Dabangg 2 (2012)
I’ve mentioned before the curious sounds that emanate from the other end of the house when my housemate watches football. Snorts and groans and cheers and sighs.
Watching Dabangg 2 is rather similar to watching football. It requires little intellectual effort. Nothing of any real significance actually happens. There’s a lot of ego, testosterone and burly bicep. And it’s all so entertaining.
So there I was, cheering at the kung fu hero entrance of Chulbul Pandey.
Salman Khan’s alter ego appears like a postmodern meta-commentary on Salman Khan; an apotheosis in aviator shades as Salman becomes something of a Rajinikanth for our times.* It’s so action-heavy that it’s high camp; so far-fetched that it’s dead clever.
What I love about Salman’s action-comedy incarnation is that he knows that it’s silly. We know that he knows. He knows that we know that he knows. Hence the performative genius of Hud Hud Dabangg Reloaded (I mean, at 1:05 his trousers dance by themselves).
Pandey Jee Seeti is another confection of dance and Salman-tasm. Malaika – the item dancer’s item dancer – puts in an appearance with her elastic hips, accompanied by a riffing Munni Badnaam Hui throwback. After 10 years of Chaiyya Chaiyya-ing, Malaika is Munni. (She’s also the producer, which is nice work if you can get it.)
This time round, though, Malaika gives up the big item spot to Kareena Kapoor, who plays the technicolour spectacle of Fevicol Se with all the joyous abandon due a song that includes the lines “stick me to your heart with fevicol” and “I am chicken tandoori”. I’m hoping that she’ll take it all the way to a film awards stage and dance a takeaway menu.
The actual female lead is Sonakshi Sinha. Though ‘lead’ is a loose term here. She is a woman, and she is in the film. She also has far more agency, lines and character development in the 10 minutes of Yo Yo Honey Singh’s Desi Kalakaar video (in which she plays a supporting role to incomprehensible eye makeup).
But Sonakshi is not the purpose. It’s Salman. And aviator shades. And kung fu Pandey.
* I read a film article this week and I’ve come over all funny.