SULTAN (2016)***1/2


Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

I shall start with the only aspect of the film that i did not like. That Anushka Sharma and her character Arfa were both sidelined after the obligatory romance. Whether it was a statement on sexism or sexism itself, I am not sure. But after the 2 minute speech she gave on being a woman wrestler in the beginning, I would have liked to see more of her in this mammoth of a film. But such is life and finally it is a Salman Khan film. 

And this is where the film will surprise you too, whether you the avid Salman fan or the ‘O my god I don’t watch Salman films’ kinds. SULTAN is not your average ‘Salman Khan’ offering where nonsense is being peddled to the audience who is all too willing to lap it up. Instead it’s the kind of film that we as an audience have forgotten because we choose to divide our cinema into either serious/art/indie or mindless entertainment. There are entertaining mainstream films possible with big stars and a good story and this film just happens to prove it. Money doesn't equal mindless and Good doesn't mean boring. 

SULTAN is a solid sports film, made with all the technical expertise that Yash Raj has to offer. Watching it is like watching inspirational fitness porn, making you want to hit the gym or an akara for sure. (I wonder how many people are going to join a gym after the screening?) And even if you think you have had enough workout sequences, you realise that you haven’t. Salman Khan shines so brightly, training like a freaking machine with every shot taken with such impeccability that you realise you can watch him train for hours. Isn’t this what attracts the audience to single person sport dramas anyway? Watching a body transform into a hardened machine - a miracle almost. And Salman does all this with every sincerely that Rocky Balboa did probably. We don’t take our eyes off him for even a moment. He has a trainer in tow in form of Randeep Hooda but a tree could have been training him and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Of all of Hooda’s performance, this one is the most unappealing and lax. 

And now that my praise for the ‘Training’ montages in the film is over, let’s do a quickie review of the film. Sultan, is what my brother calls the kind of hindi film that is slowly becoming extinct in our industry - A dependable, good entertainer from a mainstream production house with solid main leads. It has a decent storyline, though with loopholes, good songs, great production value and leads who know how to give a performance and a director who has managed to put it all together. 

I sat from beginning to end, glued to the screen, watching Sultan Ali Khan struggle, rise, fall, rise again despite knowing every trope of a sports film. Its because almost every fight is being shot with great sincerity to keep each one interesting. You may know Sultan will win but you don’t know how and that’s what holds you. There is sentimentality but no melodrama, funny dialogues (one killer one mentions SRK) that generate laughter and a special mention goes to Anant Sharma who plays the best friend who all of wish we had, but they sadly exist only in films. All in all, this film is a solid watch, that you should go for this weekend. Don't be alarmed at the sight of #Bhai in the poster, have faith and you shall come out rewarded. 

Still the script could have addressed a few problems with the transitions, especially the quick almost miraculous transition of Sultan into a wrestler - all in a matter of one month! Makes me want to train for the Olympics myself - if only there was an Arfa to motivate me out of my morning slumber!  

Movie cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Amit Sadh, Kumud Mishra, Randeep Hooda, Anant Sharma

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