Rajeev Masand

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Bang for your buck



Rating: 2.5

September 10, 2010

Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Sonu Sood, Vinod Khanna, Dimple Kapadia

Director: Abhinav Singh Kashyap

Who’d have thought one caterpillar moustache and a pair of Ray Ban Aviators (that he dangles from the back collar of his shirt, by the way) is all it needed to finally turn Salman Khan into a wholesome character on screen?

That character is Inspector Chulbul Pandey, the charming protagonist of director Abhinav Kashyap’s Dabangg; and for a change Salman doesn’t sleepwalk through this role. In fact it’s the most fun you seen him having on screen as far back as you can remember.

Kashyap’s haphazardly plotted film is set in a small town in Uttar Pradesh, where Chulbul Pandey is a lovable but corrupt cop who steals from the bad guys and passes on some of the cash to those in genuine need. In a thoroughly enjoyable opening set piece that defines the tone of this film, he single-handedly vanquishes a gang of armed crooks, with only a water hose at his disposal.

The action in this movie has a distinctly comic-book feel to it, reminiscent of those popular Tamil B-movies. Villains are repeatedly whacked on the head with iron rods, and glass slabs are smashed into their faces, yet it’s not the kind of visceral violence that makes you turn away your face disgustedly. Filmed mostly in slo-mo, and involving several gravity-defying gimmicks these action scenes, choreographed by Telugu cinema veteran S Vijayan, are the sort that are likely to elicit wolf-whistles.

Salman never shies away from mixing up the silly with the serious; and in fact some of the film’s most entertaining scenes are borne out of this formula. When the mobile phone of the villain’s henchman goes off in the middle of a fight, Chulbul breaks into a jig set to the musical caller tune. And in a later seemingly serious confrontation scene with a crooked local politician, he breaks into splits himself on delivering a cheap-but-hilarious threat that is too crude to repeat here.

Infusing the film’s action, dance and comic portions with a pedestrian stylishness that is entirely original and inexplicably endearing, Salman is consistently watchable despite the flawed script. Kashyap’s plot is centered on Chulbul’s animosity towards his stepfather and half-brother (played by Vinod Khanna and Arbaaz Khan), and his clash with a politician-thug (played by Sonu Sood). The domestic discord is a weak link that’s never substantially explained or justified; and this is the kind of predictable film in which the villain will exploit the hostility between the brothers to get back at Chulbul.

Blame it on the disjointed screenplay if Dabangg works not so much as a coherent, consistent film, but as a string of set-pieces. As a result it feels way longer than its two-hours-and-five-minutes running time, and the climatic action scene that takes place outside the villain’s den seems never-ending.

The track that stands out in this fractured narrative is the playful romance between Chulbul and Rajo, the daughter of a local drunk who he practically bullies into falling for him. It helps that newcomer Sonakshi Sinha has a smoldering presence, and is never lost even in scenes in which she has nothing to do. For a change, the half-dozen or so songs in this film are a welcome distraction because they’re distinctly melodious, and because Salman bursts life into them with his comical performance. The imaginatively shot title track, and the Munni badnaam hui item song (filmed on Malaika Arora) are particularly memorable.

Intended as a throwback to those masala 70s potboilers set in the Indian hinterland, Dabangg has the ambition and the imagination, it appears, but suffers on account of schizophrenic writing. The film’s second half is tiresome to sit through, particularly those long, plodding scenes in which Sonu Sood’s character plots his revenge on Chulbul. One isn’t looking for an intelligent storyline or character depth in this kind of movie, but there is no excuse for the uneven pacing, and for the film’s middle portion that is unmistakably boring.

Of the supporting cast, Vinod Khanna has precious little to do but scowl, and Dimple Kapadia as Chulbul’s mother hams it up till your sides hurt from laughing. Arbaaz Khan is sadly wooden, but Sonu Sood makes an impression as the smiling bad guy.

The film then belongs to Salman Khan who dives into the character with an enthusiasm we haven’t seen before. He relishes every moment of delivering those cocky lines, and turns Chulbul Pandey into possibly the most enduring character he’s ever played. You’re laughing when his shirt rips open in the film’s climax by the sheer flexing of his muscles, but that’s a good metaphor to describe this film even. An ordinary, at best average film, Dabangg can barely contain the presence of its larger-than-life star.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Abhinav Kashyap’s Dabangg. Watch it strictly for Salman, who delivers enough bang for your buck!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

74 Responses to “Bang for your buck”

  1. jacktackle says:

    Agree, again u did justice with your review thats the reason why all are waiting to see what you have to say. keep it up Rajeev. you speak the truth and you know a lot of cinema. i take a bow! its somewhat like a akshay kumar movie senseless but good at the end

  2. Avinash says:

    Very true Rajeev, You are bang on target but I am not able to understand how is it raking in so much moolah?
    Around 58 crores in first 4 days? Is it going to dip as the week goes by?

  3. anjal prakash says:

    Well how do you justify the movie breaking all records even the one recently created by 3 idiots. There must be something in the movie which you fail to see.. let me explain… this movie is about small town india and the stories which are never told before in a popular format… try to watch the movie again and you may find out why the masses are loving it… the theatre is going house full and its hard to get the ticket.. there must be something right.. try explaining dear.. u owe an explanation to people for a bad review of a good movie…!!!

  4. davenycity says:

    great blog thank you

  5. Swayam says:

    Yeah,the rating was indeed spot-on but i thought that in the review of the movie there was a bit of trying to justify the movie.Though i must agree to some of the earlier replies that this movie was solely aimed at the people in the country-side not for people in the metros. Frankly i couldn’t sit for more than fifteen minutes and wasted 150 Rs.I thought that the movie was absolutely horrible.I mean if what you portrayed in the review was true it should have been made into an animated movie and not this horribly clueless and crude movie though that might be the selling point with small town folks.

  6. bhupusingh says:

    the film dabaang is not an exception. it is just an average muvie………….
    the muvie is all about salmaan.
    no story senseless,stupid fight scene……………
    after seeing sum brilliant movie like inception .3 idiot
    i got headache while watching illogical fightscene n foolish song timing…………………..

  7. Mithun says:

    I totally agree with Rajeev , Dabang is really a very bad movie , same movie as Akshay Kumar do…..this movie is also depended on shoulders of Salman Khan , which he his not able to do so . I had very high expectations from the movie , but it seems that the Indian film industry (Hindi) has lost totally .

  8. ROY says:

    Ya…i do agree wid u rajeev.
    ” Salman ‘DABANGG’ Khan ” is the Backbone of this movie…sonu sood was also very impressive and
    Sonakshi Sinha doesn’t need any language to explain her words coz her Eyes speaks alot……I have become a huge fan of Sonakshi….!!!!

  9. Ruban says:

    Movies are meant to entertain and this one does. People sitting through the movie trying to evaluate – story kaise hai, pace kaise hai etc… will miss the whole point. Relax and give your senses a break – treat it like Page 3 of TOI, if you are looking for serious journalistic pieces there you’ll miss the point.
    Watch dabang for the cheesy lines, great songs and the celebration of India’s corrupt but colourful way of life!

  10. srikanth says:

    I think you (rajeev masand ) criticize every movie ……… you tend to find all the flaws in almost any thing …..even in of good works done by some good filmmakers ……… I WONDER WHY CANT YOU MAKE A MOVIE SO FLAWLESSLY THAT IT SHOULD GET 5/5 RATING ACCORDING TO YOU ………. CAN MAKE SUCH A MOVIE THAT NOBODY FINDS ANY FAULTS …………….

  11. srikanth says:


  12. Salman says:

    Have u ever praised any film in ur life??? Just reply

  13. Akash says:

    I’ve seen Rajeev praise many movies , movies which are genuinely good and deserve to be praised . Movies such as Jodhaa Akbar , Inception , Udaan to name a few .

    @Srikanth For your kind information brother … rajeev gave 5/5 to Avatar , which it truly deserved 🙂

  14. zakzsh says:

    Tumme itne ched karenge,tum kanfuse hoja woge ke saas kaha se le aur paade kaha se….U critised the movie which went on to break all the records…Go take rest in ur home…not fit to be a critics..The Audiences Give a hoot about ur Reviews…Buzz off,,,,,,,,,,,

  15. atul says:

    your movie reviews are good and helpful. This time salman deserved 2.5/5. Mithun and bhipu singh have completely lost it, to hollywood movies. & who gives a damn about your attitude, people. Most of the fight scene in dabangg were justified except a few. Had those exceptions been natural, u would would have yawned & poked fingers anyway. Here’s an advice. First develop a 17 inch bicep, 46 inch chest. phir aise scenes main karwaunga tumse. Ignorant people have a strange kind of confidence. we all know.

  16. vinay says:

    Dabang dont deserve even 2.5…. bakwas movie…. i could not see it more than half an hour…. so left in mid….

  17. yudi says:

    well it seems many people got personal wth critic. must say critic’s job is 2 guide us thru our viewing, watching and likin’ is a viewer’s discreetin.

  18. yudi says:

    dabangg was an avg movie, only weak link as rajeev sir pointed out d animosity between chulbul pandey and his family, there certainly a lack of clarity, thn again who goes for clarity in hindi heartland as long they c salman shirtless.

  19. kaustubh says:

    @sritanth rajeev is a critic n i think hes doin his best.. Hes nt a director to make a movie.. So dnt tlk rubbish srikanth.. To praise a movie it has to be genuienly gud.. To say even chandni chowk broke all rcrds n so did dabangg.. So u cn nt decide a movie on its box office coll.. Rajeev i doin gr8.. Thank u 4 guidin ur thru all..

  20. Punit says:

    No Offence Rajeev… I love your Reviews and I always for yor Show in CNN IBN , But I never see you giving 1 star to any English Movie…. Do you like them So much….. ?

  21. raj says:

    i Could not watch the movie after 10 mins.. aweful movie

  22. kushi parvez says:

    bakwassssssssssssss!!!!!!!! :p

  23. Nitin Kulkarni says:

    i feel Rajeev is genuine film critic, he speaks about the so called hindi commercial cinema frankly so what’s wrong in it? we need gud movies like mother India, a wednesday etc then we can understand the importance of genuine actors like naseerudinshah,ompuri rather than some bodybulider like salman khan who seldom acts and is always not for class audience. If u need some mindless entertainer u can watch it and forget it at that moment i think

  24. Sachin Naik says:

    i have just watched this movie
    and definately i cant say the movie was great because there are many boring scenes which are involved, nor can i say the movie is bad either because some of the portions of the movie are really good and salmaan was really watchable but also boring at times, songs i loved they entertained enough and that too is only because of salmaan. Just look his style and the way he dances it could be different and amazing
    i will go with 2 out of 5 but singham was ways better i give it full stars

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