Masala is back in Bollywood! Oh yes!
After what seems to be far too long, here is a Hindi film with all the elements we fell for in the first place – songs, melodrama, romance, over the top fight scenes, good guys, bad guys and lots and lots of explosions.
Salman plays Chulbul Pandey, a somewhat corrupt cop, but one who loves his mother – so we know at heart he must be a good person. Chulbul’s widowed mother Naina, in an small but significant role by Dimple Kapadia, married Prajapati Pandey (Vinnod Khanna). Together they have a son who Prajapati favours over his step-son Chulbul. Our hero grows up feeling like an outsider and determines that when he is older, he will be the one with all the power and influence.
Fast forward 20 years where Chulbul is now a police officer with enough money to buy and sell his step-father many times over (that moderate corruption we mentioned), and a rather thin moustache.
Chulbul has a strained relationship with his step-father and spineless, self-centered step-brother Makkhi; Arbaaz Khan with a more robust and unruly moustache and an appalling selection of shirts. Makkhi is desperate to wed Nirmala, but her schoolmaster father cannot afford the dowry Prajapati insists on. Meanwhile Chulbul falls for the enigmatic Rajo, the daughter of a drunk. This is the debut film for Sonakshi Sinha and although she was very lovely there really wasn’t very much in her role for her to work with. But the relationships with her father and brother seemed genuine which added a fuller dimension to her storyline. She did have some very beautiful costumes too!
Along the way, Robin Hood Pandey, as he renamed himself, makes an enemy of the chest baring Chhedi Singh. Sonu Sood seems to be making a career out of playing the manically evil antihero – something he does so well – and we do not mind the shirtlessness one bit. Singh is the youth representative for Anupam Kher’s political party, and Chulbul’s policing is cutting into his supply of money from running various shady deals.
There is a wonderful item song featuring Malaika Arora Khan choreographed by Farah Khan. This let Salman ruin Sonu Sood’s night while indulging in some excellent uncle dancing and Malaika did what she does best, so this was great fun to see. We applaud a film that condenses political confrontations into a dance.
Various plots are hatched and foiled, loved ones die, marriages are arranged and un-arranged, peoples’ values are put to the test. Finally it culminates in a chance to blow absolutely everything up, bare some more chests and let Salman save the day.
This is Salman’s film. Perhaps it is the presence of Arbaaz as producer, but Abinav Kashyap really seems to have drawn every last bit of charisma from Salman and used him to best advantage. The action sequences choreographed by S. Vijayan are brilliantly filmed, and manage to give a nod to many great action sequences from recent Hollywood and South Indian blockbusters. Despite having Helen in the family, Salman has never been the greatest dancer. The choreography by Raju Khan and Shabina Khan has cleverly allowed Salman to showcase what he does do well, and the colour and movement of the backing dancers disguises the fact that he really isn’t the most nimble person on the floor.
The film does lose momentum after the interval, but soon picks up the pace and the finale has enough action to appease our South Indian accustomed filmi taste.
This is a great entertainer of a film. We give it 4 and 1/2 stars! It gets extra points just because we have been suffering Bollywood Masala Deprivation Syndrome and this may be the cure!