Do we measure success of a film by its takings or quality? If it’s profit, then Dabangg 2 is a success: according to the trade sources the film made on a budget of Rs60 crores has fetched over Rs180 crores so far. Mind it this is its territorial sale and not tickets. But if we talk about quality, then its zilch. I mean it shouldn’t even break even as this Salman Khan film has reached the nadir of creativity, imagination and talent.

The 2010 film Dabangg was sleek, there was novelty factor, chat-patta dialogues, rustic humour and of course continuity and a story line. Plus it had Abhinav Kashyap as the director. The sequel is minus all these points. And the biggest minus is Arbaaz Khan in the seat of the director. He should work with Salman the actor and not his bhaiya, and remember that audiences can’t be fooled. The first three days’ crowd were all die-hard Sallu Mian fans. But it is the audience after this period that really counts, and they gave their verdict by being absent.

Dabangg 2 is like the faltu films of the ’70s,’80s and even the early ’90s. In those days, producers and directors believed “Pictures teen cheezon se banti hai — five to six unnecessary songs, eight to nine fight scenes and a cabaret.” Well this film has all these masala — five original songs and three remixes, an item song (previously known as cabaret), and plentiful of never-ending fight scenes with computerised effects. The masala has been put in so disproportionally that you don’t feel like eating a single morsel.

The film takes off from where it was left off in Dabangg. Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan), the cavalier and corrupt cop who calls himself Robin Hood Pandey, continues with his shenanigans. The only changes are that he has shifted base from the small place like Laalgunj to a district headquarters in Kanpur and his interpersonal relationship with his stepfather Prajapti Pandey (Vinod Khanna) and stepbrother Makhanchand ‘Makkhi’ Pandey (Arbaaz Khan). It is a lovey dovey happy family now. A pregnant Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha), Chulbul’s wife, continues to be irritating with her pseudo-sweet smile and side looks and Makkhi is still as dumb as he was earlier. Someone should tell Sonakshi to learn a couple of more expressions to differentiate between love, anger and anguish.

Keeping with the retro appeal, the film’s credits roll on a retro-looking background and opens with Arbaaz narrating the continuity from the previous film. The entry of the Dabangg cop is a rescuing act of a kidnapped child. Slow motion, freeze frame, matching background score for the action scene makes you believe that the film will take off well.

But then the plot unfolds. The city has Thakur Bachcha Bhaiyya (Prakash Raj totally wasted here), a goon wanting to turn into a politician and so is preparing for the elections with street campaigns. Bachcha and Chulbul’s paths cross each other when goons hired by Bachcha kill an eyewitness. Cronies and his two brothers warn Bachcha of Chulbul and his attitude towards crime and criminals.

The revenge line starts when Chulbul kills one of Bachcha’s younger brothers to save a girl from being harassed. Bachcha can only harm Chulbul by harming his family — wife and brother. The saving grace is that there are no violent or blood-curdling scenes involving Rajjo or Makkhi. It is a straight hit and the scene gets over within a minute. In fact throughout the film, there are not any mind-numbing violent scenes the way we have witnessed in crime-versus-cop stories of late. That is a big plus point in favour of Dabangg 2.

In between the shots of the warring duo are the irritatingly coy love scenes of Chulbul and Rajjo, affectionate scenes of Sr. Pandey and sons, and unwanted family showdowns. And of course the unnecessary song insertion as though Arbaaz-Maliaka Arora Khan the producers of the film wanted to keep music composers Sajid-Wajid busy.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s Tere Naina Daghabaz didn’t sound as good as his earlier Tere Mast Mast Do Nain. Kareen Kapoor in her item song, Fevicol Se, is really good. This has already become a hot number and will be remembered for a long time to come. She has epitomised the oomph and the bindaas attitude necessary for the song, and she seems to enjoy dancing freely with Salman Khan. Salman is good in Bajaye Pandayji Seeti and the title song where he dances really well. The film’s choreographers — Farah Khan, Ganesh Acharya, Chinni Prakash, Raju Khan, etc — have done a real good job.

The film has Dileep Shukla as the story writer but no dialogue writers. And it shows for you can’t recall a single dialogue from the film. And for some reason Salman has adopted a funny way of delivering dialogues that is really jarring. Hope he doesn’t repeat it in his coming films.

Had there been more of a story line, continuity in scenes and a bit more direction, Dabangg 2 would have been a watchable fare.


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