Cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Amit Sadh, Anand Sharma, Randeep Hooda, Kumud Mishra, Parikshit Sahni
Direction: Ali Abbas Zafar
‘Sultan’ is a complete entertainer – it is everything a Bollywood film should be. Romance, action, drama and lots of masala – it checks all the boxes. To top it all, Salman Khan is in top form.
The filmmakers know exactly what Salman fans would expect out of an Eid release. They know the pulse of their audience and they ensure that the focus never shifts from the hero. I was a little apprehensive about a film on wrestling trying to woo the mainstream audience but this one is essentially a love story that tries to pack in quite a few neat little messages in the narrative.
An ageing wrestler trying to make a comeback – if you look at it in isolation, it looks impossible that a story like this would work for Dabangg Khan’s fans. Here’s where the filmmakers score, they bolster this with a heartbreaking tragedy and two broken hearts – basically an incomplete love story and we have the audience rooting for the underdog.
Sultan Ali Khan from the Jat heartland is naïve – a character trait most Salman fans believe actually defines the star in real life too. And it is this vulnerability that makes this character; his heroism and his flaws seem so real. Whether he almost impossibly readies himself for a state championship in a month or is on a conceited ego trip, your loyalties always stay with him.
To give Salman his due, he is good, very good in his part. This is not just Salmantricks at display – this is not Salman, the invincible superstar, this is a hero who is unafraid to display his paunch and show that age is catching up. As a wrestler he is okay to be humiliated and derided, he is okay to flinch in pain and nurse broken bones. But this stubborn Jat is also capable of making a comeback like no other. And it’s no surprise then that the audience roots for their hero as if he is playing in an actual ring, waiting for him to make his signature move and pin down his opponents to emerge a most unlikely champion.
A huge shout out to the casting director, Shanoo Sharma for the selection of the supporting cast of this film. Anand Sharma deserves special mention as Govind, Sultan’s best friend – he is effortless, funny and very effective. Randeep Hooda sparkles even in his cameo – as a caustic trainer, his insults seem to bring out the best in our hero. The rest of the cast - Amit Sadh and Kumud Mishra are equally commendable.
What doesn’t work is the complete lack of chemistry between Salman and Anushka. It just felt like a complete mismatch.
I also did not like the fact that our heroine’s career was completely eclipsed by the male lead’s part. For someone like Aarfa (Anushka) who seemed so focused on her ambition, it seemed like she gave up too soon. In fact, I was looking forward to her comeback eight years later but that was not to be. And for a film that was trying to break new ground, it was quite a letdown.
Well, this is a Salman Khan film and when it manages to entertainment all along, I am ready to overlook the nuances.
For Salman’s fans, Eid celebrations have definitely started early because this one is a sure winner.
‘Sultan’ will rake in the moolah and I am sure the makers can already hear the cash registers ringing.