(Published in The New Sunday Express, on December 23, 2012)
Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Raj, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod Khanna, and others
Director: Arbaaz Khan
Rating: 1 star
I’m relatively sure I’m among those most relieved the world didn’t end on December 21 – if it had, I’d have spent half my last day on earth watching Dabangg 2, and the rest of it thinking about the film. While it is considerably shorter than the first edition, most of its running time is taken up by boring fight sequences, a forgettable comedy track, and a double dose of item numbers. The songs that aren’t item numbers strike an even more discordant note in the film, what with Kathakali and Odissi-or-Bharatanatyam dancers hitting on Chulbul.
The opening scene has Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan) looking at the photograph of a boy. Next thing we know, the kid’s been abducted by a motley crew of bald and balding men, who’re already terrified of Pandey. As television crews, which are so ubiquitous in the film you’d think the makers had mistaken Kanpur for Delhi, swarm around the school to report on the kidnap, Pandey and his army ofchamchas have gone to the kidnapper’s den, to start off the first boring fight sequence. Someone gets hit on the crotch, someone’s position is given away by a mobile phone, someone is flung in the air, someone else’s bald head gets hit so hard it resonates like a tuning fork. Yawn.
The only line I remember is a rebuke from Chulbul to the father of the ransomed child over his willingness to give money to “maarne wala”, as opposed to “bachaane wala”. And Chulbul’s found several different modulations for “aate hain”. More power to Salman. He goes overboard in his attempts to act by supplying himself with several tear-inducing moments, but struggles to wipe the glycerine off his face convincingly. Then again, when the emotion is induced by the sight of Makhi’s sideburns, you kinda sorta get why it would be hard to bring conviction into the scene.
So, how has the story progressed from Dabangg? Makhi (Arbaaz Khan) is married, and he and Pitaji (Vinod Khanna) are now so attached to Chulbul they’re willing to leave home, hearth, and in Makhi’s case wife, behind to follow him a few hundred kilometres away. Having got married in the first film, Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha) has to get pregnant in this one. Chulbul continues to win popularity with his police encounters, and the high point of a film is murder at a pandal.
Most of the comedy draws from Makhi’s stupidity. And the rest of it draws from Pandey’s interactions with his goons, his Papa, and fawning female reporters. As usual, the film is further undermined by disaster. The audience is forced to switch from trying-to-laugh mode to wondering-why-pregnant-women-
always-go-to-temples-when-the- villain-is-at-large mode.
Ah, the villain. Prakash Raj’s thespian skills are wasted in this film, which requires him to look stumped and pissed at each of Chulbul’s inane retorts to his threats. His facial expressions are, as always, a treat. But even the climactic fight sequence fizzles out, and its only contribution to the film is finding yet another way for Salman Khan to go shirtless.
The Verdict: I suppose whatever usually appeals to Salman fans will appeal to them in this film too, but if you’re not one of those, you should save your money, time, and sanity.