on Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Story: Corrupt cop Chulbul Pandey ( Salman Khan ) needs to bridge the distance with his step brother, Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan) and stepdad, Vinod Khanna, on the behest of his mother (Dimple Kapadia) even as he needs to set his own house in order by marrying the potter girl (Sonakshi Sinha) who refuses to succumb to his charms. And if that's not enough, there's the local goon, Sonu Sood and the crumbling administration of the small town that is craving his attention too. Can Chulbul Pandey deliver? Movie Review: For anybody who wants to know what is the on-screen definition of Bollywood (read popular mainstream Hindi cinema), Dabangg is truly text book fare. It's loud, crazy, zany, exaggerated, larger-than-life, almost nonsensical, totally make-believe, comic book like, complete kitsch, generously peppered with the mandatory desi tadka (garnishing) of songs and dances that keep popping out of nowhere and is literally oozing with star charisma. Most importantly, it's not meant to make sense. It's only meant to entertain. And entertain, it does in overdoses. No, this isn't meant for people who are looking for different cinema. Nor is it meant for the viewer who likes movies to appeal to his head. Yet, for those who celebrate and serenade the `silliness' of mainstream masala movie lore and swear by its popcorn quotient, Dabangg is the greatest getaway of the season. Debutant director Abhinav Kashyap chooses to walk the road that makes a complete U-turn from brother Anurag Kashyap's edgy, hard-hitting, realistic cinema and opts for a signature tune that re-invents the age-old formula in aaj ka idiom. Plot-wise, the film might make you cringe with it's hackneyed tale of two squabbling step brothers who have the arduous task of keeping the great Indian family together. And guess who's making life even more difficult for the parivaar? Who else but the local goon (Sonu Sood) who tries to play one brother (Arbaaz Khan) against the other (Salman Khan). But all this brouhaha about a non-story is truly irrelevant, because there never was supposed to be a story in Dabangg. The only factor that was supposed to be there was Salman Khan, Salman Khan, Salman Khan...followed by some more Salman Khan. So just sit back and savour the star power of an actor who chooses to enunciate the role of a thoroughbred entertainer. Salman's corrupt cop act as Chulbul Pandey, playing Robin Hoodin a semi-rustic environment is so engaging, you are willing to forgive and forget everything else. As soon as you begin to realise the film hasn't moved at all in terms of story, bingo! There comes Salman swinging his bare fists around, ducking bullets, spewing mischievous threats and abuses, making eyes at his girlfriend (Sonakshi Sinha), creating chaos in his dysfunctional family and breezily breaking the rules with his brattish ways. And in case you still tend to get a bit restless, there is the Pelvic! Watch him gyrate in sync with all those uproarious tunes and you'll be down to your last coin, having flung all the loose change you have on chartbusters like Munni Badnam Hui....And finally, if you still want more, there's the shirt-ripping sequence, where our desi hulk gets to showcase his sculpted torso without having to unbutton it. It simply tears on its own! Now didn't we tell you Bollywood films have their own undefinable logic.... Dabangg is designed as a vehicle to showcase the star charisma of Salman Khan and the actor literally hits bull's eye. He has a ball on screen and makes sure you join the party too. Aiding him are two special factors: the excellent action choreography by S Vijayan (watch out for all of Salman's slow motion antics and the Matrix bends and leaps that are sure-fire taali-seeti fare) and the foot-tapping music score by Sajid-Wajid and newcomer Lalit Pandit. The locales of the film too are exotic and re-create the hinterland ambience that is becoming so popular in Hindi cinema today. Set in a small, sleepy, one-horse town in Uttar Pradesh, Dabangg creates an alluring canvas of decay and dissolution, even as it celebrates the ordinariness of the aam aadmi's life. In terms of performances, the show is definitely anchored by Salman Khan , but debutant Sonakshi Sinha too stands tall. As Salman's silent, shy, yet gritty girlfriend, she has great screen presence and a spontaneous charm. Bad guy, Sonu Sood too ends up as an interesting adversary to our local Robin Hood while Arbaaz Khan articulates the angst of the underdog brother. But hey, in the end, Dabangg is not about theory and analysis; it's only about the Zandu Balm effect of cinema: completely home grown, hybrid, purely desi stress-busting therapy. Period. A word about: Performances: It's a Salman show all the way. The actor is completely in command as the larger-than-life entertainer who knows all the rules of the Bollywood hero act. Newcomer Sonakshi Sinha too impresses with her spontaneity and spunk. Story: Now that's the weak link. Too hackneyed, this tale of sibling rivalry. Dialogues: They spring straight from the Hindi heartland and are street-smart, colloquial and sometimes silly. Cinematography: The small town has been created well with all its colourful disarray by cinematographer Mahesh Limaye. Action: Now that's the highpoint! S Vijayan's absolutely unbelievable stunts truly add to Salman's larger-than-life image. Music: Dabangg boasts of a great soundtrack by Sajid-Wajid, with a special number by newcomer Lalit Pandit: Munni Badnam Hui which is fast topping the charts as item number one! The fight between good and bad has been the fodder of many a Hindi film of 1970s and 1980s. In fact, it wouldn't be erroneous to state that these films dominated the cinema of yore and a lot of us, who have grown up on masala films/wholesome entertainers, will vividly recall the serpentine queues outside cinema halls and a mad scramble to book the tickets of those films. Hardcore masala films were relished with glee by the audience then.However, for some inexplicable reason, masala films became extinct or should I say, disappeared from the face of Hindi cinema over a period of time. GHAJINI and WANTED revived this genre, bringing back memories of the bygone era. Now DABANGG takes this genre one step ahead. Be forewarned. DABANGG is rustic, has loads of action, harps on the age-old mother-son and varied relationships [half-brother, step-father], eventually turns into a vendetta fare, has a number of songs placed smartly in the narrative [including an item number]... but the packaging is slick and polished. Sure, it's old wine, but packed in a brand new bottle, with a new brand ambassador [Salman Khan] endorsing this masalathon. Most importantly, it has Salman like never before. Breathing fire and venom, Chulbul Pandey aka Robinhood Pandey taps Salman's star power like no film has and the result is sheer magic. In fact, DABANGG stands on three pillars - Salman's star power, smashing stunts and super music. Final word? Salman fans, rejoice! You walk in DABANGG with 100% expectations and you exit with 200% gratification. Entertainment guaranteed. This film will create a pandemonium of sorts, a mass hysteria, crushing old records and setting new benchmarks at the box-office. Set in Uttar Pradesh, DABANGG is a story of Chulbul Pandey [Salman Khan], a totally fearless but corrupt police officer with unorthodox working methods. But even the most fearless at times face a tough fight with their innermost demons. Chulbul has had a bitter childhood. His father passed away when he was very young, after which his mother [Dimple Kapadia] married Prajapati Pandey [Vinod Khanna]. Together, they had a son Makhanchan [Arbaaz Khan]. Prajapati favors Makhanchan, which does not go down well with Chulbul. He decides to take control of his destiny and detaches himself from his step-father and half-brother. His sole attachment is his mother. However, after his mother's demise and an unsuccessful attempt to mend wounds, Chulbul snaps all ties with his step-father and half-brother. Rajo [Sonakshi Sinha], with her unique perspective of life, enters his world and turns life upside down. Chulbul starts to see life more positively and also gets sensitized to the value of a family. But his detractors, especially the dubious Cheddi Singh [Sonu Sood], have their own vested interests and emerge as spokes in the wheels, putting one brother against the other. Makhanchan ends up carrying out an act oblivious to the consequences. When Makhanchan realizes he has been used, he turns to Chulbul. Will Chulbul take his extended hand? Will the brothers be able to thwart their detractors? The job of a promo is to give a gist of the film and prepare the audience well in advance about what to expect when they saunter into an auditorium. The promos of DABANGG have sent the right signals to the audience about it being a paisa vasool entertainer. Let's face it, DABANGG has nothing ground-breaking to offer as far as its plot is concerned. We've visited similar stories in the past, but what makes DABANGG shine, and shine brightly, is Salman's star power, which camouflages the aberrations wonderfully. The darling of the masses has been cast in a role that his fans love to see him in, which explains why this film works from start to end. Like I pointed out earlier, DABANGG is special for two more reasons: S. Vijayan's stunts and Sajid-Wajid's music, with an additional song by Lalit Pandit. Talking of action scenes, Salman's introduction at the start and the fight-to-finish in the climax will send the masses in frenzy. To state that the action scenes are outstanding, especially the fight in the finale, would be an understatement. In the finale fight, when Salman's shirt tears apart and the rippling muscles and the bare-chest fight ensues, mark my words, it will lead to chaos at mass-dominated centres, especially at single screens. The climax will be one of the prime reasons for repeat viewing, for sure. It's difficult to accommodate music in an action film, but Sajid-Wajid come up with a melodious score. The title track, 'Tere Mast Mast Do Nain' and 'Munni' [composed by Lalit Pandit] are the icing on the cake. Director Abhinav Singh Kashyap is in his element. He's made an out and out entertainer with an eye at the masses and he succeeds in his endeavour. Doing justice to vintage formula is no cakewalk, let's not forget. Besides, the director stays away from going overdramatic while handling the dramatic and emotional moments. This explains why you don't exit the theatre with a spinning head. Mahesh Limaye's cinematography is perfect. I'd like to make a note of the editing [Pranav V. Dhiwar], which is super-slick in action scenes. Dialogue, especially those delivered by Salman, will be greeted with claps and whistles. Especially the one 'Itne chhed karunga'. Salman Khan is the boss, when it comes to playing to the masses. This film reaffirms this truth. The role provides him ample opportunity to prove his star power and he does it with remarkable ease. Let me put it on record. DABANGG is yet another landmark film in his career, besides MAINE PYAR KIYA, HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN, JUDWAA [tapping the funny side], TERE NAAM [tapping the emotional side] and WANTED. Sonakshi Sinha looks fresh, acts confidently and pairs off very well with Salman. Most importantly, she delivers the right expressions and is not overpowered by the galaxy of stars in the cast. Arbaaz Khan is efficient. He underplays his part well. Sonu Sood is electrifying, matching up to Salman at every step. In fact, the fight in the finale between Salman and Sonu is awe-inspiring. Vinod Khanna is excellent in a role that has grey shades. Dimple Kapadia is truly wonderful. Anupam Kher is, as always, good. Ditto for Om Puri. Mahesh Manjrekar doesn't get ample scope. Mahi Gill is alright. Tinnu Anand is effective. Murli Sharma is nice. Malaika Arora Khan sizzles in the 'Munni' track. On the whole, DABANGG is a full on entertainer with three aces - Salman Khan like never before, stylish action and super music. It's a foregone conclusion that DABANGG will open huge. As far as the business prospects are concerned, the film will set new benchmarks, so much so that DABANGG will be one of the yardsticks to gauge the level of business in times to come. Sure to fetch an earth-shattering opening, the film will create a pandemonium at the box-office, cementing the status of Salman Khan as the darling of the masses and making the distributors laugh all the way to the bank. It has Blockbuster written all over it!

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