TweedleJi and TweedleD rarely watch movies together – their tastes are as different as chalk and cheese. The last time they had bumped into each other while watching Dev D. And then suddenly here they were in a line buying popcorn for the showing of Dabangg.
TweedleD: Hi Ji – I thought this would not be your kind of film, strange to see you here. Galat film mein aa gaye kya? (Are you in the wrong movie?)
TweedleJi: Arre D, I heard a lot about this Chulbul Pandey – the fellow who is a small town corrupt cop, wears Ray Bans and dances like a male stripper. I am here to see what it is that attracts men and women to a persona like that. So I thought a single screen would be the best place to experience this first hand.
TweedleD: Arre there is nautanki by Munni Bai, she is getting old but can still shake her hips.! Chulbul Pandey is played by Salman Khan, and Bhai is the hero of the masses! We can relate to him. Bhai speaks our language – “Hum tum mein itne chedd karenge ki bhool jaaoge ki saans kahaan se lein aur paadein kahan se!!” (at this point TweedleD is laughing so much he collapses on the man in front of him, who is laughing his head off too. Bhaichaare mein sab chalta hai!) TweedleD is helped up and in gratitude shares with the other Bhailog the vuvuzelas he has brought for the festivities.
TweedleJi recoils in horror at this crudity and begins to wonder about the wisdom of coming to a single screen. But he thinks of all the scripts he sends in that are returned unread, and stiffens his spine.
They settle down with popcorn and the film begins. Two child actors have wrapped their janeu (sacred thread) around their ears and are crapping in a field. TweedleJi has a flash-back to the last film they saw together. Cut to a heist and a confrontation where Chulbul Pandey takes on one goon after another in quick succession, keeping the trope of the 70s masala gangster and cop films intact. Nothing has changed, no heavy artillery, no backup, and the vuvuzelas and seetis are drowning out the dialog as people dance in the aisles with Chulbul Pandey. Dimple Kapadia manages to look like an asthmatic witch and Vinod Khanna is incredibly stony as the father PandeyJi. The company of such thespians no doubt inspires Arbaaz Khan to be his stony best as the brother Makhkhi. Then Chulbul ji encounters a smoldering beauty (Sonakshi Sinha) and is instantly smitten. Tere Mast Mast Do Nain showcases the full-on pelvic action male stripper dance moves of Chulbul Bhai. TweedleD wonders when we will see her joining in the dancing. TweedleJi is muttering at the stupidity of having a father dance around in underwear to Humka Peeni Hai as a thana full of cops tries to help their Inspector Chulbul Pandey woo one girl.
TweedleJi learns some quick lessons as he watches the crowds going crazy. The script can go to hell, you need one crowd-pleasing hero who speaks in semiliterate-speak and breaks all the laws while being a good heart – a Robin Hood! He should have ishtyle, and several seeti-maar dialogs, and preferably woo a leading lady who is not an emaciated fashionista! So Salman Bhai is the prime reason for the euphoria of the crowd – he is THEM. The second reason Dabanng will work big is Sonakshi; she is very normal and the aam junta can relate to her – a good looking but not anorexic or over-endowed movie star. She is attainable, while those GUCCI and PRADA wearing Aisha types never will be. And this woman actually has a bit of a role in this predominantly male focused revenge saga action film, and some importance in the tale; in Wanted Ayesha Takia was simply harassed and ridiculed and wasted.
TweedeD is squirming in his seat and very distracted. When asked he simply says MUNNI BAI kahaan hai? And just them the crowd ROARS into action as Munni becomes badnaam yet again! Chulbul Bhai goes into high gear with his signature steps, while the villainous Sonu Sood turns into a buffoon. In fact what Bhai pulls off as a semi-literate accent never quite works on Sonu and a real villain is sorely missed in this masala throwback tale. Now it is all over but for the explosions, and gun fights and wire-action, and of course the sentimental moments when Pandeyji finally turns into a father for Chulbul. And it is all brought about by one inhaler – an acknowledgment of the modern era in this otherwise 70s film!
The film ends and the twin Tweedles file out, D humming Munni Badnaam Hui while Ji is pondering on lessons learnt. Ji is struck by the parallel between Salman Khan and Arnold Schwarzenegger! Both body-builders and men of dubious acting skills, but they have the ability to chew up the scenery when they are in a frame, they can make a film watchable simply by being themselves and showing their ripped bodies once in a while. And both have the ability to make the MOST out of one-liners, something that Hindi cinema always wants but rarely has. The role of the director Anubhav Sinha, in the making of this film, seems to have been to dress Salman in Khaki uniform, plaster on a mustache, point him in the right direction and yell – GO BE YOURSELF!