Bhai version of Brothers
Sultan was the most anticipated film of the year: Salman Khan’s Eid release, Yash Raj films and Aditya Chopra's blessings to the Director Ali Abbas Jafar. But what starts out to be a promising romance between sportspersons (both Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma are wrestlers) soon dives headlong into a horribly predictable tale badly told. How the audience will hanker for Chak De!
Remember the 'Tumhare paas sattar minute hain' speech? And how your heart burst through your eyes in tears and you crossed your fingers and you hoped Indian women won. Here you want Sultan to win because you do not wish to see any more bloody teeth protector shots.
A sports movie should make you feel inspired to be a part of a team, want to work hard at that dying spirit inside you, teach a lesson about family and friends and fans and about becoming a champion at anything you do.
A sports movie should not want to make you yawn because it is predictable (Most sports movies are about underdogs that win, anyway!). Sultan's 'sports' portions are boringly predictable even if you don't know the phrase 'Dhobi Pachchaad' (Anything that reminds you again and again that you have left a bunch of clothes to be put into the washing machine when you came for a first day first show of this movie, cannot be good!)
A sports movie should not make you hanker after movies the movie studio has made before. The music of Sultan reminds you again and again of Chak De!
In the very least, a sports movie should have enough nail-biting sports excitement and not need to make you deaf with its special sound effects or by repeating a refrain about mitti and khoon and paseena again and again until you switch off instead of being inspired. (As a person who lives in Bombay, the 'smearing mitti on body' scenes just made me wish for better airconditioning in the theatre).
So this is about a wrestler, once an Olympian, a world champion, now nobody because of grief. Sounds like Chak De! Where Shah Rukh is a disgraced Olympian too. And like Brothers (Akshay Kumar, Siddarth Malhotra) who are sons of a disgraced fighter. Just like Brothers, there is a personal tragedy related to a child: In Brothers, the kid is fighting a blood disease, and here, too a child is the center of the tragedy of the fighter. Both Brothers and Sultan fight in the MMA arena that have similar graphics and crazy crowds and you begin to believe the statement Bollywood directors make in the press: I do not see movies made by other directors.
Maybe they should. Yes, the production values are superior because the production house knows how to make stylish movies, but apart from the sports connect of the movie, everything else is really good.
The romance is awesome, the misunderstandings are real: Just because I go with you everywhere, does not make me your girlfriend!
The village looks too clean and even though you know it is mostly a gigantic set, you are happy to watch an overgrown lad run after a falling kite. Even though you know the mazaar is a fake one, you fall for the romance of him waiting to see his wife day after day, hoping she will forgive him.
Salman Khan still has that zing which makes people whistle and cat call, but he’s aged fast, and even though his fans know that the body is the work of a graphics computer (and you lose count of how many times his biceps and his chest look different), you enjoy the madness of ‘Baby ko base pasand hai’
Anushka Sharma’s lips still annoy you, but the actor who plays her dad is just stupendous. He is Kumud Mishra. A wonderful expressive actor who fits the part (and not even credited in their IMDB or their wiki pages). The other actor who actually made this film real was Sultan’s best friend, Govind, played by a brilliant actor Anant Sharma, who is loyal and fun and understands all of Sultan’s inner battles. In fact Govind does all the acting for the lead actor who is best at taking off his shirt.
The pehelwan Sultan is a good guy, such a loving guy, that his sudden arrogance is not believable at all. It seems to be too convenient as a plot turning point. That’s when the story starts shattering slowly. Then you notice that he sings ‘Jag Ghoomiya’ at a pub/club which has the most ridiculous quote about kindness on the walls. Erm… What club where women ask Sultan to marry him and a jazz band plays happy birthday to the rich will have a quote on kindness written in brass letters? Looks like it belongs more to a moral science class than at a pub…
Anyway, the MMA matches are horrendously long and predictable. Yes, there are some beautiful touches like Sultan wanting to call his wife but hesitates and so on, but there’s not a thing new in the entire second half. Even the most enthusiastic fans seemed to have lost their collective ability to whistle and clap. If you are a fan, you wouldn't be reading this review anyway, but if you are passionate about movies, then you'll save yourself the trouble and watch it on cable...
P.S. Yes, I saw the film even though I hated that Comment Salman Khan made to the press. I apologise for not having the spine to have skipped the film on principle.