Sigh... what can I say? I guess every job has days like a film reviewer's Kabirdas days. If I was the only person on a remote island, somewhere in the back of beyond, with no contact with the outside world except an old black and white TV set which worked about 3 hours a week and received only one channel and that channel was showing Kabirdas, I doubt I would watch it. Still, a reviewer's gotta do what a reviewer's gotta do.
A childless Muslim couple, on their way home, find a baby in a pond and decide to adopt it. When naming time comes around, the elders decide it shall be Kabir, because the Holy Quran seems to want it that way. Our boy grows up in two frames, faster than Amitabh Bachchan used to in the grow-up-while-running days of Hindi cinema. For the son of a poor medicine man, Kabir sure dresses in some snazzy outfits. Anyway, he basically decides he likes the preachings of a Hindu priest and becomes his disciple.
Then on, he goes around disparaging both Hinduism and Islam, but is also a staunch devotee of Lord Rama. Some well-known character actors of the yesteryears come and go as we are introduced to more of Kabir's ideology. He manages to reform the majority thinking by singing and dancing with a daphli sort of thingie.
Sooo... ennyway... Kabir's dad cops it, and since our man hasn't learnt much of anything, he's pretty much a babe in the woods. But he manages to get married to some girl who is convinced this guy is destined to be her husband, since her dad tells her so. Will someone please tell Mr. Rai I'm still waiting for Aishwarya's call? This is too much - there's a limit to your patience, you know.
Coming back to the story, Kabir turns out to be an irresponsible family man. He just basically can't be asked to get off his back and earn to support his family. He's happy to chow down with his sanyasi pals and have these far out conversations, while his children are going hungry. So his babe sort of hotfoots it out of there, finds out life's a bitch on your own, and promptly hotfoots it back.
The villagers threaten them mainly because they can't stand to see a jobless man so content with himself and life in general. So Kabir, the wife 'n' kids and some followers set up shop in an ashram-in-the-woods. The daughter grows up to be Gowthami, providing the 15 minutes of eye-candy. Then the next few episodes include Kabir meets the Evil King, Kabir and the Elephant, Kabir is Tortured, Death of Kabir. If you know your Kabir history, yes, he turns into rose petals.
I'm not so sure about the historical accuracy part. Most of it looks very suspiciously like it was pinched from the story of Christ - except for the marriage part, of course. Kabir seems so drowned in Hinduism that he's almost never shown doing anything Islamic. The movie shows Hindus and Muslims united in their hate for a man who basically wanted to be neither. And I'm not sure putting a cabaret number (I ask you!) and a love-seduction number (for God's sake!) in a religious film is the best of ideas. Kabir's dohas do make a lot of sense and I fully appreciate the message of religious harmony, but I'm not sure I'd be showing kids Kabirdas to tell them the story of Kabir anytime soon!
The idea may not appeal to everyone, what with it being a religious film and all, but the best part about this movie was probably the empty hall. And there were already some smart people there who figured it out. Have you?