Anyone who dismisses director Abhinav Kashyap’s debut film Dabangg as mindless entertainment has not understood the heart of the Hindi film blockbuster. It is fast-paced, action-packed, loud, colourful, lustily melodious, emotional, romantic, reverential of family and held together by the charisma of a single star who towers head and shoulders above the chaotic concoction. It may not always have sequential logic, but it inevitably invites loud cat calls and whistles. It seldom makes you think, but it always leaves you entertained. That is the heart of Dabangg – an entertainer for the masses, easily shrugging off the aspirations of the classes.
Producer: Arbaaz Khan, Malaika Arora Khan & Dhilin Mehta
Director: Abhinav Kashyap
Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Sonu Sood, Mahi Gill, Paresh Rawal, Vinod Khanna, Anupam Kher, Raghuvir Yadav, Malaika Arora Khan, Tinu Anand, Om Puri, Sonu Sood, Dimple Kapadia.
Music direction: Sajid Ali, Wajid Ali
The plot, like in many successful action films, is admittedly wafer thin. Chulbul Pandey aka Robin Hood Pandey (Salman Khan) is a cop who believes that the end justifies the means and in his own fashion sets out to bring the arm of the law down upon local politician Cheddi Singh (Sonu Sood). In the background are all those usual complicated relationships that need to be resolved between him and ma (Dimple Kapadia), step-father Prajapati Pandey (Vinod Khanna), half-brother Makhhi urf Makhhanchand Pandey (Arbaaz Khan) and love interest Rajo (Sonakshi Sinha).
But if that plot sounds mediocre, now enters the star who makes the film a blockbuster and Salman Khan rises to the challenge with aplomb. In a role that is different from anything that he has done so far, Salman becomes the typical Uttar Pradesh village cop in every frame. Besides his special look for Dabangg, Salman also talks the part in every frame in impeccable rural Uttar Pradesh lingo. But with his dark glasses and his muscles bursting out of his shirt, he brings a touch of star presence to the role in his signature style. Seedy, yet stylish and always dabangg (fearless).
Backing Salman are great performances from Vinod Khanna, Arbaaz Khan, Sonu Sood, Sonakshi Sinha and Om Puri. The only actor who falls a trifle short is Dimple Kapadia, who fails to convince in the role of Salman’s mother Naina. Yet the cast still comes together to give the film its credibility, making you smile and sigh at all the right places.
While there has also been some interest around debutante Sonakshi Sinha’s role, she acts to the script, which predictably demands that she play second fiddle to Salman. It’s a good performance, but not one that stand out in your mind once you’ve left the cinema. Dabangg clearly belongs to Salman.
Finally it must be mentioned that Dabangg compensates for its paucity of plot with richness of dialogue. Lines from this film will resonate even after Dabangg itself has been forgotten.
The music from Sajid Wajid reflects the rustic and raunchy essence of the film, taking its entertainment quotient a notch higher. The already often played item number Munni badnaam hui, set to dance by Malaika Arora, promises to be the song that this film might well be remembered for.
I’d go with a rating of 3 on 5 for Dabangg. Watch it for Salman or if you are a Hindi cinema buff who likes the great Hindi cinema blockbuster, liberally splattered with loads of masala for good measure.
The whiff of a plait of jasmine buds
Meanwhile, path-breaking cinema continued to play at Suchitra Film Society in Banashankari II Stage, this weekend. Earlier the second quarter of Chitra Varsha 2010 – non-profit film trust Chitrasamooha’s yearlong screening of award-winning Kannada films – had been inaugurated by Basant Kumar Patil, President, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce. The festival’s souvenir was released by Boluvar Mohammad Kunnhi, Sahitya Academy winning writer, while actor Ganesh was the chief guest. The festival commenced with the screening of Yogaraj Bhat’s well-loved Mungaru Male.
- Producer: P R Ramadasa Naidu, Beerappa
- Director: P R Ramadasa Naidu
- Cast: Beby Shreesha, Master Aniruddha, Rajesh, Pavitra Lokesh, Malati Mysore, Shrungeri Ramanna and others.
- Music direction: L. Vaidyanathan
- Cinematography: Ramachandra Aithal
- Duration: 105 mins
This week the festival saw the screening of a lesser-known but no less significant film from P R Ramadasa Naidu – Moggina Jade (The Plait of Jasmine Buds). As three generations come to terms with changing family ties in a world of cyber employment, the granddaughter’s unfulfilled desire for a plait of jasmine buds becomes the metaphor for the complex relationship between tradition and modernity.
Naidu takes you into the mind of a little girl, with many gentle twists and turns that make you sit up not because they are unexpected but because every moment is extremely human. The end result is the creation of a child’s world that stands out in the context of Indian cinema.
Special mention must also be made of the fine performance from Naidu’s child stars Baby Shreesha and Master Aniruddha that give the film a special credibility. The lack of star presence in this film also liberates Naidu, allowing him to focus on an honest telling of his tale, helped forward by real performances.
Other motifs give this film a special contemporary relevance. Most significant amongst these is Naidu’s juxtaposing of tradition and modernity.
The only possible criticism for this film is its complete demonisation of modernity that sometimes leads to exaggeration. But that is a difference of artistic theme and not treatment, in an otherwise very sensitively told film.
So I would go with a rating of 4 on 5 for Moggina Jade – a real film, told from the heart. It challenges you to question your past assumptions, while treading on new path for Kannada and Indian cinema.
Just around the corner!
This week cinema lovers in Bangalore can watch out for another treat as Chitra Varsha will be playing director Kavita Lankesh’s Preeti Prema Pranaya, starring Anant Nag and Bharathi Vishnuvardhan. The film looks at the meaning of love in three different generations, and as its name expresses the underlying belief that "everybody needs love".
Suchitra Film Society. #36, 9th Main, BV Karanth Road, II Stage, Banashankari, Bangalore. Ph No 26711785
Preeti Prema Pranaya will be screened at the Suchitra Film Society on September 18th and 19th 2010, at 6:30 pm.
Also at the the Suchitra Film Society will be the Short Film Festival on September 18th, between 10 am and 5 pm. This is an open category film festival and an opportunity for aspiring film-makers to screen their short films. So it could offer an interesting glimpse into new experiments in film-making.
Watch out for updates from all these events in our next column!
The ratings and what they mean
The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and try to strike that difficult balance between cinematic critique and giving the regular film buff a peek into what’s playing in town and worth a watch.
1: Watch this film only if the director pays you
2: You could safely give this film a miss
2.5: A one time watch
3: Good cinema. Money well spent
4: Great cinema. A standing ovation
5: Simply speechless. A masterpiece