Dabangg2: A crisp 1st half gives way to a lax 2nd half

MUMBAI: Sequels are a new trend in the Hindi film industry. The thesaurus defines the word as a follow-up or follow-on, among other meanings. On that count, Dabangg2 is a sequel alright. However, since a sequel results out of a successful first when it comes to films, the same is supposed to better the trendsetter; in this case Dabangg. Achieving that is tough.

Following his franchise, Chulbul Pandey aka Salman Khan is now a married man. He has also opted for a posting at Kanpur where, he thinks, the crimes are bigger and his presence is needed. Ergo he migrates lock, stock and barrel, which means he takes his constables as well as family. Once there, he is soon introduced to the reign of local bahubali, Prakash Raj and his two brothers. One, Nikitan Dheer, is the restrained kind, over six feet tall and all brawn. The other one is Deepak Dobriyal, full of bravado much beyond his four-and-half-foot stature. Raj, the eldest, is a goon-turned-politician in true Indian tradition while his brothers are his muscle power.

Predictably, the film opens with montage of the earlier version through its title cards. Khan and family are settling down in the new city. It is all lovey-dovey family as Khan and his stepfather, Vinod Khanna, have no bad blood any more, Rajjo aka Sonakshi Sinha is now his wife while half brother Arbaaz Khan is still dim as before. The family bonds are established and so is the hero?s entry in Kanpur when he takes on two killers to establish his reputation.

It is time for the confrontation between the bahubali and Khan to start, and it does so in the commissioner?s office where the bahubali has come to complain against Khan for having killed his two goons! It then continues in the form of cold stares and some dialogues of one-upmanship on both sides. That having been done, next stage is to start eliminations. That happens when bahubali?s brother, Dobriyal, is kidnapping a girl he has the hots for. Unfortunately, the girl has been promised security by Khan, who kills Dobriyal signalling the interval point and setting the tone for an exciting second half.

Contrary to expectations created, the film loses its momentum as it goes into its second half. Just about everything is predictable and seen before. Khan and bahubali have a couple of confrontations till the final one which is a bit damp because after a shirtless fight between Khan and Dheer, the latter is suddenly misses from the scene, probably preserved for Dabangg3. Meanwhile Raj, the main villain, puts up a token fight. It is totally one-sided in Khan?s favour defeating the age-old belief that in a story, your hero is only as big as your villain; Prakash Raj?s character is too meek for the final showdown.

The problem with Dabangg2 starts with inevitable comparison viewers will make with Dabangg and expect this one to be a notch above. On that count, Dabangg2 is nowhere near the original. The two main factors of Dabangg having been taken away as there is no scope for romance: courting a beau and romancing a wife is not the same thing. The other factor the earlier version had was the mother emotion which this one has no scope for. The one-liners and punches as well as gags are scarce in comparison and some scenes, if you enjoy them, are because of Salman Khan is doing them in his inimitable style.

The script seems to have been hurried through to launch the sequel before the original fades from public memory. This flaw affects first time director Arbaaz Khan?s performance as he also hurries through the sequences. For instance, what was the volleyball sequence all about since it conveys nothing except Khan asserting that playing volleyball makes a policeman?s hands strong; this when none of the policemen raise a hand throughout? Sinha losing her child could have been used to generate some emotional depth as could Khanna being threatened by Dobriyal, but it is not to be. The film has good music with songs like Saason mei?.along with mass numbers, Dagaabazzre?..,Pandeyjee?..and Fevicol?. Having been shot mainly indoors on gaudy sets, the film gives the look of a 1970s film with no gloss or finesse.

Performance wise, it would not be wrong to say that this is Salman Khan?s usual self. This time he does not do justice to the character of Chulbul Pandey. Sinha is alright. Khanna and Arbaaz Khan don?t get much scope. Raj does not make an effective adversary. Dheer impresses while Dobriyal is good.

Dabangg2, all said, is half of Dabangg in living up to expectations. Commercially, too, its prime time is the weekend and the Christmas holiday on Tuesday to make the most of.

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