Darbaan is a story that revolves around the inspiring depiction of Rabindranath Tagore. It is based on how a servant who is too loyal and faithful does the most unimaginable act of sacrificing his son in order to keep his master’s family happy.
Bipin Nadkarni, who is a Marathi filmmaker, adapted the story and added his own narration. The story kickstarts in the year 1971 and is arranged in the setting of the past government that was led by Indira Gandhi and her decision to nationalize coal mines.
Naren Tripathi aka Harsh Chhaya along with his family live in a palatial house, and for Tripathi, his go-to manservant is Raicharan (Sharib). Ramcharan arrived at the Tripathi’s as an infant and grew up taking care of Naren’s child, Anukul (Sharad Kelkar), forming a deep bond with the latter. After the nationalization process leaves the Tripathi out of business, they pack up and depart, leaving Raicharan without a master, who then goes onto live a monotonous life in his village with his wife Bhuri (Rasika Dugal). When an all-grown-up Anukul comes back and asks Raicharan to return to take care of his son, he doesn’t hesitate. But Raicharan loses the child one day, and who is feared dead. Accusations fly and Raicharan is forced to leave. A few years after, Raicharan becomes a parent and he brings up his own child as though he was serving his master’s son. Eventually, consumed by guilt, he gives up his son to fill the void in his master’s family.
While the narrative offers us a dewy-eyed tale — the slow-paced screenplay aids that effort — the story remains underexplored. An adapted screenplay but one which takes into account the evolved times could have served Darbaan better, besides its endearing soundtrack.
There is no convincing explanation or desire shown by the filmmaker to explore understated facts from the script — why does Raicharan feel this compelling desire to eternally remains in servitude of a family?
Flora Saini’s character as Anukul’s wife is criminally underwritten and she has no scope besides a few dialogues about a mother’s instinct. Sharad Kelkar walks around as a figure of poise but has little to contribute to the emotional quotient of the film.
The star, undeniably, is Sharib Hashmi, who puts forth a performance worthy of note. The little transitions in his character as Raicharan ages sum up a convincing display by the actor. However, beyond his classy performance, Darbaan seems like a script better suited to the stage than the canvas of a cinema.