Coasting on Chulbul
Direction: Arbaaz Khan
Actors: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Kareena Kapoor
Rating: ** 1/2
Chulbul Pandey is arguably the most sparkling character Bollywood has created since the good-hearted Mumbai goon Munna Bhai. This crooked, small-town cop, who combines irreverence with superhuman strength, is essentially a superhero without a cape.
He woos the girl, beats the bad guys to pulp without breaking a sweat and still finds the time to make a deliciously cheap joke about shooting so many holes into an opponent that he won't be able to figure out which end to breathe from and which end to fart from.
In short, Pandey, played gleefully by a wickedly charming Salman Khan, is pretty much irresistible. Debutant director Arbaaz Khan and writer Dilip Shukla know that. Dabangg 2 coasts on the formidable shoulders of Chulbul Pandey and our affection for the original installment.
The opening titles of Dabangg 2 play out over highlights from Dabangg, and that sets the tone for the film. Arbaaz and Shukla judiciously stick to the template created by director Abhinav Kashyap and Shukla in the first film.
For Salman Khan fans, it's manna from heaven. He cracks a joke, kills a few goons, dances with original item girl Munni (Malaika Arora Khan) and a new item girl (Kareena Kapoor), takes his shirt off to display his age-defying, perfectly chiselled body, and then cracks another joke. Those who like a coherent narrative and dramatic arc, though, won't enjoy the ride so much.
The lazy story puts Chulbul in a bigger town - Kanpur - and pits him against a new villain, Baccha Bhaiyya, played by Prakash Raj in full bulging-eyes mode. This tired plot is merely a hanger, though, for the familiar notes of high-speed fights, dialogue-baazi and a hot song titled 'Fevicol' in place of the blockbuster 'Munni badnam hui'.
None of it matches the zing of the original. There wasn't one line that stayed with me after the film.
But what remains consistent is the sheer fun of watching Robin Hood Pandey solve the many problems of the world by breaking necks. I think complicated times call for uncomplicated heroes and Chulbul Pandey fits the bill perfectly.
My review of Dabangg ended with a plea for a better story for Chulbul. Like so much else in Dabangg 2, that too remains the same. Can someone please write a terrific plot for this terrific character?