Saturday, September 11, 2010

DABANGG: This is how you make a movie!

Dabangg is a full-on masala entertainer. That is really all you need to know before heading into the cinema. Did you like Wanted? Great! Then you’ll like Dabangg. Do you watch movies starring Prabhas, Vikram, or JR NTR on a regular basis? Perfect! Then Dabangg is for you! Do you consider Magadheera to be the greatest film of all time? Get in line for Dabangg tickets!

You get the idea.

So, what else can I say about
Dabangg? I’ll say this, when I left the theater at the end of the film, I felt sorry for everybody who made the mistake of going to see We Are Family instead, which was playing in the theater across the hall.

Before I get into the gritty details, let me give you a quick rundown of the film.
Dabanngg is the story of two half-brothers – Chubul Pandey (Salman Khan) is the elder and Makki Pandey (Arbaaz Khan) is the younger. Chubul’s mother (Dimple Kapadia – who is far too young to be Salman’s mother but just go with it) was widowed and got remarried to Vinod Khanna, and then Makki came along. Vinod favors his natural born son over his step son in everything. Nothing Chubul does is ever good enough for him. And Chubul grows up treating his step-father and step-brother pretty terribly in return.

This broken-family relationship is at the heart of the film and it’s actually very touching the way things resolve.

But a
masala film is not a masala film without two more ingredients – a villiain and a heroine. Dabangg has both and they’re both excellent! Sonakshi Sinha makes her debut as Rajjo, a humble potter. She’s a little shaky in places but overall, it’s a fine first performance and it makes me want to see more from her. Sonakshi gives a nice stillness and depth to her role. She’s quiet in her body language but she has these wonderfully expressive eyes. Her performance reminds me a lot of Jaya Bhaduri in Sholay. I’m glad that director Abhinav Kashyap decided to go this route with Rajjo because far too often starlets are encouraged to do that faux-girlish manic pixie dream girl thing (like Genelia in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or Sonam in everything) and I hate it. Sonakshi seems like a woman, not a girl. She was mysterious and, dare I say it, otherworldly. You understand why Chubul stops everything to find her.

Moving on to Sonu Sood – if he doesn’t receive a Best Villain award at the Filmfares next year, I’m going to throw a huge hissy fit. If you’ve seen
Arundhati you know that Sonu Sood can do villain. In Dabangg, being a Hindi language film, his act is toned down quite a bit but he still makes a huge impression. Sonu Sood plays a youth leader who is after Chubul for stealing their campaign funds – campaign funds that had been illegally acquired. He has a lair and henchmen but it’s not like Prakash Raaj in Wanted - everything is more earthy and naturalistic. In a way, it makes Sonu Sood seem all the more menacing because the stakes aren’t ridiculously high – he isn’t trying to poison all of India’s children with bad medicine, building a bomb on a secret island, or even strutting around Mumbai dressed all in white, he’s just a local small town thug and Chubul is a local policewallah.

The rest of the cast is also superb – Tinu Anand, Vinod Khanna, Om Puri, and Mahesh Manjrekar do their thing. Dimple Kapaida is divine, even if she is playing older. Mahi Gill is a lovely village belle and Malaika Arora Khan is fantastic in the item number.

And what of the style of
Dabangg? Much like Wanted, it’s a combination of tongue-in-cheek humor, deliberately ridiculous stunts, and some genuine emotion. However, unlike Wanted, the setting is homespun. Nobody wears fancy clothes (except, adorably, Makki), nobody has fancy cars, or fancy stuff. It’s a tale of the masses for the masses. Abhinav Kashyap has a feel for pacing and nothing ever dragged – the storylines cycled nicely and the songs were all placed well. I can’t wait to see what he does next!

I don’t know if you remember my post on
Magadheera a few months ago but Dabangg proves that at least one filmi family in Bollywood has figured out what the people want from a film.

Something like
We are Family is aimed at the multiplex going audiences – and the audiences overseas. But those audiences are also the same ones who would rather just go see a Hollywood film instead of Karan Johar’s muddled interpretation of one. Dabangg, on the other hand, is a pure Bollywood film. It’s masala but it’s not a Southern remake. The references and emotions feel very Bollywood – there is one scene that seems influenced from that classic Shotgun Sinha movie Shaan and others that recall Deewar.

Masala movies sometimes have messages of social importance but Dabangg doesn’t tell us anything new in that regard. It does have a message to Bollywood, though: THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE A HIT FILM.

In short,
Dabangg is the spiritual heir to films like Shaan and Mr. India - a pure entertainer that engages the soul instead of just the eyes.


Shell said...

I am so completely jealous of all who get to see this movie this weekend!!! I am actually really happy that it's being received well, despite my Sallu aversion. Sadly, like everything else, I will have to wait for the dvd. sigh.

jjake said...

Great Review! I have nearly abandoned Bollywood for Tollywood of late and had been looking forward to seeing this because it has such a wonderful Southie Masala feel to it, Unfortunetly Minneapolis isn't playing it yet (I still have hopes) so I may have to wait for dvd too. I'm very sad about that because one thing it would have that my beloved Southies don't---SUBTITLES!

Mansi said...

I like i like :)

(separately though, I prefered Wanted to Dabangg)

Here's what I thought:

Drop by sometime...


Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

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