Why experiment when repetition can earn you big bucks? Why look for originality when tested “items” could make the public sway? This seems to be on Arbaaz Khan’s mind as he dons the director’s mantle for this sequel here now of Dabangg which not only resurrected his brother Salman Khan’s failing fortunes at the box office but also engineered an epidemic of action comedies in Bollywood which was losing its mass base back in 2010.
The very names of the characters — Chulbul, Makkhi Chhedi and Rajjo — gave us a feel of the hinterland, which had lost its place in the mainstream gloss, and what they did underlined the audacity the title promised. And when the credits roll one does want to know what’s next in the life of Chulbul Pandey. Arbaaz brings a little coherence to the proceedings without compromising on the unabashed machismo that Abhinav Kashyap unleashed in the original. It takes us back to times when Dharam was Garam and Bachchan kicked in as Vijay. An entry scene where the hero announces his arrival by bashing up the goons, a local MLA who has become a sore for society, the hero silences the blustering brother of the MLA and the wily politician strikes back….
It is a screenplay of convenience but writer Dilip Shukla has been able to imbue the flavour of eastern UP in the narrative as Chulbul Pandey now operates in Kanpur. It unravels in a space where ego is a sacred emotion, nobility is judged by the ends and not means and where forgiveness suits only that snake which has got the poison. While other films in this genre remain overtly exaggerated, here you have something tangible at the core that you can hold on to even when Arbaaz expects you to suspend disbelief.
The action sequences are stoutly built and the dialogue forces you into clap trap. The middle portion, which was a weak link in the original, is mended well by Arbaaz and Shukla as you feel for Chulbul when he builds up a relationship with his foster father (Vinod Khanna) and brother Makkhi (Arbaaz himself).
His sweet nothings with Rajjo are not only pleasant but also give you an idea of the conservative world that Chulbul inhabits. Where public display of love can happen only in dreams, where even in the confines of your home you look around before giving a peck on the cheek of your beloved. It is refreshing to see such obstacles back in our love stories and around them composers Sajid Wajid weave a gossamer tapestry with Dagabaaz Re . In folksy Pandeyji Bajaye Seeti , they have rehashed Shailendra’s Chalat Musafir number of Teesri Kasam but the effect is additive and so is the risqué item number that is based on an adhesive.
The casting is spot on and the performances suit the atmosphere. Vinod Khanna is impressive and Sonakshi looks the part but it is Prakash Raj and Deepak Dobriyal who lend weight to the tussle. Even the smaller players are selected with care.
Salman once again excels in this male bastion where action and comedy entwine in daily life. Take, for instance, the scene where when in an intense setting Gainda (Deepak Dobriyal) takes on Chulbul, his own sidekick quietly comments that his boss is posturing more than his personality commands.
Be it odd dance movements or over-the-top dialogue, Salman has become a more assured Chulbul. The big boy not only makes you laugh with his crazy antics but also cries. Well, he is in a zone these days. After spending more than two decades in the industry, Salman has finally become a character.
For once the star and the role seem to be made for each other. It is something like what Subhash Ghai created for Shatrughan Sinha in Kalicharan . You can’t imagine one without the other.
In an attempt to keep it light, the third act is not fully realised. The villain has not been really allowed to flex his muscle or show his wily ways. You never doubt the invincibility of Chulbul and Arbaaz doesn’t even try to test it. Even the customary Salman’s shirtless scene fails to invoke the adrenaline rush. It is a let down considering Prakash Raj promises a lot. Still a well-garnished masala that has withstood the taste of time and public!