I watched Dabangg 2 in the heart of Manhattan at a multiplex in Times Square, and did not expect the audience response I witnessed… people whistled, clapped and shouted Salman Khan’s name as the opening credits rolled with visuals from the first film (Dabangg, 2010). That’s the amazing star-power of the film’s lead actor who has the same effect on the desi audience as Edward Cullen on teenage (and slightly older) girls. The cheering returned with the first fight sequence, with the song where Malaika Arora Khan aka ‘Munni’ appears and then later with Kareena Kapoor’s ‘Favicol’ (sic) item song. It seems everyone enjoyed the film or the whole ritual of watching a Salman flick and to be honest, I did too, but films like these are like doing a shot of tequila… you do it because everyone in the party is doing one and then you forget about it. I know, there’s little sense in that comparison but there’s little sense in cinema like the Dabangg franchise.
Dabangg 2 is nothing but an average copy of the much smarter first film. Right after the first fight sequence you know the director, Arbaaz Khan along with the writer, Dilip Shukla, are lazy filmmakers. There is nothing in the film that you haven’t seen before. Abhinav Kashyap, the director of the first film presented it as a cheesy action-comedy-romance that also surprised you at many levels. In this one, there are no clever lines (remember, “thappad se darr nahi lagta saheb, pyaar se lagta hai”) and even the action pales in comparison. It is Salman porn at best and the filmmakers are simply cashing in on that. I don’t have anything to say about the performances by Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod Khanna, Prakash Raj and Deepak Dobriyal, as other characters really don’t matter in this film.
While I enjoyed the experience of watching this film, I wonder if I will ever look back at it as a film-buff. It fits into the convenient category created by Bollywood called, “mindless cinema” and the blame is on the audience. Yes, we may be enjoying this stuff today but we do deserve something better from our filmmakers who have become incredibly lazy and only care about the box office. Movies like Dabangg 2 are like Bollywood’s American Pie and Final Destination series and let’s not let them define what Indian cinema is all about. Come on Bollywood filmmakers, we’ll tolerate and many times enjoy these mindless flicks, but bring out the stuff that makes us think, makes us cry and makes us fall in love again with your art.
To be honest, I did not expect much from Ek Tha Tiger. Of course, it was in my must watch list like most Bollywood movies but I was skeptical about a Salman Khan film directed by Kabir Khan. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt the director’s ability to make a nice film; his Kabul Express was quite good and New York was also nice. However, I had my reservations about him combining the mindless fun of a Salman blockbuster with that of a thriller. Could he create something ridiculous yet fun like Wanted that fans of Salman Bhai love? Could he stay true to the romantic-thriller genre and avoid the silliness of a regular Salman blockbuster? I was worried that the filmmaker will try to combine both and fail miserably.
Fortunately, I was proved wrong and Ek Tha Tiger managed to reach the level of a decent entertainer. The plot is less ridiculous than usual Bhai films, but there are big tiger sized loopholes (story by Aditya Chopra; screenplay by Kabir Khan & Neelesh Misra). One has to keep shunning out logic and common sense throughout the film but the director has built in enough applause worthy Bhai moments to make up for that. There are enough thrills like the elaborate opening fight sequence shot in Iraq where Tiger (Salman) sledges down the stairs in a marketplace while shooting at the enemies; or when he stops a tram from crashing, using his blazer alone! Coming back to the story, the first half is quite predictable but the chemistry between Salman and Katrina make it watchable. The real fun starts post interval where our desiJames Bond, RAW agent, Tiger decides to fight for his love instead of his nation.
Katrina Kaif as Zoya is quite good in the film and you can’t help but applaud at her stunts and parkour skills (of course, there was a body double but that’s not the point). There are more exaggerated stunts that make you jump in your seat – no they’re not the most sophisticated ones but most ridiculously fun, like the usual Salman stuff. The film is shot across the world at picturesque and exotic locations like Ireland, Cuba, Thailand and Turkey. Aseem Mishra does justice to all these locations and the good looking lead pair with his cinematography. However, I fail to understand why so many slow motion sequences were there including milk being poured in a vessel!
The biggest let down in the film is its ending. The film almost ends abruptly while you’re having loads of fun and expect it to continue for fifteen more minutes. But I guess there was nothing more left to say or show so the director decided to just wrap up after a masaledaar sequence. The final montage of Salman and Katrina at popular places around the world is hilarious and could have been avoided. Music by Sohail Sen is disappointing and there is not one song I can say I liked; the one popular number, Mashallah is also done by guest composers – Sajid-Wajid. Background score by Julius Packiam is interesting with music elements from the respective countries where the scenes are set in; and also the introduction music piece for Tiger.
Ek Tha Tiger is definitely a onetime watch and if possible go in a large group to a single screen theatre to enjoy the ceeties and the hooting.
If you are bored of logic, this is the film for you…
Bodyguard; Reliance Entertainment
By now I hope everyone knows what to expect from an action-comedy starring Salman Khan… if you still look for a decent story or even logic in the film then you are really slow and should get yourself checked (seriously, a dog learns faster than you!) Also, if you are incapable of enjoying such a film without using a shred of your brain then I recommend watching it after a terrible work week / day or under the influence of alcohol. Now coming to the point; this post is supposed to be a review of Salman’s latest blockbuster, Bodyguard and I am tempted to copy-paste my review of Ready. However, in order to sustain the small readership of my blog, I will try (not promising) to write something different unlike the Salman movie template that filmmakers are using so successfully these days.
First things first, I enjoyed Bodyguard. I know I just lost 90 points on the film snob scale but yes I am guilty of helping the film earn over a billion rupees in just 4 days. Before booking the tickets I knew that the film will be a senseless collation of action scenes and crude jokes. That clear setting of expectations helped me not only sit through the film but laugh at it. Management schools and our so called spiritual gurus can use his films and apply these learnings to business and life. More about that later and back to the film for now… Since I have talked about the template to make a hit Salman film; let me share the same with Bodyguard in focus. Please note it is an exclusive reveal for the readers of this blog…
Choose a South Indian hit film to remake with Khanon Mein Khan, Salman Khan. If you use the same writer-director then you don’t have to pay extra royalties; economies of scale you see. Bodyguard is written and directed by Siddique who has made the film in three other languages (Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu).
Assign a cute name for Salman’s character – Radhe in Wanted, Chulbul Pandey in Dabangg and Lovely Singh in Bodyguard.
Be very careful to ensure any amount of authenticity or realistic elements should not creep into the film. Keep it as unrealistic and unbelievable as possible. Action sequences that seem impossible and even ridiculous must be incorporated. Think of stuff like a big wooden crate full of tiny thermocol balls falling on Salman and shattering into pieces. Bodyguard manages to do that very well including a nightclub dhishoom-dhishoom scene where he kills many people without the police getting to know anything.
Be innovative in the ways to showcase Salman’s body… usual wind is passé; think of bulging muscles leading to the shirt tearing itself like Dabangg. In Bodyguard, they use a powerful jet of water that throws his shirt away from his body.
Never compromise on technology as that’s the future… A killer remote controlled helicopter toy that has razor sharp rotor blades and can cut everything – potted plants, glass doors or the heroine’s delicate neck; Bodyguard nails this part. This is better than Ironman!
At least one character who would get beaten up by Salman, by the mob and anyone who appears in the film. This character is designed to endure any sort of humiliation and physical abuse like burning his bum with a hot iron. There is one in Bodyguard too, named Tsunami Singh (Rajat Rawail).
A huge list of baddies whom Salman can beat up and break their bones like twigs. They are supposed to be after his life or the heroine’s life without, please note this is important, without any solid reason.
Songs that have ridiculous lyrics but are catchy; these can be placed in the film at regular intervals and one need not worry about their connection with the story. Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam have done a good job in Bodyguard and you can’t help but enjoy the title track and the Desi Beat song. However, they are not as iconic as Salman’s Dabangg and Ready numbers.
Give a killer line to Salman that all the auto-rickshaw wallahs and cabbies can use and paint on their vehicles. Bodyguard does not disappoint on this front and has given us this gem: “Mujh par ek ehsaan karna, ki mujh par koi ehsaan na karna” (please do me a favour by not doing any favour for me).
The heroine – now this is where you can bring variety and there is no fixed description in the template except the low IQ clause for the character. You can either hire an A-lister like Kareena or a newbie like Sonakshi or even a not so successful actress like Ayesha Takia. This completely depends on the filmmaker’s budget. However, I must admit that Kareena looks good in Bodyguard.
The other things that are not very important are good editing and being politically correct in your writing as you can pass off anything under the garb of humour.
This is a perfect template of making an action-comedy blockbuster but ONLY with Salman Khan in the lead. 80% of the film’s success depends on his sheer presence there. His loyal fans ensure that the weekend collections do not disappoint. Do not try this recipe with Viveik Oberoi or any other actor.
Do watch Bodyguard if you are a Salman fan or are simply tired of logic in your life.
What do you do when you realise after the first few scenes only that the much anticipated film (for which you booked your tickets in advance) is really bad?
Option 1: Sulk and feel bad for the wasted money and time (in which you could have done some useful research on Facebook or bathed your Pomeranian)
Option 2: Just give in and try to laugh at the audacity of the filmmaker who thinks the audience is stupid (well, in reality the audience is stupid when Salman Khan is involved these days)
I watched ‘Ready’ with a dear friend and we decided to choose option 2 as that had helped us survive the disaster called, ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’. R (my friend) thoroughly enjoyed the film as she seems to be in love with Salman and the two popular songs; ‘Character Dheela…’ and ‘Dhinka Chika…’ were enough to keep her in a cheerful mood. These were actually the best things about this Anees Bazmee directed flick (if you can call it direction).
‘Ready’ is a remake of a Telugu film of the same name, which was also remade in Tamil and Kannada. What amazes me is the weak script (Gopimohan) that did not deter four directors from making films on it. But as long as they rake in the moolah, film-makers will continue to unleash such travesties on us. And we, the audience are to be blamed for supporting films like this… yeah, yeah I know it has Salman Khan and that’s why even I went to watch it. If you still plan to watch the film (Sallu fan, right?) then here are some tips to survive it and things you can make fun of:
Go with friends who are not cine-snobs… avoid those who look down on Bollywood, those who seek intellectual entertainment and those who do not like Salman. Gather a gang of friends who are willing to leave their brains out and will not blame you for wasting your time.
Go with sub-zero expectations… ‘Ready’ is not ‘Wanted’ or ‘Dabangg’… does not even come closer; it is however a notch above ‘Tees Maar Khan’.
Respect the makers’ callous attitude… lip sync and the lines do not match in many sequences; the film’s location is not clear as Sri Lanka, Thailand and India are all same-to-same.
Admire the way Asin T (I am not going to bother with searching and copy-pasting her second name) aspires to become Sridevi of this decade. Sadly, she doesn’t have the comic timing or the charm of the 80s’ ruling diva.
Appreciate the value of friendship in Bollywood… a host of Bolly stars make guest appearance in the film, including Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Arbaaz Khan, Zarine Khan,Kangana Ranaut and Chunky Pandey (ok, ok, not all are stars).
Have a discussion on Zarine Khan’s weight and thunder thighs after the ‘Character Dheela…’ song.
Practice your South Indian dance moves on the ‘Dhinka Chika…’ number while seated.
Appreciate the innovative use of colours – one gang of goons wear all whites in the film and the other gang wears all blacks. Their cars match the colour themes and move in V-shaped formations (attention to detail).
Understand the deep romantic meaning of the film’s dialogues such as, “Main Kutta Hoon… Tum Kutiya Ho… Tum Aayi Toh, Sach Kehta Hoon… Ke Aaya Mausam, Bhonkne Ka…” (I am a dog, you’re a bitch… since you’ve come; I can say honestly that it seems like the weather to bark). Yes, that’s what Salman says to Asin, homage to his original Prem character from ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. Please do not try this with your girlfriend, she may not appreciate being called a bitch like the way Asin does and you’re no Salman.
To sum up the post, I can only say that ‘Ready’ is so bad that you can end up enjoying it… watch it at your own risk.
My rating:* *Two stars on five (1 for Salman, half each for the two fun songs)