Kashyap-free Dabangg 2 is a hot mess

Damp squib: Salman Khan in Dabangg 2

Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Vinod Khanna, Arbaaz Khan, Prakash Raj, Deepak Dobriyal
Direction: Arbaaz Khan

Don’t believe anyone who tells you that Dabangg 2 is better than its prequel. Everything is worse — the costumes (Sonakshi Sinha’s unicolour saris have the most unfortunate borders), dialogue, pacing, action, character arcs (the first movie has some), songs, villains, side-characters. Everything.

You’d think that Arbaaz Khan, the director, would have absorbed something — anything — even by osmosis from his studiously film-obsessed predecessor Abhinav Kashyap. But, I am saddened to announce that a Kashyap-free Dabangg is a hot mess. I will give Rs 100 to anyone who can prove it was secretly outsourced to Anees Bazmee.

To quickly recap, the first Dabangg was a) taut b) a distilled love letter to Rajinikanth and Salim-Javed movies c) made with superior genre relish d) full of life-affirming clothes. Also, Munni Badnaam Hui changed my life. So did Sonu Sood.

Dabangg 2 is made with schematic cynicism — I can literally picture the spreadsheet of tick marks that went into its fastracked script. There is the post-tiff love song, the item song, the masculinity-alcohol song and the foreign location love song. Similarly, Chulbul Pandey baits the villain, bonds with his father, brother and wife, has the benevolent-boss rapport with other policemen and is vengeful when required.

Strangely, Abhinav Kashyap protected the Salman Khan legacy better than the Khans themselves.

The new Dabangg gets Salman Khan’s physicality all wrong. When he finally went shirtless in Dabangg, it was with referential joy. In Dabangg 2, we are repeatedly spoon-fed the sight of his steroidal bulgy torso. Sizeum not matterum. Ahum.

The action in Dabangg 2 (when not plagiarised) is far too kinetic to be fun. Salman Khan need never locomote so. If you learn anything from the Rajinikanth school of action (and Abhinav Kashyap certainly did), you will restrict your heroes to contained spurts of energy. The rest is all meta self-sureness. You are Rajinikanth, what’s the hurry?

There is a movie-wide attempt to make Salman Khan dance. Like, really dance. It’s like they forgot to percussively telegraph his non-movement. Chulbul Pandey’s endearing and bottomless stasis is entirely lost in Dabangg 2. Chulbul 2 even walks faster (because he mistakenly thinks there is a plot to keep pace with?).

His lethargy in the first movie was no accident. You could even pyschologise it as the irresolution of his relationship with his brother and father. Our insouciant and self-destructive cop is unforgivably transformed, by Arbaaz Khan, into something more earnest and less watchable — an aggrieved saviour.

Here is the fundamental difference between the two movies: I can’t help but sense (now that I’m psychologising things) that Arbaaz Khan loves cinema less than Abhinav Kashyap.



  1. Briefly dissected and nicely done review. Totally agree with author about this headless and senseless sequel. I was ardent fan of Salman till i saw this movie.

  2. ok then..holiday bonanza..got free AMC passes and hence caught D2 and Jack Reacher. As expected, Jack Reacher turned out to be the wiser decision..

    Alex has covered pretty much everything on this. But seriously, he has been far too kind with the movie. It is really a parasite living off of D1. For non-Salman fans, you are NOT going to miss anything if you wait to catch it on dvds or torrent. AK, if he goes anywhere from here, HAS to owe his career to the original director AK. This is a cinematic replica of that outstanding Sachin Tendulkar’s life-affirming 136 amidst excruciating back-pain against Pak in Chennai in 1999 which India lost — all thanks to the great Indian life-less batting which resulted in India’s humiliating loss..4 batsmen in total couldn’t manage to put up 13 runs on the board to win the test match. Abhinav is the SRT of Dabaang..and Salman’s bro has just tried his best to live off of that innings..and fails pretty expectantly at that.

    For reasons I cannot fathom, Salman is going through an extraordinarily God-endorsed phase; an extremely mediocre actor managing to economically out-gross all current stars put together..truly, his stars are burning bright..and he manages to infuse life into this movie with his mannerisms. But the film is so derivative of the 1st that even Nolan couldn’t salvage this..

    D1 comes across a classic when compared to this. And it truly was a movie with some memorable masala moments..especially Chulbul’s family dynamics..it was wonderfully erratic and weird. In fact, Chulbul’s family affairs was THE usp of the first part. Here, it is just Salman porn as DNA review mentions. The film drags for its meagre length of 2+ hours. The main drawback is Prakash Rai’s character; this is, in Chulbul’s lingo, the most ‘thuski’ masala villain there ever was. He is a 3rd rate version of Jeevan or Pran or Amjad in Amitabh’s masala films. He has not a SINGLE, a SINGLE line befitting a retort status to Chulbul. He is actually the side-kick in terms of the overall projection of the movie. He is just there to fill in the gaps. One of the plus points of D1 was sonu sood’s villany. The man surely looked and acted equal to Chulbul. Here, Baccha Singh is just a nostril-flaring, eye-brow raising villain..and nothing else. Arbaaz’s directional intelligence is so dumb that the he has cut-pasted the first 30 minutes of D1 to D2. Chulbul enters, bashes, dances!! All that Arbaaz now has to do is stuff in stuff for another 90 minutes!! And he screws up here too. Salman is not even 2 percent of AB to carry of bizzare stuff like walking English in Namak Halal or preparing omlette from a live chicken in COOLIE; so he has to rely on his mannerisms and STRONG one-liners. With mannerisms as regard to Chulbul’s world, Salman is quite effective but his one-liners can be counted on the finger-tips!! Infact, the truly ingenious and LOL dialogues can be compiled on you-tube and it would not total more than 12 minutes!

    To Arbaaz’s credit, he successfully tastes bread-crumbs off Abhinav’s plate; he plays the ‘Suppandi’ version from Tinkle comics quite naturally; and he manages to parade his anorexic but ‘filled’ wife and his brother in half-monty. (The sight of an anorexic Malaika and a bulemic Sonakshi is quite a wonderful sight of woman-hood for the male eye) The songs are horrendously shot. To please his middle-eastern fans, SK rides a bike in sand-filled Dubai with Ms. Sinha. It is such cheap imitation of D1 that really pisses one off..because this movie could have REALLY taken the ‘fable’ of Chulbul to greater heights.

    This movie is like a left-over of last night’s feast (D1). If you like left-overs, please visit this movie.

    Salman’s fans will visit his movie even if it is a porn movie..I get that..but for non-Salman fans, do not waste ANY petrol or gas driving to the theatres…you still want to, it is your wish…in the words of Jack Reacher ‘Remember, you wanted this..’

  3. Does the reviewer mean to sound highy-toity? Seems so. I am only surprised that a few names and cliches ‘dark void’ Quentin Tarantino, Sigmund Freud etc were not thrown in.

    Review of the review : 2.75/10 Can do better. Good luck with the next.

  4. Beautiful review. I began reading without checking reviewer’s name. However, scrolled up a bit on Sonakshi’s unicolor sari border mention. 🙂

    But, i liked your review in its entirety. Short, succinct, sychological and sweet. Yes, had to check online dictionary few times, and i am happy i did, meanings of those made things even better . Savored it.

    You got a loyal reader for culture & society section, reviewer. Looking forward to it.

  5. okay, you do have a link at the bottom, but people dont have that much time, dear mr moderator or whoever is reading this. Check your bounce rate.

    Print is anyway dying. See what happened to Newsweek. Spruce up your site.


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