Movie Review: Dabangg 2


Movie Review: Dabangg 2

Cast:Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Raj
Director: Arbaaz Khan

Spoilers ahead

As a quick-fix lyrical device, Zandu balm is probably only a hop, skip and jump away from Fevicol adhesive. But the move from Malaika Arora Khan to Kareena Kapoor is nothing less than a quantum leap.

The Dabangg item number had worked wonders for both Munni and the brand, but the bonding agent that the sensuous danseuse extols in the sequel does not quite stick.

So, the obvious question: is Dabangg 2 really twice as nice as the original action flick that made giant waves in 2010? Well, for one, the follow-up has been mounted on a far more lavish scale: its budget is nearly double that of the precursor.

This film might also end up raking in a much larger box office booty than Dabangg did. But assessed strictly as a pure entertainer designed for instant mass gratification, it isn’t half as successful.

But make no mistake. Dabangg 2 is every inch of the way the critic-proof film that it is meant to be. No matter how many holes you might spot in its uncomplicated, wafer-thin narrative edifice, Bollywood’s most bankable megastar's onscreen deeds, at a bit of a stretch, would serve to paper over all of them.

The protagonist, as is well known, is a one-man demolition squad: enforcer, avenger and terminator all rolled into one. He fights and dances, swears and serenades, and delivers punchlines and punches without ever breaking into a sweat.

Among other things, he saves a little boy from a bunch of kidnappers, prevents a bride from being abducted by a stalker from the wedding podium and keeps a slimy politician on a tight leash.

When he emerges from these supercharged skirmishes, not a hair on his head is out of place. And neither is the Rayban that dangles daintily from the back of his shirt collar.

As you watch Dabangg 2, crammed as it is with an entire panoply of crowd-pleasing tropes, you see no reason to doubt its money-spinning potential. The folksy songs, robustly choreographed and lustily performed, add to the film's LCD (lowest common denominator) appeal.

Producer and actor Arbaaz Khan has stepped into director Abhinav Kashyap’s boots, Dabangg screenwriter Dilip Shukla has done the reload, and Salman Khan and Sonakshi Sinha are Chulbul Pandey and Rajjo (who is now happily domesticated) again.

But there is something amiss: Dabangg 2 lacks the infectious verve and delightfully pervasive spontaneity of the film that triggered Bollywood's 100-crore craze a couple of years ago.

The cynical but golden-hearted supercop, both his swagger and bluster intact, is relocated in this film from rural Lalganj to an urban Kanpur setting and that instantly robs him off the likable earthy sheen that had set him apart in Dabangg.

Of course, the man is still in possession of a natural affinity for bizarre ways of resolving law and order issues -- one of his lackeys calls him Kung-fu Pandey.

Like he did two years ago, he tosses off insouciant repartee with customary aplomb. Trouble is he does not tickle the funny bone quite as much nor deliver thrills quite as regularly as he had done the first time around. The pace of Dabangg 2, even at its modest length (129 minutes), is uneven.

There can be no denying that Salman Khan is perfectly cut out for the carefree Robin Hood act that he has made his own. Unfortunately, the Dabangg 2 screenplay is devoid of any fresh ideas.

The one-liners are rather laboured and the heroic acts that Chulbul Pandey pulls off with an eye firmly on the gallery are all too predictable.

Prakash Raj is the principal antagonist, Bachcha Bhaiyya. What the consummate actor brings to the mix is perfect modulation and an air of chilling menace.
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