Chulbul Pandey is undeniably Bollywood’s version of Rajnikanth; he has the power to fling people around with his pinky finger, his belt dances on its own when he attempts a pelvic thrust, and his driving force is usually a woman.
Bollywood has yet to find a character as visually interesting as Pandey, the heroic cop with a moustache, which explains why producing a sequel for Dabangg is a daunting task.
In Dabangg2, the sets are bigger and better; the cinematography and choreography is ravishing, and the melodious tunes keep you glued to your seats — but what’s missing is the soul of Dabangg.
Chulbul (Salman Khan) is now living with his wife Rajjo Pandey (Sonakshi Sinha), along with father Pandey Jee (Vinod Khanna) and Makhan Chand Pandey (Arbaaz Khan) in a happy household. All is well until the biggest thug in Kanpur, Bacha Singh, comes his way. Singh poses a threat to the town and Chulbul’s family but how he handles the villain is for you to watch on the big screen.
Magnanimous characters like Chulbul Pandey deserve a better script and above all, finesse in the plot. It is a failure on Bollywood’s end that a big film like Dabangg2 has lost its charm, simply because the producers don’t want to take risks. They rely on what has ‘worked’ in the past rather than experimenting with new ideas. This conventional approach is apparent in Dabangg2, making its plot uninteresting despite all the glitz, glamour and exaggerated action sequences.
Post-marriage love story
The one-liners, and bad ass hero antics fail unfortunately but what draws in the viewer is the post-marriage love life of Chulbul and Rajjo. The chemistry is incredibly powerful and simply beautiful, and takes the sequel a step ahead of the first franchise in this regard. Interestingly enough, Chulbul has now developed into a mature husband and Rajjo is shown as a tough woman who is supportive . Unlike similar franchises like Munna Bhai MBBS, Dabangg2’s directorial team did not introduce a new romantic plot in the film because that would deviate from the main story. Surprisingly, despite the weight gain, Sonakshi Sinha looks better than before and played the part of Chulbul’s wife to perfection. All the extra pounds that she piled on for the sequel worked wonders for her. The credit for all the refinement in the characters goes to none other than the director Arbaaz Khan. He has definitely taken the film to the next level in terms of production value and characters.
Product placement overload
One common thread that the film retains from the original is the obvious product placements. In the first movie, the use of Zandu Balm (pronounced jhando balm), in the song Munni Badnaam, landed producers into a legal mess. This time around, they have placed product references overtly and excessively. The overdose of product placement often takes away from the charm and makes the film look more like comic scenes for advertisements. The following are just a couple of examples: A gluttonous cop eats junk food throughout the day, offering Hajmoola to Chulbul and talks about its advantages. In another scene, Chulbul buys a new cell phone for his father and calls it by the name of the company that made it, describing all the features. These are just a few examples of a film that is filled with such non-subliminal product placements; in this overkill, an item song titled Fevicol Se seems quite subtle.
Dabangg2 is not the perfect sequel to a film like Dabangg, but Salman Khan fans should definitely not miss out!
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.