‘Dabangg 3’ Movie Review: Better than Dabangg 2, but still a bad film

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When Sudeep, who plays the antagonistic character named Baali, arrives on screen and exhibits the villainy, we revel in his exemplary presence. In short, Sudeep shines in a Salman Khan film.

It all began with the humongous success of the first in the series of Dabangg. Salman Khan as Chulbul Pandey was quirky and funny. This idiosyncratic Indian cop from a rural part of North India had something about him that made him immensely likeable. The dialogues, especially, were hilarious. He, for instance, jocularly asks slim policemen to be on his left, fat ones to be on his right and fit guys to be right behind him only to realise that none of the policemen cared to follow the orders and ran past him. He also realises that he had just spent a huge sum of 500 Indian Rupees to talk only for a minute with a woman he loves. And, his English is rib-tickling too. (Remember what he says after shooting at the ground unbeknownst of the fact that the man lying on the ground, whom he was aiming at, has long run away? – “There’s always a first time, always a next time… next time”.) 

Dabangg 2 tried to bask in the glory of its predecessor and was an absolute disaster. There was nothing new about it. It just used the story of Part One as a template. The Chulbul Pandey that we knew from Part One was missing. He was flavourless in Dabangg 2 to be precise. Dabangg 3, directed Prabhu Deva, attempts to address the question of ‘doing something new’. A subplot, which is a prequel of Part One, greets you here. But, does it work? The answer to this is a big “No”. Salman is colourless both as Chulbul Pandey and Karu Pandey (this Karu version is another trial to do something new-ish). The right question here would be – What part of this ‘prequel’ works? When Sudeep, who plays the antagonistic character named Baali, arrives on screen and exhibits the villainy, we revel in his exemplary presence. In short, Sudeep shines in a Salman Khan film.

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More than Salman, it’s the Sudeep factor that gives us some respite from the state of boredom that the film leads you into. (The fast-paced narrative somewhat helps to keep you awake.) As Baali, his stare itself is spine-chilling. The danger is also felt in the background score whenever he appears. The camera shows him through the gaps of small Natraj idol and he looks ominous. He looks stylish as he, standing in front of a lady and not facing her, stabs her with one hand without any sort of remorse. He wears an evil look as a red light engulfs him while standing near a fire. He is also involved in a ‘dramatic reveal’ where, at first, his face is veiled behind a shadow and, later, he appears flying in the air.

Except for a couple of instances (The mistaking-balls-for-gulab-jamun scene and a cameo by Ali Basha are hilarious), the comedy is bad in the film. It feels odd to sit through a plethora of comedic scenes with the blank countenance.

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The songs composed by Sajid-Wajid in Part One were captivating. Dabangg 2’s music album was a huge hit too. This third part lacks that magic. (Well, that iconic Dabangg theme music, that sounds like Bollywood version of Ennio Morricone, stays.)

The cameo of heroines in Dabangg franchise continues. Sonakshi Sinha, as Rajjo Pandey, had a charming disposition about her in Part One. The romance in that film was simply fantastic. But the sheer irrelevance of her character was palpable in Dabangg 2. In this third installment, not only the character seems irrelevant, but we also get irked whenever this character makes an appearance. An introduction of a new character named Khushi (acted by the newcomer Saiee Manjrekar who looks good in her short stint) doesn’t give the wings to the romance part either. It only makes matters worse as the Chulbul-Khushi love angle takes off just like that!

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An interesting element, and the only lovely aspect in the film, is that ‘prequel’ itself. (Salman Khan himself has written the story and he seems to have gotten this prequel thing right in some ways.) It’s really not a perfect summation to the events of the past but has answers to some of the things about Chulbul Pandey that we liked in Part One. Why does he keep his goggles on his back collar? How did he come up with this infamous “Chhed Kar Denge” dialogue? How did someone like ‘him’ get into the Indian Police? Why was he called Chulbul after all? Dabangg 3 nicely creates a whole new universe for itself answering all of these questions in its own unique way.

Salman is revered by many. He understands that. He uses that to good effect. He, in the film, has conveyed several messages to his fans. Whether it’s ‘Smoking is injurious to health’ or ‘Dowry prohibition’ or ‘Women empowerment’ or ‘Stopping violence against women’ or ‘You reap what you sow’, he has all sorts of great things to say. As the film comes to a close, he even leaves us to ponder upon the possibility of his plunge into politics. But, will that be enough for the film to work?

‘Bharat’ Movie Review: A film that tries too hard but fails to ignite any emotion

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Either the film tries too hard in some cases to move you or shows nothing at all in other cases hoping that little exposure is enough to bring out emotions in us.

Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, Bharat (Salman Khan) is the name of the main character and the movie itself. As the movie begins, we see Bharat in grey hair and grey beard. This is the year 2010. He is almost 70-year-old. His voice can be heard in the background saying that we, as an audience, must be thinking that the story of this old guy would be uninteresting. But he assures that what we are about to witness is the story of his “rangeen zindagi” (colourful life). It was great to hear that sort of assurance but I didn’t allow myself to set high hopes solely on the basis of this.

Bharat is based on a South Korean film Ode to my father. I haven’t seen this South Korean film. So, there’s no room for any kind of comparison between the two movies. The story of Bharat takes us back to the year 1947 when the imminent partition of India and Pakistan was on the cards. Bharat is a young kid and is living in Lahore (Pakistan). To escape the indiscriminate killings on the basis of one’s religion, Bharat’s father (played by Jackie Shroff) takes his family to join the throng of people boarding the train to leave for India. Amidst the crowd, Bharat’s father and one of his sisters fail to board the train. Bharat and his family start living in one of their relative’s home in Delhi (India) and look after their provision store. So, this store becomes dear to Bharat. From thereon, the film shows what Bharat does to look after his family, his constant remembrances of his father and his sister who left behind, the efforts taken to reunite with them and how he tries to keep the provision store from being taken down by the potential builders who are keen on bringing a shopping mall instead.

The film tries to score on nationalistic sentiments. A kid says that even though he is a Muslim, he migrated from Pakistan to India as he considers India as his home nation. Someone greets “As-Salaam-Alaikum” and gets “Ram Ram” in return (to show the secularism and unity in India). In one scene, Bharat randomly starts singing National Anthem of India and the whole audience inside the theatre naturally stood up as a mark of respect followed by the chants of ‘“Bharat Mata Ki Jai’” (Long Live Mother India!). In fact, Bharat character is shown as the embodiment of people of India.

Vilayati, which means foreigner, is the name of a character who is also a close friend of Bharat. Vilayati is Muslim. (Is that a deliberate attempt to show the current environment in India where Muslims are seen as foreigners by a number of Indians and are sometimes even threatened to go back to Pakistan?). This Vilayati character is funnier at his best. He plays the iconic snake game on his mobile phone with a constant murmuring of “khaja.. khaja” (eat! eat!). He is jokingly said to be and shown as a lookalike of Nehru. After a futile attempt of lifting a heavy bag, he throws his hands up and acts as if finally having lifted it when, in reality, Bharat is the one holding it. As a matter of fact, the hilarity produced by this Vilayati character was a lot better than the annoying and forced comedy of Pirates-of-Somalia-dancing-to-the-tunes-of-Bollywood scene.

Radha (Disha Patani) is irrelevant in the film (Except that she is a part of ‘Slow Motion’ track, composed by Vishal-Shekhar, which is one of the decent songs in this film). She is glamorous and shown to have some sort of bonding with Bharat. But it is so transient and never registers well. So, as Bharat moves on with his life and parts ways with Radha, it does not make you root for them to be together. Kumud (Katrina Kaif) is in a live-in relationship with Bharat and that too with the approval of Bharat’s mother. Katrina Kaif’s bad acting, failure to render comic lines, and romantic relationship with Bharat that never blossomed further aggravated the scenes involving her.

There’s even an advertisement for a television channel and done as if it is part of the story. Anyway, this becomes even more irksome when a prolonged phase of the reunion of Indians and Pakistanis is shown. It gets so tiring and trite as this phase never ignites the emotion inside you. This ultimately leads to the inevitable reunion of Bharat and his lost sister.

As is customary, Salman flaunts his well-built body as he pulls a number of injured men using a trolley. It doesn’t even matter whether this Bharat character is 70 years old or not as he fights with such power and strength against a number of men trying to assault him while riding their motorbikes.

You do understand Bharat’s sentiment of not parting ways with the provision store but the emphasis put on it is so less that you never really feel Bharat’s emotions. Also, the banal portrayal of the family reunion, which is too long, doesn’t help it either. Either the film tries too hard in some cases to move you or shows nothing at all in other cases hoping that little exposure is enough to bring out emotions in us. Unlike Bharat’s promise that he makes early on, the film turns out to be colourless and wearisome.