Tuesday, September 28

Kutty Srank

Movie Kutty Srank (Malayalam)
Director – Shaji N Karun
Producer – Reliance Big Pictures
Cast – Mammootty, Padmapriya, Siddique, Suresh Krishna, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Meena Kumari, Sayikumar and others.
Music – Issac Thomas Kottukappally
Cinematography – Anjali Shukla
Editing – Sreekar Prasad
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Harikrishnan, PF Mathews
Release Date – 23rd July 2010

The National Award winner for best feature film - Kutty Srank, was re-released this weekend for viewers who had missed out on the film in its very short theatrical run earlier. The movie which was completely ignored at the Kerala State Film Awards, won more than 5 awards in the National Film Awards announced last week including Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and special jury mentions for the editor Sreekar Prasad and actress Padmapriya. Set in post-independence Kerala, the movie tells the story of the character of Kutty Srank, through the three ladies in his life.

A dead body which is assumed to be that of Kutty Srank (Mammootty) is found off the Cochin shores. Kutty Srank was an aimless, nomadic person who wanders from shore to shore . He did not have a family, a caste or a religion. Revamma (Padmapriya) is summoned to identify the body and to be questioned about her relationship with the boat driver. Revamma narrates her story, of her turbulent relationship with her evil father, the murder of her lover, and how Kutty Srank helped her in her life. Next is the turn of Pemmena (Kamalinee Mukherjee) who was the second woman in his life. Kutty Srank had joined a ballet troupe specializing in the art form ‘Chavittunaadakam’, led by Loni Aashan (Suresh Krishna). Pemmana was his sister and she was in love with Kutty Srank even though he did not reciprocate the feelings. The vicar of the village chruch goes up in arms against Kutty Srank since Srank does not have a religion or a caste. Pemmena narrates the incidents that followed. Then the third woman, Kali (Meena Kumari) comes to the station to identify the body. The mute woman claims to be Kutty Srank’s wife and narrates her story of how Kutty Srank saved her from an entire village which considered her as an ill omen and the sole reason for all the misfortunes in their land. Kutty Srank’s character comes across to us through these three stories by three different women.

The episodic format which has been used in this film is a very tried and tested format including the latest release Pranchiyettan & The Saint which connects different incidents that occur during different time periods in its protagonist’s life. But here, the director has opted to use the same episodic format in a slightly different way. Here the protagonist’s story is revealed through the eyes of the three different women in his life, which is a very interesting way to tell a story, as different facets of the character are revealed through the different incidents that the women narrate.

The atmosphere, in which the story is told, is beautiful. The post-independence setting, the characterizations, the music and the locations are all part of creating this great atmosphere in which the story is told. The movie starts on a slow note, with Padmapriya’s story, moves forward and then picks up momentum with Kamalinee’s story which is simply a treat to watch and then again slows down during Meena Kumari’s story. The ending leaves much to the imagination of the viewer making one think about what happened to Srank much after he/she leaves the movie hall. Along with three women, it also tells the tale of the three shores/villages that Kutty Srank goes to - one in Malabar, one in Kochi and one in Travancore. It deals with three religions - Buddhism (Revamma), Christianity (Pemmena) and Hinduism (Kali) also. And also symbolises three different seasons - summer for Revamma's portion, monsoons for Pemmena's portion and winter for Kali's portion. The film’s most entertaining parts are during Srank’s stay in Cochin along with Pemmana and Loni Aashan. There are some brilliantly written scenes and sequences in this portion of the film which stands apart from the rest of the film. There is a lot of dark humour in those portions, which makes them entertaining as well. Srank appears as different persons to these different women, He is a ruthless animal-like servant at first for Revamma, but then he undergoes a miraculous transformation out of guilt. Pemmena looks upto him with utmost admiration and love and she cannot resist revealing her strong and raw sexual nature to Srank. For Kali, Srank becomes a saviour. There is the signature of the masterful direction of Shaji N Karun throughout the movie. 

Coming to performances, Mammootty is, as expected, brilliant as the protagonist Kutty Srank. He underplays his part beautifully and is able to bring out the growth and decline of the character quite well on screen through the three interpretations, even though there is little change in his physical appearances. He plays the same character, but he comes across as three different persons to each woman. And it was pleasantly surprising to see him making some great moves during the Chavittunaadakam portions. But the movie’s best performance comes from the under-rated Suresh Krishna who is usually typecast in villain roles. He gives a spectacular performance as Loni Aashan. Suresh’s only negative is his voice, and in this movie, somebody better has dubbed for him with a voice that perfectly suits the character. Siddique is brilliance personified and he has been proving that time and again with each and every character he gets. The Palliyil Achan in this movie was no different. Padmapriya does exceptionally well as Revamma. Kamalinee Mukherjee is very good and has done a scene which comes across as quite a shocker to the audience as well. Meena Kumari as the mute woman who is considered a bad omen to an entire village is excellent. In fact, she gives the best performance among the female leads. Sayikumar plays his part with considerable ease. The actor who played the drama artist Joppan deserves special mention. P Sreekumar and Nandu are also part of the cast. The actor who played Padmapriya’s father did some terribly bad acting.

This review wouldn't be complete without a mention of the magical cinematography in this film by first-timer Anjali Shukla. One of the very very few female cinematographers we have in the country. Her National Award was indeed well deserved as the movie has some absolutely amazing visuals. Shaji N Karun’s films always have brilliant cinematography, since he is a cinematographer himself. Sound design is another brilliant aspect in the movie. And the movie has a wonderfully charming musical score by Isaac Thomas Kottukappally. The songs during the Chavittunaadakam portions are delightful to listen to. Mammootty himself has sung a drinking song in the film. Sreekar Prasad's fine editing also adds much more value to the film. The National Award winning Costume designer Jayakumar deserves a special mention, especially for the wonderful costumes he created for the drama portions. The technical team has done a marvellous job in the film. 

Overall, Kutty Srank is definitely a great piece of cinema. It was not my kind of cinema, but it still kept me hooked throughout, except for very few scenes that didnt rise up to the level of the rest of the movie. The movie stands on a slightly lower position, when compared to Shajji N Karun's previous movie Vaanaprastham (released 10 years ago). It has great performances, innovative storytelling, fantastic cinematography, beautiful music, and a great atmosphere. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but connoisseurs of offbeat cinema, this is indeed a treat. 

Rating - 4/5

Friday, September 17

Preview: Endhiran - The Robot

Movie - Endhiran (Tamil)
Director - Shankar
Producer - Kalanithi Maran
Cast - 'Superstar' Rajnikanth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Santhanam, Karunas, Danny Denzongpa, Kalabhavan Mani, Cochin Haneefa
Music - AR Rahman
Lyrics - Vairamuthu, PA Vijay, Karky
Cinematography - Rathnavelu
Editing - Anthony
Art - Sabu Cyril
Stunts - Peter Hein
Sound - Resul Pookutty CAS
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Sujatha, Shankar, Balakumaran, Karky
Release Date - October 1, 2010

The film that the entire country has been waiting for, Endhiran is finally getting ready for release during the end of this month. This mammoth production stars India's (or probably Asia's) most commercially viable Superstar Rajnikanth and one of the most beautiful and popular actresses in India, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, under the direction of Shankar who has an unbeatable 100% success rate in the Tamil industry. Initially financed by Ayngaran International and Eros, this movie was taken over in 2009 by media moghuls Sun Pictures after the previous producers backed out due to financial difficulties. Sun Pictures, who have been buying the rights and distributing Tamil films for the past 2 years (from Kaadhalil Vizhunthen to Thillalangadi), are venturing into production for the first time with this film. Academy Award & Grammy winner and India's biggest composer AR Rahman composes music for the film, while his fellow Oscar winner Resul Pookutty does the sound design. Multiple National Award winner Sabu Cyril does the art direction while the slick and stylish editor Anthony takes care of the editing. It was Shankar's dream project which he conceptualized 10 years ago, but couldnt make it because it required a humongous budget and there was no market for such films then. But after the stupendous success of Sivaji where he and Rajnikanth joined hands for the first time, he was convinced that with Rajni's star power and his direction, the movie would definitely find a market and reap huge profits. Shankar has written the script along with late veteran writer Sujatha and others like Balakumaran and Karky. 

The film was reportedly made on a budget of around Rs.150-200 crores making it the costliest film made in India. The audio release of the movie was held in Malaysia which was as grand an event as any of the Bollywood award shows. And in the previous week, the trailer launch event of the movie was held at Sathyam Cinemas, Chennai amidst much fanfare. The trailer, which is now being screened in cinemas across the country, is being celebrated by the devoted fans of Superstar Rajnikanth. The film will also release simultaneously in its dubbed Hindi and Telugu versions. The movie is expected with bated breath by fans of Rajnikanth and Indian Cinema across the world. 

Rajnikanth plays a dual role in the film. Scientist Vaseegaran (Rajnikanth) develops an android named Chitti (Rajnikanth again) with artificial intelligence. The robot slowly develops human natures and falls in love Sana (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), Vaseegaran's lady love. On the other hand, Danny Denzongpa is a rival scientist who wants to lay his hands on Chitti and use him for his own evil deeds. Endhiran is the story of the fight between Vaseegaran & Danny Denzongpa, with Chitti acting as a catalyst. And Shankar has promised that there will be a surprise in store like Motta Boss in Sivaji, in Endhiran as well. 

The music of the film is already a rage and topped the worldwide charts of iTunes in its release week itself. The movie is expected to release with 1500 prints all over the world in 3 languages. Here are some stills and the mindblowing trailer of the movie. 

Elsamma Enna Aankutty

Movie - Elsamma Enna Aankutty (Malayalam)
Director - Lal Jose
Producer - M Ranjith
Cast - Kunchacko Boban, Indrajith, Ann Augustine, Nedumudi Venu, Jagathy Sreekumar, Vijayaraghavan, KPAC Lalitha, Suraaj Venjaarammoodu, Manikkuttan.
Music & Background Score - Rajamani
Cinematography - Vijay Ulaganath
Editing - Ranjan Abraham
Art - Gokuldas
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Sindhuraj
Release Date - 10th September 2010

A Lal Jose movie always comes with a lot of expectations since he's one of the few sensible filmmakers remaining in Malayalam now. And this time around, he has opted to the story of a village belle and some other interesting characters in a village called Balan Pilla City. Lal Jose has teamed up with screenwriter Sindhuraj with whom he gave the mediocre Mulla 2 years back. But this time, they have come up with a much better movie which is immensely likable for its old world charm and simplicity. 

Elsamma (Ann Augustine), a petite girl of around 19-20 years is the most popular figure in Balan Pilla City, a town named after the owner of the only tea shop there, Balan Pilla. She works as an agent of a popular newspaper and also distributes newspapers to every house in the locality each morning. And her character is such that she is referred to as an 'aankutty' by the entire village. Her family of 3 sisters and mother (KPAC Lalitha) live under the care of their father's friend Paappan (Nedumudi Venu) who is like a father figure for her. Palunni (Kunchacko Boban) is a milk vendor and a close friend of Elsamma who secretly loves her, but does not have it in him to propose to her. Elsamma is at constant loggerheads with Member Ramanan (Jagathy Sreekumar), a corrupt Panchayat Member and Karippalli Sugunan (Vijayaraghavan), the notorious abkari in town. In between all this, Paappan's grandson Ebimon (Indrajith) lands in town for an extended stay at Paappan's house and starts flirting with Elsamma. Sugunan joins hands with Ebimon and hatches a plan as well. The events that follow make up the story of the film. 

Elsamma's characterization is strikingly similar to that of Manju Warrier's character in Lohithadas' Kanmadam. But the similarity does not come across in your face very often because this movie is a very light-hearted one, compared to the heavy-duty Kanmadam. There are lot of scenes and events created to glorify Elsamma, just like any hero would be glorified. But apart from such small glitches, it is a very good movie with some very well written scenes and characters. Each character in the movie has a distinct role to play and it is very rare to find such good characterizations in Malayalam films these days. Kudos to Sindhuraj and Lal Jose for that. Elsamma is perhaps Sindhuraj's career best work so far. The first half of the movie takes its own sweet time to introduce each one of the characters and their relationship with Elsamma. The second half is more of Sugunan's plans to get Elsamma out of his way and Palunni's unrequited love. All these events are told laced in a lot of humour so that the audience is not bored at all. 

Ann Augustine, even though too young for such a bold role, makes a good debut. Even though her performance isnt mind-boggling, she still manages to impress in her first outing as an actress. Her lip movements were not in sync with the dubbed voice (Dont know who's at blame for that - Ann or the dubbing artiste).  Kunchacko Boban is the surprise package in the movie. The once-upon a time chocolate boy has evolved into a fine actor and it is very evident through his performance as the lovable Palunni in this movie. He shines in both comic and emotional scenes. His body language,expressions, dialogue delivery and everything else about his performance were exceptional. This movie would certainly open more doors to him to be cast in more such mature characters and not just mushy romantic hero roles. Indrajith is a riot as the flirt Ebimon. After slightly overdoing it in Happy Husbands earlier this year, he is back in his Pious (of Classmates) mode yet again under the sharp direction of Lal Jose. He is extremely natural and has great comic timing which makes his performance stand out. It is a delight to watch him in this movie. Vijayaraghavan - 'Jorayirunnu' (to quote his own words from the movie :P). The very underrated and under-utilized actor gives a fabulous performance as the comic-villain. Jagathy Sreekumar is top-notch as the shrewd politician. Suraaj Venjarammood for once didnt crack cringe-inducing jokes and was quite okay most of the time. Nedumudi Venu and KPAC Lalitha, are as usual, brilliant. The 3 sisters did their parts well. Janardhanan was good and Manikkuttan was decent. 

There are some scenes which deserve special mention for the way they've been written and performed. Indrajith's introduction scene, the scenes in Elsamma's house and most particularly, the scene where an emotionally charged Kunchacko Boban talks to Nedumudi Venu in the second half. The dialogues and Chackochan's performance in that particular scene are nothing short of brilliant. 

Vijay Ulaganath has captured the beautiful visuals of the lush green locales of Thodupuzha and surroundings with a monsoon feel. Lal Jose is very particular about getting great visuals and frames in all his movies and he ends up extracting some great work from his cinematographers in each film of his. It is no different in this movie as well. Vijay Ulaganath follows up his brilliant work from Neelathamara with an equally good work in this movie. Veteran background music composer Rajamani who has composed some killer theme tracks for movies like Commissioner, King, Narasimham, Ravanaprabhu, etc. returns as a music composer through this movie. All the tracks in the movie are enjoyable and suit the theme of the movie. The duet song is shot beautifully and the 'Kannadi Chirakulla' song is shot in an imaginative way with fun visuals, props and costumes. Gokuldas' art direction is brilliant, especially in the song sequences. He has been able to give the entire movie a completely real look where we cannot make out which is a set and which is an actual location. 

On the whole, Elsamma is a simple, lovable family movie which stands out due to its simplicity, light-hearted humor, beautiful visuals, good songs and brilliant performances. If the few melodramatic and cliched scenes from the second half were done away with, the movie would have been much better. But still, Lal Jose has converted an okay script by Sindhuraj with some lovable characters into a movie which is difficult not to like. It leaves you with a smile when exiting the movie hall. Not many movies are able to do that these days. 
Rating - 4/5

Wednesday, September 15

Pranchiyettan and The Saint

Movie - Pranchiyettan & The Saint (Malayalam)
Director - Ranjith
Producer - Ranjith
Cast - Mammootty, Innocent, Priyamani, Khushboo, Siddique,Tiny Tom, Edavela Babu, Jagathy Sreekumar, Ganapathy, Ramu, TG Ravi, Biju Menon, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Sadique.
Music - Ouseppachan
Cinematography - Venu ISC
Editing - Vijay Shankar
Art - Manu Jagath
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Ranjith
Release Date - 10th September 2010

Ranjith is one director in Malayalam who is not scared of experimenting in his films. His last few films are proof that he is trying to bring a definite change to the diminishing Malayalam film industry. And after the path-breaking Palery Manikyam : Oru Pathirakkolapathakathinte Katha, he is back with Pranchiyettan & The Saint, a hilarious satire on Malayalees and their greed for fame and popularity. And he has cast his current favourite Mammootty as the protagonist  Pranchiyettan, a Trisshur based rice merchant. Another interesting factor is that most of the actors in the film actually hail from Trisshur district which gives a great deal of authenticity to the film and its characters. The movie doesnt fall into any of the traps of a commercial film like songs, dances and fights. Yet it manages to entertain its audience completely through its intelligent humour and wonderfully written scenes. 

The movie is about CE Francis alias Pranchiyettan (Mammootty), Aripranchi for most of the people of Trisshur and his encounter with St. Francis at a church, just when he is about to make a crucial decision in his life. Pranchiyettan is a rich rice merchant who has all the luxuries in life, except for one thing - name and fame in society. His attempts to create a definite name and image in the society is the crux of the movie. He shares different episodes of his life to the Saint like his school time love story, the election for the president post in a private club, a pursuit to get the Padmashree honour, a few days with another Padmashree (Priyamani) and finally, a young boy Pauly (Ganapathy) who changes his life. 

Ranjith has opted for an episodic format in his screenplay. So there is a chance that you would not find a coherent storyline in the movie. But Cinema, as we all know, is not about the story, it is about the screenplay, or how a story/idea is told. And Ranjith's screenplay for this movie is nothing short of fantastic. Each episode is given the right treatment, out of which the Padmashree pursuit is the high point. Pranchi falls for all the hopes that his advisor Vasu Menon (Innocent) gives him and fails each time. His support system includes Bahuleyan (Ramu), Supru (Tiny Tom), Uthuppu (TG Ravi) and Ousepp (Edavela Babu). His arch rival is Dr. Jose (Siddique) who got married to his childhood flame Dr.Omana (Khushboo). Each character in the movie has a distinct characterization and that is one of the major strong points of the movie. Each one of these characters have their share of fair contribution to the narrative. 

Mammootty excels in yet another role that challenges the great actor in him. The actor who has a peculiar skill in picking up characters who speak in different slangs and dialects, has opted for a Trisshur dialect-speaking uneducated merchant, whom he plays to perfection. Everything from his look to his dialogue delivery to his body language, expressions and timing is perfect. The actor shows that he does not need slapstick comedy to prove his comic timing once again after Loudspeaker last year. Mammootty is the strongest asset of this movie and he has made Pranchiyettan an iconic character who will be remembered for a long time. 

The rest of the cast is led by Innocent in his most wonderful comic performance in a long time as Pranchi's advisor Vasu Menon who lands him in all sorts of troubles. His remarks about a certain elocutionist Mr.Prabhakar Anthikkod is rip-roaringly hilarious if you get the joke. He matches Mammootty in every frame and is a delight to watch. Priyamani is wonderful in a short role and makes a mark in the little screen time she gets. Siddique appears in hardly 2 or 3 scenes, but each one of them is a howler where one cant help but jump off the chair laughing. Ganapathy is impressive as the prankster Pauly. Ramu is excellent and his expression while he remembers one of Pranchi's remarks his priceless. Jagathy Sreekumar gets a good role after a series of mundane roles and is as usual, brilliant. Khushboo is graceful. The actor who played the servant Eeyappan deserves special mention. Tiny Tom, TG Ravi, Sivaji Guruvayoor and Biju Menon deliver noteworthy performances. The Saint, played by Jesse Fox Allen is good and his dubbing by director Ranjith himself is great. And the director has made sure that the entire cast has spoken very naturally in the Trisshur slang in all the scenes.

The interactions between Pranchi and the Saint slightly reminds one of the interactions between and Munnabhai and Gandhi in the brilliant Lage Raho Munnabhai. And the speech scene where Pranchi embarasses himself is slightly similar to the Balatkaar speech scene from 3 Idiots. Apart from these 2 positive Rajkumar Hirani influences, Ranjith's film is completely original and amusing. It does not insult the sensibilities of the audience and yet manages to entertain them. Thats the sign of a quality filmmaker. Ranjith is a master at writing dialogues and here also the dialogues are intelligent, witty and packs a solid punch. The innovative casting is also a master stroke from the director. 

The one song in the movie is more of a montage sequence and it actually helps in carrying the narrative forward. Composed by Ouseppachan, the song is just about okay. Veteran cinematographer Venu has made the movie look as authentic as possible. Most of the movie has been shot indoors and Venu has given the right look and feel for all the frames. Vijay Shankar gives the right pace to the film through his smart editing. Art director Manu Jagath ensures that Pranchi's world looks as real as it can. Ouseppachan's background score is apt for the movie. 

On the whole, Pranchiyettan and The Saint is a great treat coming from one of the best writer-directors we have in the industry today, as part of his conscious effort to bring about a change in the industry. Hope that this film does extremely well so that we can get more films like Thirakkatha, Kerala Cafe, Palery Manikyam and Pranchiyettan. It can be called a commercial entertainer even though it has none of the trappings of a regular commercial film. A quality film with a fresh narrative, great performances and simplicity as its biggest strength. One of the best movies that has come out in recent times. Ee gadi kalakkeettondu kettaa!! Highly recommended!!!

Rating - 4.5/5  (It keeps getting better with each viewing). 

Saturday, September 11


Movie - Dabangg (Hindi)
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