In terms of story, Dilip Shukla and Abhinav Kashyap offer no novelty as films with similar plot lines – family drama, mother’s death, love story between a police officer and a simple girl, enmity between local politician and police officer, fight to finish etc. – have been seen in the past. But the presentation is so fresh, the humour is so new, the characterisation of the main protagonist is so endearing, the performance of Salman Khan is so wonderful, the music is so outstanding, and the action is so brilliantly composed that the lack of novelty hardly becomes a sore point.
The screenplay also may not be the most ideal screenplay or one which offers novelty but it is, at least, clear and conveys everything in a straight and simple manner. Only thing, since it is the story of one police officer, there is no bigger or larger issue, something which could’ve been incorporated by the writers. However, the writers have taken care to add a touch of sentiments and a bit of romance in the action fare – and what’s more, the emotions and the romance work like magic.
His baby stays true to the director’s claim. An out-and-out Salman Khan entertainer, Dabangg (which means fearless) give you a lot of reasons to love Khan even more.
We see Khan as his old self, packaged in a new police ki vardi as Inspector Chulbul ‘Robinhood’ Pandey in a certain Laalgunj gaav of Uttar Pradesh. Sure, many would like to adopt that middle name.
Lovably corrupt and enticingly lean, Chulbul makes sure he gets the share of the booty in every big (or small) dacoity in the village banks. His love for mother (Kapadia, typical Bollywood maa) and hatred for stepfather Prajapati Pandey (Khanna) on one side is balanced with his love-hate relationship with stepbrother Makhi (Arbaaz Khan) on the other.
Family dramas are not new to Bollywood. But Dabangg has an edge because of the smart packaging of action, love, drama and a tragic climax. Small-town politician-villain Chhedi Singh (Sood) has personal scores to settle with Chulbul. Using his dysfunctional family ties as pawns, Chhedi will stop at nothing to win an election and settle his rivalry with Chulbul.
Apna Chulbul cracks PJs, falls in love, propositions village belle Rajjo (Sinha), and gets married in style. Salman Khan’s on-screen larger-than-life persona is fully exploited by Kashyap.
Arbaaz Khan as the mandbuddhi (slow-witted) stepbrother puts on a good show playing a character with slightly grey overtones. Sinha risked a deglamorised launch and went for the sari-clad Rajjo, a role she fits to the T and in which she doesn’t fail to impress you. She looks comfortable being paired with a hero who is at least two decades older. The star kid (she is Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter) will, however, need some more challenging roles to prove her worth.
Kapadia as the Pandey mother reminds you of the mothers in Hindi cinema of yore, self-sacrificing, torn between relationships, slightly over-the-top, likeable nevertheless. As for Sood, you feel like beating him up for giving hero Chulbul such a hard time.
The casting for each peripheral (importance to the plot notwithstanding) character in Dabangg is perfect, be it Mahesh Manjrekar as Rajjo’s alcoholic father, Om Puri as the hand-in-glove crooked cop, Anupam Kher as the power-crazy politician, or Mahie Gill as family-oriented Nirmala, Arbaaz Khan’s lover.
Fans and critics can see Salman Khan do what he does best, positively “bhayanak” dialoguebaazi, Rajini-style action, and trademark dance steps with funny hand movements, topping it all with a shirtless fight sequence. The dialogues of Dabangg are memorable; don’t be surprised if you rattle some off long after you have left the cinema hall.
Mahesh Limaye’s cinematography captures the feel of rustic Uttar Pradesh well and lends authenticity to the muddy politics, fight sequences, and overall lawlessness of the land. The very many songs are effectively, in Chulbul’s words, thusaoed in the plot, without once making the audience cringe. From theme song Hun Hun Dabangg to the romantic Tere Mast Mast Do Nain and the drunks’ anthem Humka Peeni Hain, every song has recall value. Not to mention Munni Badnaam Hui with Arbaaz Khan’s wife in real life Malaika Arora Khan sizzling to the beats of composer Lalit Pandit.
Clean humour, fabulous action sequences, innocent love stories, and superb dialogues typify Dabangg. Watch it at a single screen to enjoy the hooting, cheering, clapping and even the occasional standing ovation for the dabangg Sallu Bhai. And yes, don’t forget to leave your brains at the door.