It’s that time of the year again. No, we are not talking about Eid. We’re talking about the day of a Salman Khan movie release. It is the biggest day of the year in Bollywood, and rightly so. Salman is back in the Yash Raj Films camp with their second collaboration together after Ek Tha Tiger (2012). Ali Abbas Zafar, who previously hasn’t worked with any Superstar is in charge of directing duties. Will the Eid and Salman lucky charm make him enter the big league of directors? How will Anushka and Salman’s chemistry fare in the movie? And above all, is Salman Khan able to keep his streak going?
Story: Sultan Ali Khan (Salman) and Arfa (Anushka) are both up and coming wrestlers in Haryana. They both have a lot of potential to bring glory for India. This is when they both strike a love affair, and Sultan’s fortunes reach the sky as he brings India the gold medal. Everything goes hunky dory with Sultan making big strides but then the big twist happens which changes everything in Sultan’s life. What happens to Sultan and Arfa? Sultan does get a chance to redeem himself after many years in a new battlefield but does winning matter or does life matter more? Is Sultan able to get back the life he always dreamed of with his non-chalant eyes? This forms the crux of the underdog sports fairytale.
Sultan Review: The first half of Sultan is replete with character building and building the life of Sultan, and Ali Abbas Zafar is smart enough to show that Sultan reaches the zenith of success before tasting the mud of failure. This way, the redemption is a lot more effective and meaningful. Sultan flows freely through the first half, and after slight hiccups in the second half finally comes into its own. The screenplay manages to capture the local dialect of Haryana but makes it difficult for the rest of India to grasp the words. We wished the characters spoke a bit slower. Ali Abbas Zafar shows his true commercial cinema acumen with Sultan and this could mark his entry into the big league.
The makers did well by hiring a cinematographer like Artur Zurawski, who is a famous Polish cinematographer, to shoot Sultan. He sees things which probably an Indian wouldn’t have seen. Sultan is beautifully shot, both the rustic rural settings and the urban arena settings where most of the action takes place. The editing of Sultan is a bit average as a few scenes which slow down the movie could have been cut. The production design and costume design give it a big movie feel without losing the realism angle. The background score is a bit too loud and overdone.
The music of Sultan has been composed by Vishal Shekhar with songs like Baby ko Bass Pasand Hai and Jag Ghoomeya already making a mark. 440 volt is a nifty peppy song and Sacchi Mucchi is the underrated song in the soundtrack. But the aforementioned Jag Ghoomeya (all versions) and Bulleya leave a lasting impression. A return to form for Vishal Shekhar.
Acting: Salman Khan has been in the form of his life. In Sultan, he shows his dedication and commitment to holding on to the status of the numerous uno actor by delving into the role of Sultan Ali Khan with more grit than we have ever seen before. He tries his level best to mouth the dialogues in his Haryanvi accent but he shines in the fighting scenes. Anushka Sharma is in prime position to replace Deepika and Priyanka in their absence and with Sultan she goes toe to toe with Salman Khan in whatever opportunity she gets. Her wrestling scenes are realistic. Randeep Hooda doesn’t have a big role but he shines as the coach who makes Sultan redeem himself. Without Randeep’s intense bravado Sultan would have fallen flat. Amit Sadh is decent in his role.
Conclusion: Sultan is the type of big film which does things a bit differently while keep the commercial aspects of the movie intact. It is a movie that is led all the way through by a charming performance by a lead actor in the form of his life. Sultan is not flawless. There are pacing issues and the accent of the actors may turn off some people, but the underlying goodness eventually shines through. If you are in the mood to spend your money this monsoon, Sultan is one of the best ways to spend it on. Go give it a watch!
- Salman Khan gives a great performance, so does Anushka
- The fighting scenes are very well choreographed
- The cinematography, production design and costume design are all pluses
- The music is solid, even if it lacks a bonafide chartbuster
- Ali Abbas Zafar ties the film together beautifully without compromising on the commercial aspects
- The editor could have chopped off a few scenes which would have brought down the length
- The story might seem unrealistic to a few