Every once in a while a film comes along that hits the nail right on the head. A film that makes you retract all your pre-established thoughts regarding a certain actor or a certain genre of film. A film that begs to be watched over and over again because is it JUST THAT GOOD! The moment I saw the trailer for Dabangg I was compelled to see it, despite the fact that it was a Salman Khan vehicle. It showed great promise of being one helluva good time, and when something has that kind of pull on you what else are you suppose to do except give in and enjoy the ride? So that's exactly what I did!
My repertoire of true masala flicks is shamefully short, so I don't have a whole lot to compare Arbaaz Khan's offering to, but one thing I do know is that first time director Abhinav Kashyap knows his stuff. Dabangg has got a most excellent mix of actions, romance, comedy, melodrama, fantastic music, hot item girl number and the most brilliantly cheesy shirt ripping off sequence I have ever seen (and I am not kidding - I had to rewind and watch it several times!).
Besides the aforementioned shirt scene, there was so much I loved about this film. We get a bit of family history right at the beginning and then it's BAM! - right into the action. I have to honestly say that I didn't care for the violent action in Salman's Wanted, but here the fighting is choreographed so well. We get a bit of Matrix in there, but it's all done with a comical edge that it feels fresh and exciting. When Chulbul stops in the middle of a fight scene to dance to a ringtone I just about died laughing! This is the type of humour that is clearly present throughout the movie. That's not to say that the fight scenes are funny. Far from it. Salman Khan means business when he's dealing with the bad guys, even if he punctuates the ending with a chuckle. It's just the type of film that is way OTT and doesn't take itself seriously at all, which is 100% the point!
Central to the story is Chulbul's quest to win the headstrong Rajo's heart and hand, played strongly by newcomer Sonakshi Sinha, but, like any good Hindi film, there's so much more! We get family drama that sees Chulbul butting heads with a step-father (Vinod Khanna)who has never accepted him and his useless bhai Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan who looks strangely like an Indian version of Quentin Tarantino with a moochi to me), all while loving Hindi maa (Dimple Kapadia) tries to keep the peace. Politics plays a part as well as we see the corrupt, power hungry and extremely buff (!) Chedi Singh (Sonu Sood) looking to consolidate power and get rid of the competition, and that includes a certain cop that keeps getting in his way. There's a lot going on, but the glue that binds it all together is the self appointed Robin Hood who steals from the bad and gives to himself. It's all about Chulbul people!
And this movie is all about Salman Khan. There is not a single doubt in my mind that Sallu bhai is the only actor out there that had the sheer audacity, chutzpah if you will, to play this character. Every line, every expression, every dance move screams Salman and he does it with such panache that you can't help but enjoy the ride he's taking you on. I am generally not a fan of Salman, really only enjoying him thus far in Andaz Apna Apna, but whether it was his own personality shining through (as he has often said that he doesn't ever act, he just plays different versions of himself), or his snappy comic timing, but Salman is Chulbul, no doubt about it, and THE reason to watch this film!
Add to the action, the hoopla, the amour a killer OST by Sajid-Wajid complete with some very interesting choreography. Munni Badnaam, Hud Hud Dabangg and Humka Peeni Hai are all extremely danceable. I won't ever forget project Munni, but even if shaking your tail feather isn't quite your thing, the songs are seriously catchy, even the movie's ballads are interesting to watch on screen.
(Loving the dancing in this - esp the belt move!)
Over the top and extremely fun, self mockery or not, Dabangg makes it's way onto my list of one of the best films of the year!