Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Directed by: Abhinav Kashyap
Starring: Salman Khan, Sonu Sood, Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Vinod Khanna, Anupam Kher
Released: 2010
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I am no Salman Khan fan. I genuinly love some of his films from the 90s, but that usually has hardly anything to do with him. Instead the films he stars in either have some other great actor or actress (like in the case of let´s say Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), or are simply perfectly made (like Bhansali´s Khamoshi). There are several movies I like because of him (Andaaz Apna Apna anyone?), but they are rather rare cases. Unlike many others I do not care for Salman´s personal life and I do not feel the need to hate on him just because he and Shahrukh don´t get along, the truth is I simply don´t find him an actor powerful or convincing enough. There is X-factor more at work than talent, although he has (had?) plenty of it when he was younger. The older he gets the more lazy he gets. Hardly ever challenges himself, he doesn´t wander from his comfort zone, and he is one of those who will repeat the same formula again and again as long as somebody watches. So as you can see I am no Salman Khan fan. And yet after watching Dabangg I wanted to turn into one!
Prem is dead. Long live Chulbul.
Dabangg is a cinematic entertainment of the first class. Clever and witty, full of effortless comedy, action-packed sequences, beautiful songs and if I should use the atrocious clichéd saying, there is something for everybody. And the main hero is a real treat. Chulbul Pandey calls himself with gusto „Robin Hood“, but unlike the medieval European bandit who robbed the rich and gave all to the poor, he robs the robbers and keeps the loot to himself. In a way I was astounded to see how corrupt Chulbul actually is and nobody seems to mind. I guess the general perception of policemen is that they are all corrupt, and apparently as long as you are as righteous towards others as Chulbul you can afford it. There are other things that make him a sympathetic character. He is neglected by his step-father who naturally spoils his own son Makhi, he is devoted to his Maa, and finally he is loveable in his goofiness when it comes to his lady love (incredibly fresh and charming Sonakshi Sinha). Chulbul is Dabangg. Chulbul is what the whole film is about.
Bit of a Freddie Mercury style can never hurt.
When his younger brother Makhi steals some of the money Chulbul kept from himself, he has no idea they belonged to another wretchedly corrupt person – a politician Chedi Singh (Sonu Sood), and he naturally wants it back. He also wants to destroy Chulbul, who has made his life rather uncomfortable after finding out that some of his dark deeds harm the common folk (basically you can steal as long as nobody knows or comes to harm – that seems to be the moral of the story). And after Chulbul interrups Malaika Arora´s hot item number with some of his own awesome steps and pelvic thrusts, Chedi stops to control his own hatred....
Let´s shake it bhabhi!
The thrill, the family drama, the kick-ass action, the adorable romance and political plotting are intertwined just spectacularly. Painted with pleasant, earthy colours and tones and framed with melodious songs, the film is actually beautiful from every angle. True enough, over the years we have grown tired of the sudden stop of the hero in the air while he´s beating the heck up of the bad guys ala Matrix, but somehow Dabangg manages to present them as cool, something not all those who use the trick are able to do. There are memorable dialogues („I am going to make so many holes in you, that you are going to get confused where to breathe from and where to fart from“) and memorable scenes, and for the first time ever Salman doesn´t take off his shirt. Instead the shirt takes off itself.
I´m too sexy for my shirt!

I won the best stripper award six years in a row!

Are you kidding me?
As I have already noted, Chulbul is one of Salman´s best performances. He is unusually (for him) convincing and one can see the role was tailor made for him. His charisma and body language are wonderfully in sync with the character and he definitely deserves all the praise he received for it and more. Where is Salman, there needs to be an arm-candy as well. Debuting Sonakshi Sinha doesn´t have a big or deep role. She is what is demanded of a heroine. Beautiful, young, sweet. We can argue about how overrated she is (or is not) by media as we are waiting for her to act in something else, but the fact remains she did exceedingly well with whatever she was given. She definitely has the best dialogue delivery among the leading ladies who were launched in the last 5 years, and she has a pleasant, expressive face. She refused to be lost in Salman´s larger than life image and in spite of everything made her presence known. 
My hope for brighter Bollywood future.
Arbaaz Khan, who is one of the most wooden actors I´ve seen, finally found himself. Supporting role of a village lazybum, who is not evil, but not exactly saint or clever either, did for him what Chulbul did for Salman: it made him seem a great actor. For the first time ever I found him completely natural and at ease in front of the camera. The supporting cast overall did a good job, even though sentiments could hurt at a bit when you realize Dimple Kapadia plays Salman´s mother alongside Vinod Khanna. For me she will always be that young girl unashamedly opening door for Rishi Kapoor dressed inocently inapropriate.....
Pocket money time.
It´s difficult to label anything as a modern day classic. People are bound to disagree and some will slam you for your inferior opinion, and of course only the future years can really show if your guess was wrong or right, but somehow I have a feeling Dabangg deserves to be on the list of „modern classics“ for the pure fun and entertainment it represents. Also because even though it´s a massala and Salman Khan film, you do not need to leave your brain at home. And even though my undying devotion lies with Shahrukh Khan, I dare say Dabangg was the best film of the whole 2010, leaving its "chief rival" My name is Khan far behind.


  1. Very well written. I agree with you. Salman definitely has something going in his favor.
    I do not think you can really compare 2 great actors side by side because they each bring their own X factor into the the mix. You might not agree that Salman is a good actor but I beg to differ.

  2. I wonder if I am the only person in the world who disliked Dabang? I could not stand this movie. I am one of those people who NEEDS to finish a movie and I actually fell asleep in this one.
    I think this movie worked because of Salman because Chulbul IS Salu and when the director tried the same formula for Besharam it was a HUGE flop.

    1. I am quite sure there are more people who did not find Dabangg their cup of chai, so no worries :) I personally loved it, as you can see. Salman definitely made a big contribution to Dabangg, but not everyhting was just of his doing. Sometimes directors make good films and bad films both.