Dabangg 3 review: Salman Khan ticks feminism off his list, can we hope to end unchecked police brutality in next?
Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Saiee Manjrekar
Can you imagine the irony of it all? As the focus is on protests and the police’s reaction to it across the country, we get a movie eulogising a fictional cop who beats, maims and slaps criminals, his subordinates and general public at whim?
But that’s the charm of Salman Khan and the police. You are advised by well-meaning people to ‘cut them some slack’ despite their infractions.
Watch Dabangg 3 trailer here
Talking about cutting slack, Salman Khan is not ready to allow us any. The film is Dabangg 3 where Salman returns as ASP Chulbul Pandey, the affable cop with a penchant for slaps and perforated things. This time he is bringing us the tragic backstory that made Chulbul the jolly, witty, enigmatic, enthusiastic and just generally a happy person that we have paid good money to watch in two movies and over a decade.
Directed by Prabhudeva, who has swiftly turned into his go-to director whenever Salman wishes to do whatever he pleases, the film goes back into Chulbul’s past to uncover some horrible mysteries as they unexpectedly trickle into his present. We are introduced to Saiee Manjrekar’s Khushi, Chulbul’s sweetheart before he was won over by Sonakshi Sinha’s Rajjo and her complete indifference to getting slapped. Khushi is pretty as a lamb, sweet as a lamb and even dispensable as a lamb. When the time is right, when the moon is in the seventh house and the writer’s room demands a worthy reason for making a third instalment in an already overcrowded franchise, she will join a long list of WAGs who will be sacrificed on the altar of cliched film plots, so the hero could have a painful backstory and a shallow semblance of depth.
Ah, but do not be fooled by this little detail, or the generic item number, or the multiple other things that could still give a woke person palpitations to last days, because Dabangg has taken a turn towards feminism. Chulbul is no longer threatening to smack women across their faces but saving them from sex trafficking and letting them keep their father’s name after marriage. The sweet, generous man is also revoking his right to dowries, and you won’t believe this one— putting nada in his wife’s petticoats. Chulbul is a changed man.
But don’t let all that feminism talk dissuade you from booking those tickets. Chulbul maybe a softie at heart but he is still making Swiss cheese of criminals and his muscles get a heavy workout this time around too. He finds an opponent in the creepy and disgustingly 90’s villain, Bali, played by Kiccha Sudeep. Consider him an alternate reading of Salman’s Tere Naam, except this time Radhe’s love goes unrequited and he spends all that weird sexual energy planting rose gardens over the dead bodies of women who rejected him. A strong case is made about the evil of Bali. He stares down women’s cleavage, kills them when they can’t ‘love’ him back and makes open declarations of raping them. And the nastiness goes flying off the charts every time that special villainous theme arrives before him. Prabhudeva was one catchphrase away from making him the quintessential villain from second tier Bollywood.
With such exceptionally written characters (please catch on the sarcasm if you haven’t already) it’s a crime to not have a plot equally enthralling. Thank god, we have the revered writer of Race 3 to the rescue, Salman Khan himself. Why the tragic scenes were good for some eye-rolling exercises, the comedy almost made me throw up a little in my mouth. There are jokes about holding a man’s ‘gulaab jamun’, witnessing another man’s bowel movements, wiping butts, giving wedgies to grown men and to top it all off, Dolly Bindra will make bedroom eyes at you for way longer than necessary. And to be honest, even a second of it is ‘way longer than necessary’.
The action scenes are cut with the frantic energy of a toddler on sugar high. The punches land with the loudness of bulldozers, and I swear they made it sound like iron rods clanking this one time a goon hit Salman. And if through all this medley of construction work OST you could still manage to reach the climax, prepare your eyes for colour correction that would leave George Miller shaking in his pants. It’s Mad Max: Dadar Road and they have the aesthetic to match. It’s quite impressive to be honest, achieving this level of pomp and show with such little substance for inspiration.
Dabangg 3 is as unnecessary as a remake of an item song, a romantic angle between another woman 30 years younger than you, and brutality when dealing with protestors, criminals or general public.
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