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- Published 4.06.11
Rajinikanth need not worry. Not just yet. If there is anyone who is ready to take on the larger-than-life mantle of the superstar superhero — reportedly contemplating early retirement — then it has to be Salman Khan. Felling half-a-dozen goons with a single twitch of a finger or charming his leading ladies with a single twitch of an eyebrow, Salman is closest to perfecting the Rajini art of over-the-top acting (or non-acting).
Straight-faced humour, a nonchalant take-me-or-leave-me attitude and an uninhibited screen presence define the Salman Khan of Ready. In one scene, he even rips off a vintage Rajini joke: “Aisa gaayab kar doonga ki google.com bhi dhoond nahin paayega!” (The original, for the uninitiated, was “I will beat you so hard that even Google will not be able to find you!” from the 60-year-old south superstar’s last release Endhiran.)
After Wanted and Dabangg, Salman Khan represents a Rajini brand of cinema — in your face and laugh out loud. If the audience waits for Rajini’s stylish flick of the cigarette, then the loudest catcalls here are reserved for Salman’s behind-the-collar flick of his RayBans. If Rajini can defeat his screen enemies with the power of his brain, Salman does so with the power of his brawn.
Like Wanted and Dabangg, almost every scene in Ready is a showcase for Salman Khan, the Superstar. Ripping off his shirt to reveal his rippling six-pack, jumping off buildings in one gravity-defying stunt after another, spouting smart-liners... Ready is the Salman Khan Show.
Five minutes into the film, he first vrooms on screen with the no-holds-barred Character dheela number and gives you a paisa vasool ride for the next 160 minutes as the man of action, comedy and romance.
But if Salman does justice to Ready, Ready falls far short of its leading man. For an audience which walks in expecting an all-action follow-up to Wanted and Dabangg, there will be ripples of disappointment. With a first half so slow that you almost will it to move a little faster to a second half where director Anees Bazmee goes back to the storyboards of his previous hits to unleash mistaken identities, dime-a-dozen characters and a free-for-all climax.
And for all of you who have endured No Problem and Thank You — Bazmee’s last two box-office duds — you will know what we mean by brain-dead humour. Though thankfully, Ready, courtesy Salman, stops short of completely going the No Problem and Thank You way.
A logical script and credible characterisation may have rarely been the strength of a Salman Khan film, but Ready hardly has a script to call its own in the first place. A bit of Welcome, a dash of Singh is Kinng and a dose of No Entry — all Bazmee blockbusters — constitute the skeletal script that Ready banks on.
Salman plays Prem Kapoor, the scion of a wealthy Hum Saath Saath Hain family living in Thailand (which for some strange reason, is passed off time and again as India. Oh yes, it’s a Bazmee film!). A do-gooder who matchmakes in his spare time, but does little else, Prem meets his match in Sanjana (Asin), a runaway bride, desperate to break free from the shackles of her two uncles, both underworld dons who are sworn enemies. The lovers devise a plan to make the warring uncles kiss-and-make up with Prem changing his identity to gain entry into the household. A comedy of errors and terrors later, the film inches towards an all’s-well-that-ends-well denouement.
Unlike Wanted and Dabangg which were charmingly cheesy, Ready is often crass. Sexual innuendos abound, toilet jokes are a given and gags involving farts and burps keep bursting on the scene. Though Salman and Asin make a picture-perfect pair and the romance is fresh, the dialogues are a put off. Like when Prem introduces his ladylove with: “Main kutta hoon, yeh kutiya hai”. Grrrr!
The inspirations and tributes are one too many. From Salman’s own Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (he breaks into the title track from the Karan Johar debut to woo Asin) to Aamir Khan’s Ghajini to the Sholay-Mughal-e-Azam-Awara rehash in Character dheela. But then Character dheela is the highpoint of the film, a playful Salman and a sexy Zarine Khan giving you back your money’s worth. There is also the requisite nod to Wanted and Dabangg in the shirt rip and the sunglass flick, but Ready, despite Salman, is not a patch on his last two blockbusters.
Complementing Salman is Asin, whose strong-willed and straightforward Sanjana is an extension of Ghajini’s Kalpana. Watch out for the two in the infectious Dhinka chika track. The rest of the cast is ho-hum, although Mahesh Manjrekar — as Salman’s prone-to-memory-lapses father — is a fun act. The villains are all churned out in assembly-line fashion — alternately menacing and comical — with thick gold chains, silk suits and flowerpot hairdos defining their look.
The poor production values are a shocker in the slick Bollywood of our times. Despite its Rs 30 crore-plus budget, Ready has one too many scenes superimposed on a static background!
Despite all its shortcomings, Salman Khan ensures that Ready makes for a timepass one-time watch. If the more than half full audi at the first day second show at Fame South City was any indication, the Bolly movie buff — starved of a plex visit in months — will ensure that the Salman fest opens big and, in all likelihood, stays big.
All thanks to Salman ‘Rajini’ Khan.
• Ready is a remake of Ready, a 2008 Telugu blockbuster starring Ram and Genelia D’ Souza. The film has been remade in Kannada as Raam with Puneeth Rajkumar and Priyamani in the lead and in Tamil as Uthamaputhiran with Dhanush and Genelia.
• Though Pritam is credited as the film’s music director, Devi Sri Prasad — the composer of the Telugu Ready — stepped in to tweak the original Ringa ringa track. The result? The blockbuster Dhinka chika!
• Character dheela — Pritam’s smash hit featuring Salman with Veer heroine Zarine Khan — is a tribute to Dharmendra and Hema Malini in Sholay (see picture), Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Awara and Dilip Kumar and Madhubala in Mughal-e-Azam. Salman goes through five costume changes. Bollywood music man Anu Malik has threatened to sue the Ready makers alleging that Character dheela is a copy of his number Mohabaat naam hai from the 2001 Akshay Kumar-Bobby Deol hit Ajnabee.
• Ready is the 13th film in which Salman is called Prem. Lucky 13?
• Ready has been shot in Colombo and Bentota in Sri Lanka and Bangkok.
• It was while shooting in Bangkok that Salman requested the team of Rascals — Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn and Kangana Ranaut — who were also shooting there, to put in special appearances. The Rascals cast canned a day’s shoot for Ready.
• Ready has helped thaw the Salman-Shah Rukh Khan icy cold vibes. While SRK’s kids Aryan and Suhana are reportedly keen on watching the film, Salman reached out to Shah Rukh at a promotional for Ready, saying: “I wish Shah Rukh all the best for Ra.One (his upcoming superhero film) and hope it’s a hit.”