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By SALMAN KHAN IS THE REASON WHY YOU SHOULDN'T MISS DABANGG Priyanka Roy Did you like/not like Dabangg? Tell t2@abpmail.com
  • Published 11.09.10
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Dabangg is a spaghetti western with the flavour of a Rajinikanth entertainer and the feel of a Bollywood formulaic film of the 70s and 80s. Unapologetic and unflinching, it is a deliberately loud masala potboiler. The 135 minutes of Dabangg — every moment, every dialogue, every camera angl e and every scene — have just one purpose: to showcase Salman Khan like he has never been seen before.

In a stunningly shot opening sequence, he busts a gang of goons with a water hose. In the middle of a gory fight, he breaks into a jig on hearing a mobile ringtone. When the local village belle rebuffs his advances, he glibly bullies her into marrying him. The swagger, the pelvic thrusts, the attitude, the demeanour — Chulbul Pandey, the corrupt-cop-with-a-cause, who is described as “dil se bulbul aur dimaag se dabangg” is deliciously brazen and delightfully unpretentious.

The Rajini-inspired neat flick of the Ray-Bans to the back of his collar (“Taake humein aage aur peechhey dono dikhai de”), the bone-crunching yet comic action sequences, the bizarre dance moves, the romance with an attitude, you haven’t seen Salman having so much fun on screen ever before.

This is possibly the role of a lifetime for Salman and as the no-holds-barred Chulbul Pandey, he plays to the gallery to the hilt. Humour, action, romance or arrogance, Salman is in top form. He’s total paisa vasool.

If Chulbul aka Robin Hood Pandey downs criminals with his killer moves, he fells the audience with his killer one-liners, all delivered with a straight face. “Haraamzaade se yaad aaya, aapke poojya pitaji aajkal kaise hain?” he asks an unsuspecting subordinate. In another scene he threatens local villain Chhedi Singh with: “Itni chhed karenge ki confuse ho jaoge ke saans kahaan se le aur paade kahan se”. Yes, it is the kind of fart joke most of us would turn up our noses at, but coming from Chulbul, you somehow don’t mind it. [The 200-odd Salman fans at the Friday morning show at Fame South City loved it, even breaking into spontaneous applause!]

But is Dabangg as good as Salman? Unfortunately not. Bipasha Basu’s tweet: “Total 1 man show!” after the Dabangg premiere on Thursday night says it all. An illogical plot, inconsistent characterisation and a formulaic finish sum up Dabangg. Set in the UP heartland, Dabangg tells the story of stepbrothers Chulbul and Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan) who grow up from kids to adults hating each other. While Chulbul becomes a corrupt cop, Makkhi is a wastrel. When politician Chhedi (Sonu Sood) kills their mother and maims their father, the brothers join forces to bring the criminals to book.

While the first half entertains non-stop, courtesy Salman, the film meanders in the second half, until the cracker of a climax comes calling, again courtesy Salman. Relying largely on set-pieces that fail to develop into a coherent narrative and a structure where characters and songs pop in and out at random, Dabangg doesn’t make for very copybook cinema.

But thanks to Chulbul Pandey, Dabangg does make for extremely entertaining, often crazy cinema. Throwing goons into the air Matrix-style, strutting with that unmistakable swagger or even wooing ladylove Rajo (Sonakshi Sinha) in his self-important comic way, Salman makes his Chulbul larger than life. So much so that you wait for the romantic scenes as much as you look forward to the action sequences (superbly executed by Vijayan Master).

As Rajo, Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter Sonakshi is a somewhat-distant second reason to watch Dabangg. Alternately smouldering and coy, Sonakshi stands up to the Salman power in what is one of the most assured Bollywood debuts in a long time. Sonu Sood makes an impact in almost every scene he appears in, while Arbaaz lends credible support. Special mention must also be made of Vinod Khanna and Dimple Kapadia as Chulbul’s parents. Though they don’t have many scenes together, it is good ol’ Bolly nostalgia at work here.

Dabangg may have one song too many, but from the soulful Mast mast do nain to the playful Hamka peeni hai to the romantic Chori kiya re jiya and the energetic title track, music men Sajid-Wajid are in fine form. But it is Lalit Pandit’s Munni badnam hui that is the third reason to watch Dabangg. How many songs can boast of making women — even two 40-somethings — get up from their plush plex seats and break into an uninhibited jig?

A Dabangg sequel is on the cards. But for now, we wouldn’t mind going back for another peek at Chulbul Pandey, aka Salman Khan.

DABANGG decoded

What does Dabangg mean?

Fearless.

How is Dabangg pronounced?

Not as ‘bang’ as in gunshot, but as ‘bung’ as in bungalow.

Why is Salman Khan called Chulbul Pandey?

Dabangg director Abhinav Kashyap’s nephew is called Chulbul Pandey. Actor Chunkey Pandey had even demanded, tongue firmly in cheek, royalty from the Khans for using a name similar to his. Salman had even tweeted a picture of Chunkey and himself, calling it “Chunkey and Chulbul Pandey”. The picture shows the real and reel-life Pandey boys holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes!

Was Salman the first choice for Chulbul Pandey?

Sonu Sood, who plays antagonist Cheddi Singh, has recently claimed that Chulbul Pandey was first offered to him before the production reins went into the hands of the Khan brothers.

Was Sonakshi Sinha the first choice for Rajo?

Yes. Salman spotted Sonakshi dancing at actress Amrita Arora’s mehndi ceremony and recommended her name for Dabangg to brother Arbaaz, the producer of the film.

Where was Dabangg shot?

Most of the scenes were shot in the town of Wai in Maharashtra, while a song and some primary portions were shot in the United Arab Emirates.

Has Salman sported a moustache in any film before Dabangg?

He had a beard-and-moustache look in the 1992 film Suryavanshi in which he played a 10th century Indian prince. Brother Arbaaz also grew a handlebar moustache during the shoot of Dabangg.