Sultan Movie Review|Salman,Sultan Movie Review2016|Sultan,Anushka
There’s a moment somewhere in the beginning of the film when Salman Khan’s character comes to a halt at a rail crossing, and waits, just like the rest of us do, for the train to pass.
In that instant we know that Sultan is about to push twin boundaries. Of a star’s scope, and of mainstream Bollywood. That this will not be the super-human, super-hero Bhai who has been shown crossing the tracks just a whisker ahead of a rushing locomotive from one of his several forgettable flicks. That this will be a Khan who has to, literally, do a lot of heavy-lifting to win the crown.
And win it he does. ‘Sultan’ has him breaking free from Bhai-giri bondage by getting his character to crack and bleed. His down-and-out wrestler has foibles, is fallible, is human. Sultan Ali Khan has faults, and is punished for it. Because of which Sultan scores, and delivers a solid entertainer with heft.It isn’t as if Sultan doesn’t struggle with its profusion of familiar tropes. There’s your underdog-to-champion, in which child-like Jat Sultan is shown starting from nothing, becoming a world champion in no time at all (yes, there is some sweat and tears involved in the training, but not too much, because hey, this is Bollywood ). There’s a romance which involves risible songs and dialogue ( ‘Baby ko bass pasand hai’, with a shift-and-lift-of-male-and-female derriers). But the girl in question, played by Anushka Sharma with sparkle, is a wrestler herself. She is a woman with ambition, and she’s made to talk of uplifting ‘mothers’ and ‘sisters’ in patriarchal Jatland.
It won’t matter to the box-office or to legions of Khan’s fans that Sultan is, at best, a somewhat-above-average star vehicle that uses well-worn commercial cinema tropes along with a few engaging wrestling/mixed martial arts sequences to cast its spell. The result is a familiar-ish, crowd-pleasing spectacle that occasionally skimps on basics like good writing and solid characterisation. While it is far ahead of last year’s abysmal MMA drama Brothers (2015), with which it has much in common, it still sacrifices authenticity here and there for the benefit of rousing ‘filmi’ moments.
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But my biggest problem with Sultan is that it just doesn’t try hard enough to escape its own limitations, something Kabir Khan managed well with last year’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015). In a year in which movies like Airlift, Neerja, Kapoor & Sons: Since 1921, and Udta Punjab — to say nothing of the Marathi blockbuster Sairat — have changed the idiom of commercial cinema, Sultan is happy to stick to a more dated form and indulge in fan service.It’s a story of two decorated wrestlers but their awfully rustic lifestyle suggests otherwise.
Zafar cannot decide whether he wants to present his heroine as a feisty sports achiever or a dung cake smacking village belle. Also, no amount of rehearsed Haryanvi accent can conceal Salman and Anushka’s shiny stardom, which stands out out even more conspicuously around its believable supporting cast of Amit Sadh and Kumud Mishra.
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