Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Tiger heads for the cow belt

(Published in The Friday Times, on January 5, 2013, retrieved from http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20130104&page=20)



Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Raj, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod Khanna, and others
Director: Arbaaz Khan
Rating: 1 star
Having made the entire subcontinent sink its head into its hands with his ISI-RAW romance Ek Tha Tiger, Salman Khan is back, this time in a uniform he sports mainly for the song sequences. Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) also wears sunglasses, whose chief function appears to be protecting his eyes from the glare of his fluorescent shirts. However, they’re also used in a bizarre mating-ritual-of-sorts, where his broad-backed wife Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha) manoeuvres them from the string that holds her choli together, to the back of his collar.
Look, we all know the main motive of any Salman Khan movie is to find a new way for him to remove his shirt. Dabangg 2 is wholly successful on that count. The only original aspect of the film is the manner in which the black shirt he reserves for serious business is peeled off, but then, that’s the only innovation that matters.
Pandey doesn’t seem to have been promoted since we last met him, but he does appear to have moved to a bigger village, one with a school. He does most of his business in a jeep, which he lifts off the ground – with one hand – when he’s angry. You’d think a tractor would be more effective in crashing through buildings, but the jeep has the advantage of supplying him with shards of computer-generated glass to kick at, as he spins through the air.
We find out later that he’s opted to get transferred to Kanpur, because he wants a real challenge. So, it makes perfect sense that the antagonist in the film is Bachcha Bhaiyya (Prakash Raj), a don from Southern India who’s decided to give Mumbai’s underworld a miss, and rear his flock in the cow belt. Bachcha has a little brother called ‘Chunni’, whose unfortunate name makes him the target of insults to his masculinity, and another little brother called ‘Genda’. Don’t ask.
The first fight sequence of the film doesn’t feature the brothers, though. It’s a random build-up, punctuated by Chulbul’s policechamchas saying nice things about him, as they drink tea on duty. Though he’s known as ‘Robin Hood Pandey’, most of the soundtrack is flicked off the Zorro series. Forgivable, methinks.
Oh, the music. So, poor Rahat Fateh Ali Khan sings his heart out in Dagabaaz Re, but so insipid is the movie that it’s accommodated in a sequence where Chulbul’s pacifying Rajjo after failing to show up for the husbandly duty of helping her pick a sari. But what do you expect from a film that features a song with lyrics like, “My darling and I were flying in a plane/ The plane catch a fire, and we fall in the drain”?
Having done an item number with his sister-in-law Malaika Arora Khan in the first edition, Salman now shakes a leg with the newly-crowned Begum of Pataudi, Kareena Kapoor. Producer Arbaaz Khan, who got sued for using  the brand name “Zandu Balm” in Munni Badnaam Hui, has apparently signed a deal with adhesive brand Fevicol for using the word in Fevicol Se.
Some of the film’s 60-odd-crore rupee budget has been supplied by other brands that seem to ply their trade only in Uttar Pradesh. Chulbul gifts his foster father (Vinod Khanna) a tacky mobile phone, whose top feature is that one can listen to music on it. The in-film branding also accommodates a money-transfer portal I’ve never heard of. On the plus side, it gives a girl who will be dragged away from her wedding pandal her one happy line.
As for the intended hilarity in the film, the less said the better. We can point and laugh at one man because he’s fat, and has pizza for lunch. We can point and laugh at another because he’s a dwarf, and a coward. We can point and laugh at yet another because he’s learning English, and comes up with lines like, “Country on deathbed, all kidney fail”. We can point and laugh at a widower who thinks a younger woman’s hitting on him. And if none of that amuses us, we can laugh when Pitaji says to Chulbul, “Teri ma ki...*pause*...tasveer kahan hai?”
The only thing I find funnier than Salman’s belief that he can dance is his confidence that he can act. In this film, he tries to cry several times. And he woos his wife by teaching her feminism – who says the cow belt’s ‘Bhaiyyas’ can’t be liberals, eh? Aside from this,Dabangg 2 consists almost entirely of slow-motion and fast-action sequences.
While Dabangg had at least a line or two we could laugh at, Dabangg 2 ensures our palms will be glued to our faces, Fevicol se.

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