Watched it! With an Eid audience, which was super fun. We were very under dressed, but we got to admire everyone else’s nice clothes.
The best part about the audience was the little baby sitting in front of us who kept waving his arms in the air and shouting “no no no no NO!” at the screen. In many ways, he spoke for us all. Because, NO!!!!! No to Daisy Shah “acting”, no to Bobby Deol being way too skinny, no to characters that have no motivation or emotional depth, no to terrible terrible in every way songs, and most of all NO to Salman.
On the way home, we were talking about what it was like to watch Salman, and we finally realized why he felt familiar. He felt like Mohammed Ali, back before he went public with his diagnosis. Or Dilip Kumar now. There is a kind of disconnect behind the eyes, an odd delay in reactions. a strange immobility of the body. It wasn’t just that he was bad at acting, it was that by his second or third scene there was something so “off” about him that it was alarming.
I could easily tear down this movie and blame it all on Salman. I mean, it is his fault. He brought in his handpicked team of actors, who were all terrible and wrong for their roles. Bobby looks just wrong, too skinny, and too much like everyone else, his essential Bobby Deol-ness is just gone. I want him to do well and keep working, but at least in this movie he was clearly following Salman’s advice on how to present himself and it didn’t work. Daisy Shah could not sell her lines or her role at all. I can believe she would do fine in a different movie, but in this amorphous kind of character, with a director who is not known for pulling great performances from his stars, she was all wrong. Jacqueline was good, in her usual Jacqueline way, charming and bubbly and with great hair. Really, amazing hair, flipping it around was like half of her performance and I was okay with that. But overall, it wasn’t the right cast, not for these roles in this film with this director, and the only reason they were forced into these parts is because Salman insisted on them.
And Salman wrote the songs. Did we know that in advance? They are shockingly terrible. He also sang them himself. There is one song that he did NOT write the lyrics for, and for which they hired Pritam, an actual established composer instead of whatever random guys were willing to work with Salman, and there is an immediate improvement.
Besides the music, the dancing is terrible too. And this is a Remo D’Souza movie! He started as a choreographer, the dancing should be wonderful even if nothing else is. But the problem is, Salman can’t move. And Bobby can’t either. So Jacqueline and Daisy are stuck sort of dancing around them, but not too much, because that would make them look bad. Same problem with the action scenes, the two main action heroes just can’t move the way they need to.
And the plot makes no sense. You can clearly see where it takes a sudden veer into Salman Khan territory. And to make the ending he wanted work, you have to throw out much of what came before to the point that the whole becomes illogical.
So yes, it is all Salman’s fault. He insisted on a terrible cast (for this particular film. No insult to Daisy or Bobby, they could be fine in something else, but not this). And he wrote terrible songs with terrible composers. And he ruined the choreography, both dance and fight. And most of all, he destroyed the carefully built twisted plot by forcing on the ending he wanted.
But my reaction watching this movie wasn’t “booo star power, boo Salman”, but rather “Salman, I think something is really sincerely wrong with you and I am sad.”
I like Salman Khan. I know that may get me backlash from some of you, but I do. I know that he is a bad person in some ways, but he is a good person in others. And on the whole, I wish him well. And watching this movie, I became more and more sure that he is really really sick.
It’s been clear for years, and his health issues have been public knowledge. He has Trigeminal Neuralgia, commonly called the “suicide disease” because it is so painful that 25% who have it kill themselves rather than going on. 1 in 4. Salman has had it for almost 20 years.
(It’s supposed to feel like being punched in the face, happening at random intervals multiple times a day)
He also has a cerebral anaurysm. It is at the base of his brain stem, if he is careful and follows medical advice he is probably fine, but it can still cause random shocks and pain. And if he isn’t careful, it will kill him.
And then there is the odd clubbing of the hands and thickness of the face, which looks like some kind of heart problem. That’s not official, but it is obvious to anyone who looks at him and has been for at least 10 years.
But with all of that, he has kept going and kept working and put in some wonderful performances. Dabangg, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, even as recently as Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Yes, there was some CGI work, you could see it in how his face would suddenly be smoothed out in one scene, and then old and pudgy and tired in the next. And his body was altered a little, the tight young waist appearing and disappearing. But his movements were smooth, his line delivery was clear, and he was doing his job. It’s been less and less as the years have gone by, if you watch his films in order you can see him go from someone who is always jumping around, energetic, excited, giving it his all, to someone who is taking it easier and easier.
(This is a really sweet song, but also Salman is barely moving in it)
But in this movie, it’s not that Salman doesn’t care, that he is just showing up for the paycheck. It’s that he honestly doesn’t feel engaged with those around him. There were a lot of moments that it didn’t seem so much that he had forgotten his lines, but more that he had forgotten everything, why he was in this room, what was happening, who he was even. Maybe that’s why he wanted the handpicked cast around him, people who would make him feel safe, who would help him through the rough patches.
If I were someone new to the films, or new to Salman, I would laugh this all off. I would say “ha-ha, this is a terrible movie and the main actor seems drunk half the time!” But I like Salman, I feel like I know him after all these years of following him, and this movie made me sad for him.
Oh, and it’s also a terrible movie. If you are considering watching it, be aware that it is a big stupid action film with terrible songs. Kind of fun to talk over and make fun of, if you get the right crowd in the theater that cheers and laughs and so on, it might be an enjoyable experience. And Anil Kapoor was wonderful and brilliant, he ALWAYS shows up ready to work and give it his all. But I can’t recommend it beyond that.
And also, Salman, sincerely, I’m thinking of you and your family and I hope things aren’t as bad as they seem. I hope this was just a bad few months while you were filming and you will get some rest and come back better than ever.