Cast: Salman Khan essentially
Director: Arbaaz Khan
Rating: Three stars
Hello again. Bollywood’s Rajnikanth is back to defy the law of gravity, ooze levity and talk with brevity. So he zooms in mid-air to bash up goons galore, takes up cudgels against an-about-to-be re-elected politician, and speaks in the calculated sentences of a mathematician. And truth be told there’s no point in resisting him.
Because Dabangg 2 aka Cop Chulbul Pandey aka Robin Hood, directed by Arbaaz Khan, is unpretentious if nothing else.
Indeed, the sequel packs in every ingredient which clicked in the original, be it the cop asking a ghastly goon to call up his mother before beating him up black and blue. How thoughtful is that!
To repeat the formula, he threatens to fire bullets into every orifice of the opponent, not to forget a zippy trip abroad merely for that woo-the-heroine song. And you can definitely count upon item numbers, courtesy Malaika Arora-Khan and Kareena Kapoor.
Only here, the lyric extolls the virtues of an adhesive brand instead of Munni badnaam hui’s favourite balm ointment. Expect the expected, and you won’t be disappointed.
The audience certainly wasn’t at the opening morning screening at a Mumbai multiplex, clapping wildly at every Chulbulian move -- including the dark glasses perched on the back-collar or twisting a belt in sync with pelvis thrusts. Again, the plan is to present Salman Khan as a smalltown superhero who radiates family values.
In the process, super cop pulls the legs, good-naturedly, of his upright step-father (Vinod Khanna in an extended role) and his somewhat dimwitted step-brother (Arbaaz Khan in a briefer one, presumably because he was behind the camera).
But don’t look for Mummy Pandey. Since she was brutally murdered in the first part, she’s reduced to a spooky black-and-white portrait on the wall. A first for Dimple Kapadia. Sob.
Ergo, once you’ve psyched yourself into going with the flow, the result’s quite engaging and entertaining. The first-half moves at Concorde speed especially, following Chulbul (you-know-who) on his transfer to Kanpur, where he expects to fry bigger fish.
That he does rightaway, by rescuing a cement dealer’s kidnapped child, and usurping the ransom money. A small part of the lakhs he donates to the police association fund, the major chunk siphoned off to his personal savings.
His moral values can be questioned, but well…it’s one of those jaane bhi do corruption things. Kejriwal and Co. wouldn’t be amused.
More: Chulbul is no different from a ruthless encounter specialist either. No problem! A woman journalist quizzes him about killing people indiscriminately, he looks at her with a deep gaze. And she swoons, all reservations erased. That’s the part of the film’s trump card, actually.
Salman Khan, as Chulbul, can do no wrong even if he does. Even his junior acolytes, who roll their eyes in disbelief when he takes the law into his own hands, worship him.
After all, he charms them by chewing raw tamarind with them while on duty. Imagine he’s so friendly that he hangs out with his underlings.
And for once, Chulbul’s superior officer doesn’t make life difficult either. On the contrary, Kanpur’s chief ‘daroga’ offers Chulbul pizzas, rabdi, and what-eat-you. In the event, nabbing crooks and taking on the burly politician (Prakash Raj) are as easy for him as breathing. There’s no tension at all. Perhaps, the first-half moves like a breeze because we don’t see the cop under major stress at all.
Post-intermission, things get heavy-duty though. The burly politician’s brother (Deepak Dobriyal) is killed by our cute cop right before the public eye.
Next: Mrs Chulbuli (Sonakshi Sinha) suffers from miscarriage.
And so before things become gloomy, the screenplay jumps-cut to the climax. Time for Salman Khan to whip off his slim-fit shirt, naturally, and display his legendary muscles and triceps.
If that didn’t happen, like the rest of the screaming, clapping, whistling audience, you would have been disappointed. It would have been like X’mas without plum cake.
So there, you are. All the technical departments: cinematography, editing and sound, are serviceable. Arbaaz Khan does disclose a flair for sturdy direction in the emotionally-underscored family-centric interludes. The elaborate action scenes which take precedence, are in the style of the smash-‘em, dizzyingly edited Tamil actioners. The dialogue is not in the quotable category of Dabangg. Gratifyingly, male chauvinism is avoided, what with Cop Chulbul telling his servile wife, “You don’t have to obey every instruction of mine.” Wah, say it again!
Of the cast, Deepak Dobriyal, as the slain brother, strives to be menacing. Alas, in vain. The LOL line of dialogue comes when he brags about his clout and power, and one of his own henchmen asks, “Don’t you think he’s overstimating himself!”
Sonakshi Sinha’s role is awfully sketchy. Besides simpering and smiling, she does precious little. Naturally, it’s Salman Khan’s show all the way, and once again he strikes a charismatic screen presence. He’s even assigned a vulnerable, crying scene which he performs awkardly. Apart from that, the 46-year-old actor going on 26, reconfirms that he’s in top form. Cool and casual, he replays Chulbul, thoroughly tongue-in-chic.
Unsolicited suggestion:Switch off from the real world, and enjoy.