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Dabangg review: Catch the new Salman Khan!

Dabangg review: Catch the new Salman Khan!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Thursday 9 September 2010

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Movie Title

Dabangg

Director

Abhinav Kashyap

Star Cast

Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonu Sood, Arbaaz Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Vinod Khanna

It's no surprise that the theatre for a morning show is packed (not house-full) with eager viewers. For the pre-release buzz that this film has enjoyed is massive.

Everyone?s looking for a repeat show of Salman Khan's Wanted; that mind-numbingly empty film that was last year?s big hit. Dabangg is not Wanted; it's far better and less violent. And that may not be such a good thing for the film. The common joke doing rounds is 'Buy two tickets for Dabangg, one for you and the other for your brain', meaning that you need to set aside your brains to watch the film. No such need, thanks.

In Wanted, Salman Khan was the story, the script and the saviour. Here his character is more deeply etched, there are supporting characters that contribute to the story, and the heroine does more than wailing loudly when the goons gather to molest her yet again.

In fact, here the heroine (Sonakshi Sinha, promising) doesn?t wail at all, and is a small-town toy-maker who has taken the tough decision to remain unmarried to take care of her alcoholic father.

Salman plays Chulbul Pandey who lives in small-town Uttar Pradesh with his mother (Dimple Kapadia), step-father (Vinod Khanna) and step-brother (Arbaaz Khan). From the time he was a child, Chulbul protested against the preferential treatment towards the brother (Arbaaz Khan).

The void between Chulbul and his step-family grows as time passes, and this forms the crux of the story. Add a local politician (Sonu Sood) who tries to take advantage of the broken family, and you have the plot.

The most interesting aspect of Dabangg is, predictably, Chulbul Pandey. Chulbul is the sort who is swaggering in slow-mo wearing that spotless cop uniform, single-handedly defeating an entire gang using a water hose, and then dancing comically to a baddie's cell-phone ringtone.

Chulbul calls himself Robinhood Pandey, and claims that the money recovered from the goons has 'disappeared'. This money, we are told, he distributes among the needy. But we're only seeing Chulbul give it to a cop who he himself had shot, and to victims of poisonous alcohol. Apart from a greedy policeman and alcoholics, we never witness him helping anyone truly deserving.

Again, the film's pace slows when a relative's death is shown is detail, and then repeated. The finale is made up of the good guy vs. bad guy fight: a blur of crashing walls, smashed glass, breaking bones, and bloody noses. And yes, you also witness Salman's muscles (literally) ripping through his shirt, and you finally have the Salman Shirtless Moment.

Saji-Wajid's music is quite unlike their usual work. There's a brilliant song on the lines of Omkara and Beera Beera, paying tribute to the central character. The other songs are melodic as well.

Salman Khan and Chulbul Pandey feed off each other. It's not a revelation that Salman's fans don't like to see him 'act'; they just want him to play a screen version of himself (or more succinctly, his carefully cultivated image). So that's what Salman does. He plays the charming rogue to perfection and with his trademark show of effortlessness.

One wishes there was more of Sonakshi Sinha; she makes a promising debut and plays her character with a quiet strength. Arbaaz Khan's character is an interesting one, and the actor does full justice.

Debut director Abhinav Kashyap adds in elements from the 1970s and 1980s potboilers: the larger-than-life dialogue, the good son who's a cop, the sneering villain, the helpless mother, the village girl, and so on.

Dabangg is an evolved version of Wanted. The hero is not all-pervasive. He can beat up a roomful of baddies but also shed a tear over his estranged family. These nuances are appreciable, but the film lacks the pace and drama of a full-blown entertainer.

Still, better than all the other choices at the theatre currently. Don't buy into the hype, and you'll find it an entertaining enough single-time watch.

Verdict: 3 stars

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