Director - Abhinav Singh Kashyap
Producers - Arbaaz Khan, Malaika Arora Khan, Dhilin Mehta
Cast - Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonu Sood, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod Khanna, Dimple Kapadia, Mahie Gill, Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Tinu Anand and Mahesh Manjrekar
Music - Sajid/Wajid, Lalit Pandit
Cinematography - Mahesh Limaye
Action - S Vijayan
Editing - Pranav V Dhiwar
Background Score - Sandeep Shirodkar
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Abhinav Singh Kashyap, Dileep Shukla
Release Date - 10th September 2010
Till the theatrical trailer of Dabangg came out, not many were aware that such a movie was being made and there was no kind of hype whatsoever. But as soon as the first look of the movie was revealed, Dabangg became the talk of the town, not only within the industry, but among the entire entertainment-loving audience of the country (which means almost 90% of the country). The trailer was one of the best we have seen in so many years and with that one trailer alone, the anticipation levels soared to unbelievable heights. With each passing day, the buzz around the movie grew stronger and then the cast and crew started with their aggressive promotional campaign, with Salman Khan going all out and the 'Munni Badnaam Hui' item number being the flavour of the season. The film, on its opening day has broken all the previous opening records (including that of 3 Idiots) and is on its way to become one of India's biggest hits ever. Even at a place like Cochin, where the Hindi movie-goind audience is quite low, and number of Salman Khan fans even lower, the movie has had a mindblowing opening.
Dabangg is all about one man - Chulbul Pandey urff Robin Hood Pandey, and him alone. Chulbul Pandey is a bad ass corrupt cop who takes home the money he captures from criminals and also gives it away to those in need once in a while. He has a hostile relationship with his step-father Prajapathi Pandey (Vinod Khanna), a love-hate relationship with his slightly dim-witted brother Makhi (Arbaaz Khan) and a loving mother (Dimple Kapadia). He falls for Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha) at first sight and almost bullies her into marrying him. And he's also constantly at loggerheads with the local politician Cheddi Singh (Sonu Sood), who is a much bigger criminal than Chulbul imagines. What happens when Cheddi Singh plots to do away with Chulbul Pandey forms the crux of Dabangg.
That the movie has even so much of a storyline is a real surprise. It was never supposed to be a story-oriented movie, but a character driven movie which is all about the character Chulbul Pandey and his antics. A shamelessly formulaic entertainer, this film has packaged all the entertainment factors we know of, into the 2 hours 10 minutes of its running time. It is set in a rural village in Uttar Pradesh and has a lot of interesting and quirky characters to give Chulbul Pandey company. The inconsistency in story and screenplay is made up through some smart dialogue-baazi, chartbuster songs, adrenaline rushing action sequences and on top of all, Salman's irresistible charisma. If the movie had any other actor playing the lead role, it would have fallen flat. (Unless his name is Rajnikanth). Salman makes Chulbul Pandey Bollywood's answer to Rajnikanth by performing even the most outrageous scenes and stunts in his own unique style.
This movie works on the sole star power of this guy called Salman Khan. Salman himself has confessed that he was never a great actor and he normally sleepwalks through his roles. But there is not a tinge of doubt that he is one of the biggest superstars this country has ever produced. And he does everything that a superstar is expected to do, with elan in a character written completely to utilize this star power and charisma of Salman Khan. With the pencil moustache and Ray Ban Aviators, he looks 10 years younger and better. He delivers a punch dialogue and laughs at it himself, dances along with the ringtone of the baddies, barges into the villain's item number and steals the thunder away from him and much much more. He makes complete use of his star image and his body language and it actually looks like he is having a ball acting as Chulbul Pandey. His introduction is received with thunderous applause and wolf-whistles all over the country (including the luxurious multiplexes, I hear) and many of the dialogues are not heard because of the deafening applause for its immediate previous dialogue. After making a strong comeback through Wanted last year, Salman goes on to prove that he needs no awards, no big banners, no A-list directors and no so-called acting skills to maintain his position as a superstar. People just love him being what he is - unpredictable, charming, macho and hilarious, all put together. He gets fantastic dialogues, spectacular action scenes and great songs and he satisfies his fans and the aam junta completely through his performance in them.
Sonakshi Sinha makes a confident debut as Chulbul's ladylove Rajjo. We havent seen a more womanly heroine in a long long time. The typical Indian heroine went missing from our films after Sridevi, Juhi and Madhuri stopped working, and Bollywood was taken over by the anorexic size-zero brigade (with a few exceptions like Bipasha). But Sonakshi brings back the typical Indian heroine who is beautiful, curvaceous and sensuous, dressed in sarees and ghaghra cholis. She succeeds in holding her own opposite Salman Khan who eats up all the screen space in almost the entire movie and that is not an easy job. The romantic portions between them are some of the best portions in the movie. Sonu Sood is fantastic as the villain Cheddi Singh who wanted to be a hero from his childhood. Arbaaz Khan as the dim-witted Makhi is likable. Vinod Khanna is just about okay. Dimple Kapadia is good. Mahie Gill comes in a blink and miss role. Om Puri and Anupam Kher are wasted. Tinu Anand & Mahesh Manjrekar are just about there. Malaika sizzles as Munni.(More about that later). In short, it is all about Salman Khan.
Abhinav Kashyap, brother of one of India's best filmmakers Anurag Kashyap takes a complete opposite path of that of his brother in his debut film. His objective was to make a total mindless masala entertainer which reminds us of the 70s and the action films from the South and he has succeeded tremendously in that. The formula is right in place. There are songs, dances, fights, comedy, romance, family emotions, brotherly love, corruptions, politics, everything one could ask for in such a movie. But yea, if the screenplay was a little more coherent, he could have had an all time best entertainer in his hands. He has depended a lot on Salman's on-screen persona to pull off a huge chunk of the film, which Salman does with comfortable ease. But there are quite a few scenes and shots through which Abhinav shows promise as a director.
The music of the film is already a chartbuster. 'Hudd Hudd Dabangg', Salman's mighty introduction is killer, with that belt twisting step becoming a rage. 'Chori Kiya Re Jiya' is a lovely melody, so is 'Tere Mast Mast Do Nain', shot with some comic touches. 'Humka Peeni Hai' is a very well choreographed drinking song with Salman in full form. But it is 'Munni Badnaam Hui' written and composed by Lalit Pandit (of Jatin-Lalit) which is the best part in the movie. Directed by Farah Khan, this song is perhaps one of the best item numbers Bollywood ever had, on par with 'Kajraa Re' and 'Beedi Jalai Le'. Malaika confidently shows off that heavenly body of hers. Sonu Sood has a good time dancing around until Salman barges in and steals the show. The whistles from the audience dont stop till the song is over.
Mahesh Limaye's cinematography is excellent and he has made full use of the rustic locales the film is set in. Pranav V Dhiwar's editing is razor sharp and packs a solid punch. Background Score by Sandeep Shirodkar is great, giving the film a feel of a Mexican western flick. Art by Wasiq Khan is good as well. But it is the action by Vijayan Master (Pokkiri, Wanted and innumerable Tamil/Telugu movies) that stands out, topping all the technical departments. The film has some kickass stunts right from Salman's introduction fight with a hose-pipe, an oil fight, a parkour inspired chase sequence and the battle to the finish at the end. The fights are completely over the top, but are choreographed in such a way that they look irresistible on screen. And Salman has done a fantastic job in all the stunts as well and fans get a treat in the climax when Salman's shirt actually rips apart on itself due his rippling muscles. Yes, this is that kind of a film!
Dabangg proves that star power can still make a film work big time in our country. It gives you ample masala for the money that you spend and the atmosphere inside the theaters is electrifying as well. Chulbul Pandey is Bollywood's answer to India's biggest Superstar Rajnikanth and Salman proves he's the only person who can pull off such films with ease after Rajnikanth through his bravura act. Chulbul Pandey can easily be listed among the most iconic characters in Hindi Cinema. Sonakshi is a great find and can be moulded into a fine actress in the future. Abhinav shows promise as a director but had he concentrated on a much more fool-proof screenplay, he would have had a landmark film in his hands. All in all, it is paisa-vasool entertainment at its best. See it in single screens with a huge crowd, and you would never forget the experience.
Rating - 4/5