I saw it! 1:45pm show, me and 3 other people in the theater, and I kept falling asleep. No slight on the movie, just because I was in a warm dark quiet empty theater, and it’s been a long week.
Let’s talk Prabhudeva! Brilliant dancer/choreographer, possibly the best living dancer in the world. Very penis-focused as a director. He comes from the Telugu directing tradition, so it is standard to take a basic plot template and make it stand out through little wacky touches. Prabhudeva’s touches aren’t necessarily wackier than other directors, but they stand out when the rest of the film is in the less cartoonish Hindi tone. And when, as I said, they are so very penis focused.
Salman gets credit for the “story” of this film, and I can believe that. It’s a straight forward solid plot template that Salman is more than capable of figuring out. It’s the stuff on top that is just WEIRD. Like, a moment when the male and female henchgoons of the villain fantasize singing “Toofah Toofah” to each other. Or when Salman starts the film by joking around about putting on Sonakshi’s petticoat?
Some of the random lands, at least for me. There is a joke about Sonakshi making Salman take a vow being very “70s-80s heroine”. At the end there’s a little joke about demonetization. If it was just little meta stuff like that, it would work. But then there’s these long scenes that are supposed to be comic but just end up being confusing, and dragging the whole energy down.
And there’s that odd macho Prabhudeva feel unbalancing the film. The Dabangg movies are, of course, very macho. But Salman’s macho feels kind of like a little boy, he will be naughty and proud and selfish, but he is trying to grow up and be better. And he treats women as special and warm and wonderful, like a mother. Sure he teases them sometimes, but he is terrified of making them angry (or sad). Prabhudeva’s macho feels more like a 12 year old boy. Very proud of his new manhood and ready to shove it in everyone’s face, with women primarily existing as sex objects.
Also unbalancing the film, Salman’s continuing health problems. I was hoping it wouldn’t be such an issue after Bharat, where they figured out how to use CGI and careful fight choreography to allow Salman to still be the hero he has to be. But in this film, it wasn’t handled nearly as well. There were several fight moves that were shot in such a way that I truly could not see what happened. In the intro fight scene, there was a move where Salman takes off his shirt, uses it to twist up a bad guy, and then puts it back on. That sounds really cool, but since Salman couldn’t actually do the move, and they couldn’t figure out how to do it without revealing the stand in, what we see is a painfully close close-up of a moving shirt, than a flash of hands trapped together, then Salman tucking in his shirt tail. Why would you do that? Why not just have Salman stand in one place while stuntmen run into his fists? It’s way more interesting than this, and far less confusing.
This sounds like a bad movie. And it’s not a great movie, I have to say. But it’s fun! The Dabangg magic is still there, the ridiculous superhero-like abilities of Salman, the great one-liners, the awesome music, the full-sized heroines, and the delightful moral ambiguity of doing things that are a little wrong, but not like wrong-wrong.
Basically, if you like the trailer, you will like the movie. All the good stuff that the trailer promised is there. There’s some other weird random stuff too, but if you like the trailer enough, you will like the good stuff enough that the weird random stuff doesn’t matter.
Oh, and Salman may have weird medical stuff and occasional strange dialogue delivery, but Sonakshi continues to get better with every movie, and Sudeep is always amazing. And the new girl isn’t terrible. So yeah, lots of good! See it, if you are a Dabangg person. Don’t, if you aren’t a Dabangg person.