No logic? Not much of a plotline? No problem! Salman Khan is to India what Bond is to Britain, and so much more.
Even for a Brit, only recently initiated into the dizzying, multicoloured world of Bollywood, the anticipation surrounding the release of Khan’s new movie was palpable. Kick posters adorned every available surface of the city, promising the Return of the King this Id.
The die-hard fans queuing outside INOX South City for the Friday morning showing chattered apprehensively. When Salman did arrive, minutes into the film, he made damned sure we knew it.
Roaring into shot on an insane mashup of quadbike and vintage BMW Beetle, with gangster hydraulics that would make Jay Z green with envy, he barely had to say a word — just fix the audience with a hard stare from behind ice-cool metallic sunglasses. As one tweet put it: “He came, he did nothing, he still conquered”.
Cheers broke out across the cinema, and it became increasingly clear that going to a Salman flick wasn’t going to be so much watching a film as being assaulted by the next hectic episode of ‘The Salman Khan Experience’. Like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but with better hair.
Kick is an arresting tour-de-force, featuring an exhausting array of self-referential humour — Khan briefly, illogically, changes into a pencil moustache and Ray-Ban Aviators to reprise his role in his earlier blockbuster Dabangg, for easy laughs.
He seems to have taken the maxim ‘Sun’s out Guns out’ to heart, needing no opportunity to flex his massive biceps and crack some skulls; though some fangirls were disappointed with the lack of a proper torso shot — the staple of every good Khan film — that usually has the crowd whooping.
“Watching a Salman movie requires a total suspension of disbelief — don’t expect logic”, I was warned. But I couldn’t have prepared myself for the extent to which liberties are taken with the notion of plot; even the Hindi-speakers around me couldn’t quite believe what they were watching, as Salman shimmied from a moral lesson on eve-teasing in a Delhi restaurant to tearing up downtown Warsaw with a London bus. And then driving that bus off a bridge.
Words fail me.
Bollywood flicks of this calibre are something that you have to buy into body and soul — but even the snobbiest critic couldn’t fail to tap a foot along to Kick’s punchy, sexy dance numbers. Even in spite of what some describe as Salman’s distinctly “dodgy” dance moves, Jacqueline Fernandez, the ice-cool Dr Shaina, supported him admirably. Her appearance in this movie was much hyped, and eyebrows were raised about Miss Sri Lanka’s acting credentials. Granted, there wasn’t much she had to do other than look prim and melancholy in a blue-rinse Polish setting, but she was far more convincing than Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley’s laughable attempt at acting in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
So as a fresh Bollywood initiate, I’m most definitely going to be returning to the cinema soon, particularly because I feel I’ve missed one essential ingredient of the Indian Cinematic Experience. While the early morning multiplex showing was mostly empty bar a handful of diehards, I’ve been promised that seeing Salman in one of Calcutta’s standalone cinemas is a completely different experience. Coins are thrown, the dialogue can barely be heard over the chatter, and every explosion, every bicep-clench, is accompanied by the gasps and whoops of an audience the likes of which Britain hasn’t seen since the 16th century mobs at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
I can’t wait.
Edward Millett, 20, is a student of ancient history at University of Cambridge. He is interning with The Telegraph