi in Kabzaa is an early example for the combination of "emotional popular figure" and "unconditional avenger" which henceforth was to become a trademark for most of Sanju’s roles.
By the way: 18 years later, in the blockbuster Lage Raho Munnabhai, Sanju was to spread Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence, though in an unusual way. All the more interesting are therefore his first Gandhi-encounters in Kabzaa...
Produced by Nanabhai Bhatt; Directed by Mahesh Bhatt
145 Min.; DVD: Spark, English Subtitles (including songs)
P.S. As the following chapter of my review might be interesting just for German readers I made it a post scriptum here. But for us, Kabzaa provides a very funny gag in the scene when Sanju in a record store asks Amrita for a "romantic" record and she gives him an exemplar (vaah! nostalgia! it’s a good old vinyl long playing record!) telling him that this is the most up-to-date one. And on the cover you can clearly read "This is Max Greger". The name is combined with a picture which doesn’t look like a Max Greger record at all so I suppose the cover was made specially for this film to evade covert advertising for a real record. But that an "up-to-date romantic Indian record" should be made by the Bavarian saxophonist and swing legend Max Greger – sorry, I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit... *g*