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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Salman Khan's Dabangg denotes Bollywood's return to roots [Movie Review]

Salman Khan has turned the tables once again. His latest movie, Dabangg, is all set to be one of the biggest ever hits in Bollywood history. Not just Salman fans but even film-buffs who never had a special liking for the macho star, seem enchanted by the film.

Dabangg is quitessential Bollywood masala movie packed with action, emotion and some romance. So what sets it apart from other films? For me, the foremost positive point of the movie is that the poor man is again back in the big-budget movies.

Who would have imagined that a woman selling earthen pots could be the heroine in a movie anymore? Sonakshi Sinha who plays the female lead role opposite Salman Khan, sells 'surahis' and her father is an alcoholic who is to be dragged back home often from the street or railway track.

It's not Circa 1975 and it's several generations since Sholay, still, it works. Fed up with NRI or homegrown millionaires of the likes of the 'sophisticated' Raj Malhotras whose filthy rich ladylove would only travel in swanky cars, it's a surprising and welcome relief.

Even the role of Chulbul 'Robinhood' Pandey, played by Salman, is that of a middle-level cop who barely understands English and lives in a humble house, later getting a quarter allotted in the police line. Bollywood is back not just in UP but also its main characters are from poor background or representing lower-class stratum of the society. [Earlier this year the low-budget movie Ishqiya, that had got commercial success, was also set in Uttar Pradesh]


Further, the story is based not in a metropolitan city rather in a small town. Pandey is shown working for Lalganj police station and it appears to be a small town in the midst of rural Indian heartland. Pandey has a strained relationship with his stepfather and stepbrother.

He becomes a policeman, a crook cop, who can eliminate anyone by staging a fake encounter, and has no qualms in taking bribe, of course, from big criminals. After all, he has to survive in the system where corrupt politicians have nexus with the outlaws. Still, this 'crazy' supercop has certain principles and he will go to any lenghts to ensure that the poor gets justice.

For the last year or so, Indian audience was waxing eloquent about evolving Bollywood movies that may not necessarily have the song-and-dance scenes. 'Intelligent cinema' was the buzzword. But here is another movie that doesn't require audience to think much.

The film has incredible stunts, the item song 'Munni badnaam hui' and some crude jokes have been thrown in to keep us hooked for almost two hours. However, despite being a 'formula film', it somehow gels this time. After the debacle of the much-hyped Veer, Salman badly needed a hit and Dabangg appears to be a mega blockbuster.
While Amir Khan may be the cerebal actor and Shahrukh Khan seen as the star catering to the classes, it is the 'bad boy' Salman--who seems to connect with the masses. Either it's multiplex or theaters in small towns, the movie is getting packed houses everywhere and it's a testimony to his charisma.

In his mid-40s the third of the Khan troika doesn't seem tired or aging as yet. The stunts may be a bit unreal, with bombs exploding and jeeps being blown off and going up in air and falling after somersaults, but the hero survives it all. [Dabang is a word used in North and Central India. The meaning, as per Comprehensive Urdu-English dictionary is 'bully'. Origin: dabaana, dabang=one who can put others down, also used for someone who is courageous, the movie-makers say that dabang means fearless]

The dialogues, particularly, the punchlines for Salman and his swagger, are a hit with his fans. After this movie, we will see lot of youths tucking their sunglasses behind their collar, just like the cop Chulbul Pandey does it. With record earning of around Rs 50 crore [500 million] in the opening weekend at the box office, once again Sallu has proved his critics wrong.

Perhaps, along side Peeple Live, movie-goers also need movies like Dabangg that are just meant to entertain. Movies where the hero plays the superman and gets cheered by the crowd until it's happy ending. Dabangg is certainly one such movie and it is not at all necessary to judge all movies as per the Western definition of cinema.

We enjoy it, we give a thumbs up. That's all.