(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on December 23, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/chulbuls-appeal-fizzles)
Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Raj, and others
Director: Arbaaz Khan
Rating: 1 star
The family that produces the Dabangg series – the family to which the cop, the idiot brother, and the item girl belong – deemed it clever to begin the film’s trailer with ‘More laws to break’ and have it change to ‘More jaws to break’. So, maybe we should hand it to them for coming up with ‘Kung Fu Pandey’. But, given that Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) mostly uses furniture, ranging from tables to refrigerator stands, to defend himself, maybe we should go with ‘Chulbul Oakenshield’ instead.
This time, Chulbul’s got himself a transfer to a “bade sheher” – and our first laugh of the film is finding out he’s talking about Kanpur. Well, unless you count Arbaaz Khan’s dedication to his poor son, whom he deems the inspiration for this film. Seriously, G.One’s aspirations were nobler. We all know Dabangg, and therefore its sequel, requires one to leave one’s brains behind, but the film only makes us laugh at it, never with it, however low we tune our intellect.
Having made frands with his half-brother Makhi (Arbaaz Khan) over avenging their mama’s nebuliser-induced death, Chulbul is now out to get the real baddies. In the process, he lives the life that could be the envy of the entire cow belt, sporting floral-patterned shirts and impregnating a woman who wears sindoor with a negligee.
He breaks into song every few minutes, and his belt moves without a fillip from his hands. The choreographers bring in more innovation by making him pull his trouser legs and massage his armpits in the dance sequences. Chulbul’s heroics in this film include rescuing a schoolboy from kidnappers, a bride from abductors, and his sunglasses from breaking, the last in a Rajnikanth signature move.
Most of these missions involve multiple killings, thanks to Chulbul’s firing on all cylinders – literally. While everyone repeatedly asks why Pandey stages encounters instead of arrests, no one gets answers. Some are silenced by flirting, others by a disjointed script. There appears to be some social commentary on the media, but this, like the rest of the film, is lost in the limited time spared for anything that isn’t song or fight sequence.
The most memorable aspect of the film is Prakash Raj’s acting. His Bachcha Bhaiyya, like all Bollywood villains, is a Devi-worshipping don. He’s also a politician, with links to a Narendra Modi lookalike. Sadly, the glowering looks, angry speeches, and menacing presence that usually stand Prakash Raj in such good stead are wasted on this piffle.
The Verdict: When you can’t recall a single one-liner or PJ within minutes of walking out of the cinema, you know the film’s not worth watching.