Saturday, December 22, 2012

166: DABANGG 2

Release date:
December 21, 2012
Arbaaz Khan


Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Raaj, Deepak Dobriyal, Vinod Khanna, Arbaaz Khan, Mahie Gill, Guest appearances by Malaika Arora Khan and Kareena Kapoor  

I can’t recall the last Hindi film I saw which had such a sequentially compartmentalised screenplay … first the hero fights or has a fiery conversation with a villain, then he throws himself into a song and dance, then he has an emotional or humorous encounter with his family … next the hero fights with the villain, then he throws himself into a song and dance, then he has an emotional or humorous conversation with his family … cut to fight or conversation with villain, then song and dance, then family … String all these scenes together, change the order a couple of times, make sure Salman Khan is in every single scene, and you get Dabangg 2. The first half hour of the film is hilarious, and Salman’s Chulbul Pandey remains a charming shade of grey – a Robin Hood-style policeman who fights for the people while taking money from the bad folk to give to the good folk, including himself. It’s amusing to see Salman dance to a ringtone yet again; it’s worth a chuckle when in one song, before he plants his hands on his belt for that memorable Dabangg dance move, his belt actually moves on its own. But after the interval, the repetitiveness of it all gets cloying (by the time the hero and the brother of the main villain both take off their shirts to display their muscles in the final fight, precisely as we saw it happen in Dabanggit’s actually a bit of a bore) and as the film rolls along, the jokes get scantier, the songs are one too many, the music gets boring, the pace slackens, the film feels episodic and the insubstantial writing is shown up for what it is. A pity, because that first half hour was so promising!

The storyline is thinner than dangerous ice: from Laalgunj in Dabangg, Chulbul Pandey has now moved to Kanpur for Dabangg 2, and the earlier goon Chhedi has been traded in for politician Bachcha (Prakash Raaj). Chulbul quickly becomes a darling of the press and public in Kanpur, but inevitably clashes with Bachcha. Honestly, there’s nothing more to tell. The screenplay lacks fresh ideas, and is a painfully obvious attempt to cash in on Salman’s charisma and the success of Dabangg 1 beyond his traditional fan base. Sure, there are a couple of punchlines thrown in here and there but not one that’s even half as whistle-worthy as the “Chhedi Singh … chhed karenge” punning from the first instalment. In fact, some of the better lines in Dabangg 2 go to Chulbul’s sidekicks who come in the form of his cop colleagues. But that happens, I suspect, by pure accident, since it’s clear that we’re meant to be in Chulbul’s thrall throughout with all the other characters relegated to the margins. So inconsequential is everyone but Chulbul, that talented actors like Prakash Raaj and Deepak Dobriyal are simply wasted in the roles of villains unworthy of this hero; Salman’s brother Arbaaz Khan (also the director of this film) returns to the franchise as Chulbul’s half-brother Makkhi but disappears for a large part of the story; Sonakshi Sinha as Chulbul’s wife Rajjo has little to do beyond lower her eyelids and flash her profile; and there’s an inexplicable track to the storyline involving Mahie Gill and Arbaaz.

I loved the wild lunacy that was Dabangg. Although parts of Dabangg 2 are enjoyable, the film is not a patch on its predecessor. In fact, I came away feeling that nothing much had happened in those 128 minutes of running time. In the midst of all this, Kareena Kapoor makes an appearance to dance to the song Fevicol se which is thrown into the mix because … well ... I guess because Dabangg had Munni badnaam hui, so this film had to have an equivalent, no? I’m all for raunchy lyrics if they are fun; I’m all for a celebration of sexuality, especially in an era where Hindi film heroes are stripping off their clothes with as much elan as heroines. But is it okay for a film to feature a woman singing, “Main toh tandoori murgi hoon yaar, Gatkaale saiyyaan alcohol se” (which pretty much means, “I’m a piece of flesh, come consume me with alcohol”) while the nice-guy hero cheers? Just this morning, the newspapers carried a quote from actress Anushka Sharma in reaction to the horrific Delhi bus gangrape and the accusation that the Hindi film industry has a long tradition of encouraging sexual harassment: “The problem is not the way women dress, look or speak in films, but the mind of the man who sees them as a piece of flesh,” she said. But what of this film that exhorts men to view a woman as “a piece of flesh”? Will the industry take some responsibility now? Please!

Even for those who would rather not concern themselves with such matters but would prefer to look at Dabangg 2 entirely from the entertainment point of view, the truth is that it’s a big disappointment despite the engaging start. The film is fun and funny only in parts, not a complete washout but certainly a completely unworthy successor to Dabangg. The Khans parted ways with director Abhinav Kashyap after the success of that film, and decided that Arbaaz would helm Part 2. Since the final scene of Dabangg 2 sends out a clear message that Dabangg 3 is on the cards, perhaps it’s time to rectify that mistake.

Rating (out of five): **1/2

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
128 minutes



  1. Eagerly waiting for your list of top ten movies of 2012.

  2. 112 movies in 2011 to 57 in 2012. one more movie less and you would have had exactly half the number, what happened

    I think you should take resolution every year!

    1. by the right side of your blog, there is a blog archive that gives the count by year and month :)

      10 days into this year and nothing till now. come on time to take a resolution.

  3. finally so called 'feminist' film reviewers like you are reacting to the dirt that is dished out in the name of item numbers. Instead of plucking out silly loopholes in Hindi films your talents as an 'intrepid film critic' should be able to condone, criticise and question the derogatory representations of women on a regular basis. Today's hindi films are not a celebration of sexuality but a celebration of vulgarity.

    1. "Finally so called 'feminist' film reviewers like you are reacting..." Wow! Do you always comment without doing any research? Have you not read any of my reviews?!

    2. Dude or dudette.....whoever the hell u r, u either don't follow Anna's work including her reviews and you have not read her book....please do so before making nonsensical remarks.....:P

  4. Happened to read your interview in the Statesman this morning. You could have done better than repeating Arundhati Roy's 'Manipur and Kashmir' statement. Rapes happen all over the country including Kerala, Kashmir, Maharashtra, Bengal, in Delhi, Mumbai, slums, highrises and offices, in fact all over the world.

    1. My interview in The Statesman was about the protests that have erupted since the recent Delhi bus gangrape. I'm not sure why you are posting a comment about that interview below my review of Dabangg2, but anyway ... You could have done better than to summarily dismiss a serious comment on a serious issue without reading it carefully, because if you had read it carefully you would have realised that I'm saying precisely what you are saying: that rapes take place everywhere in India, though I make the further point that we must ask ourselves why we don't react as strongly each time! Why are so many people like you so touchy about the mention of Manipur and Kashmir in this context? I particularly mentioned these places because rape is always used as a weapon against women in conflict situations, and justice is even harder to access for such women because most often the government and citizens with a misplaced sense of patriotism are against them.

      My exact words in the interview in The Statesman are below for the benefit of those who didn't read it: "There’s something about this particular horrendous incident that has proved to be a last straw for a lot of men and women out there who are sick of how crimes against women are governing our lives, but as much as we want our politicians, police and judiciary to change, it’s important for us ~ the media and the public ~ too to examine ourselves. Would we have protested as vehemently if this crime had taken place in Kashmir or Manipur? If she was not a student that urban, middle-class India could identify with? Besides, what are we doing to sensitise our children about women’s rights and respect for women. It’s wonderful that these protests are happening but it’s important that we don’t reduce them to a finger-pointing exercise, where everyone is to blame but ourselves."

    2. Befitting reply Anna, hats off to you. People just like to talk thru their hats it seems...