Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hum yahan ke Robinhood hain, Robinhood Pandey
Watching Dabangg was like coming a full circle. I remember watching full-on masala potboilers in the single screen theatres of Patna as a young kid. Theatres in those days had two audience sections. The front stall for the whistle blowing junta and the balcony for the more civilized family gentry. While the hero played to the gallery, the audience played its part by applauding the insane dialogues and situations arising on screen. Bollywood then underwent several transitions and one of them was fuelled by the springing up of multiplexes in big cities and opening up of the overseas market.

The subsequent breed of filmmakers got so much carried away with targeting their products for a particular segment that they unknowingly created a divide between the front stall and the balcony audience. The elite group of filmmakers whose middle class wore designer labels started to make films for the multiplexes and the overseas market while small time film makers stuck to the B and C centers which still had single screens continuing to showcase the hero as the wronged man forced to take revenge.
Just when it seemed that Bollywood of the yore was long forgotten and the front stall-balcony divide was cemented, Dabangg announced itself on the big screen. It opened to 1584 screens and mustered a record shattering opening week collection. The money collected was more than what the biggest grosser of all times – 3-Idiots could muster in its opening weekend. Do the collections indicate that Dabangg is a class act? Definitely not! There is a need to look at Dabangg from a different perspective.

Dabangg is not about the cinema that we analyze based on its story, characters, message, picturization or anything technical. Dabangg scores low on all these points. It is about coming back to where it all began. Its film makers have remained true to their subject and not succumbed to the pressure of catering to different audience types created over the past two decades. This is not in the league of films that may be about husband-wife relationships going bad but are based in New York suburbs just to win its NRI share of audience. That is its biggest scoring point. 

It is a film that scores well with both the front stall and the balcony people because there are no pretensions. In a sense, Dabangg brings them back together again and the success of the film is a manifestation of that coming together. I went to watch the late night show of Dabangg on a Monday night at PVR in Delhi. All but a few seats were packed and yes, the whistles and claps took me back to my childhood days.

I have read in some reviews that you need to keep your mind out when you go and watch Dabangg. That might be true but isn’t that true for most of our films? Having said that, there sure have been some intelligent guys behind the making of Dabangg. Abhinav Kashyap, the director, seems to have worked on the premise that cheeky dialogues and action can still be a hit if done with conviction and he has been proved right in his thinking. Salman has once again given us a signature dance step that has already become a rage with the masses and then there is an item song that’s a monster hit. In many ways Dabangg does borrow a lot from Wanted. However, there is a difference between the two. Wanted was not a quintessential desi film while Dabangg is unapologetically desi.

Dabangg’s success cannot be attributed to its story line, direction, screenplay or the portrayals. The three pillars on which the film stands are – marketing, music and the biggest of them all – Salman Khan! The film’s promos have been a rage, the music has been a chartbuster and Salman has been made to occupy every single frame of the film and he doesn't bore you even for a minute.

Dabangg is also about defying norms. When you get to talking about its weaknesses, every rule in the book seems to have been broken. Unlike a story that binds the proceedings, Dabangg has a string of Salman histrionics put together to entertain you. The direction reminds you of Anil Sharma potboilers of 80s and early 90s, the support characters in the film are like fillers in a solo act by Salman Khan. The heroine gets to mutter at most 10 lines (mono syllables must not be counted as lines) in the whole film. The dialogues are cheesy to say the least and many a times make no sense. In the name of emotions, you have Arbaaz showing his dead mother’s asthma breather to brother Salman to evoke anger in him. The result – Salman’s body swells so much with fury that his shirt tears under pressure. The second gem is when Salman asks his would be father-in-law to ask his daughter to marry him. The drunkard says that she won’t do it until he lived. The result – the drunkard jumps off a tower so that his daughter gets married happily and true to her words of marrying when he dies, she does!

Talking about the villain played by Sonu Sood, he gets as much screen space as Ramu Kaka got in Sholay. Imagine the impact that he would create. He ends up looking juvenile in front of a seasoned Salman in full flow. It is not as if the film has bad actors but these characters are bumped off without a second thought and the extra amount of time generated is given to Salman to come and mouth something like – “Chedi Singh tumhare mein itna ched karenge ki confuse ho jaoge ki saans kahan se lein aur paadein kahan se.” Who can match that?

Ye dhai kilo ka hath jab kisipe padta hai to uthta nahi..uth jaata hai

All said and done about the weaknesses, if its Salman, you bet no one really cares! This one’s for true blue Salman fans and for the return of the macho man on the screen with the formula film that comprises of action, comedy, drama and everything predictable. What's the difference you may ask. Well, this macho man, unlike the upright bloke who was forced to fight for the cause of his raped sister, dead father and captive mother and beloved, is as real as one can get. He is corrupt and disrespectful. He wants a revenge not because he is forced to but because he doesn't like being intimidated. This film also underscores the importance of publicity and marketing gimmicks in today’s entertainment world. The collections for Dabangg will die down slowly but not before Dabangg etches its name as one of the big grosser of all times in India.

Ratings for Dabangg - who cares :)


Anonymous said...

I apologise, but I suggest to go another by.

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