Propelled by ‘Oopar
Allah, neeche dharti, beech mein tera junoon’, Salman Khan’s Eid release takes
off with spirit and energy, romance and masti.
There’s a leisurely introduction to the legend of Sultan Ali and his epic love
for Aarfa, a female wrestler. In fact he turns wrestler to win and wed her and
he gives up wrestling when she knocks him out of her life.
But writer-director Abbas Ali Zafar loses steam soon
after and Sultan begins to take a
beating with a weak storyline.
Firstly, Sultan’s inexplicably sudden arrogance comes so
abruptly, there’s not even a graph showing it growing. Secondly, it isn’t
credibly told why Aarfa so strongly resents his going to the Olympics when
she’s due to deliver.
Therefore, your heart doesn’t go out to her or to the
couple as the emotions that separate them don’t seem so substantial or are not
conveyed with the right dramatic impact.
Sultan does return to the ring post-interval,
emotionally driven to raise enough money for a blood bank in his village. But
the entire re-training of an out-of-shape champ and his subsequent victorious
return are so tediously scripted that the fight goes out long before the happy
ending. The final bout with a mixed martial arts champ is particularly predictable
and without excitement.
It’s also annoying that Abbas Ali makes a perfunctory
nod to women’s emancipation by casting Anushka as female wrestler Aarfa with a gold at the Olympics as her sole goal. But once she
gives up her Olympic dream, the filmmaker turns her into the usual heroine
whose only role is to chuff the hero from the sidelines.
The music by Vishal and Shekhar has chartbusters like Jag ghoomeya and Baby ko bass pasand hai. But too many songs add to an already
overstretched screenplay, making the film a far too lengthy 170 minutes.
The weak and long second half and the fact that this
is hardly a subject with universal appeal will ultimately tell on the
box-office collections after the initial euphoria settles down.
Anushka Sharma and all the side players including
Randeep Hooda and Kumud Mishra, deliver compelling performances. But it is a
Salman show and designed to cater only to his large and loyal fan base.
For a film where the writing loses vital bouts, Sultan gets a 2.5* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author