That Salman Khan’s Dabangg 2 is going to be a blockbuster is a foregone conclusion, but seen without the aviators of Salmania, the film has pretty little to offer other than the 46-year-old megastar’s gut-curdling action and raw humour. Salman Khan is doubtlessly in his top form in Dabangg 2, but is encumbered with a screenplay riddled with more holes than the bullets he pumps into the baddies, the end result being a haphazardly clobbered film on life-support, confused from where to breathe and from where to…you know what. The blame should squarely be laid on two people -- writer Dilip Shukla for his banal, unimaginative story, and director Arbaaz Khan whose vision of the sequel is not a patch on the deft craftsmanship of his predecessor, Abhinav Kashyap.
In short, Dabangg 2 fails to go one up on Dabangg, but it packs in enough punches and tickles to pass muster as a one-time watch. To begin with, the film fritters away the jackpot of giving Salman Khan a smashing entry by running a montage of the actor’s best shots from Dabangg in the opening credits. So when the swashbuckling cop makes his earth-quaking entry by jeeping a hole in the rogues’ den to rescue a kidnapped kid, the impact is somewhat diluted. Thereon, the film follows a safe route: sequencing the songs, romantic scenes, funny moments and fights in tandem; and so the Kung-Fu Pandey juggernaut chugs on to its predictable climax where the hero must doff his shirt and flaunt all those packs laboriously acquired pumping iron in luxury gyms.
The story in Dabangg 2 moves to Kanpur where Chulbul Pandey takes on the might of the local gangster and wannabe politician Bachha Bhai (Prakash Raj) and his brothers (a strapping Nikitin Dheer and a pint-sized Deepak Dobriyal). Chulbul bumps off the gangster’s cronies and younger brother, and in doing so draws his own family comprising an expectant wife Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha), a nitwit brother Makkhi (Arbaaz Khan) and a genial papa (Vinod Khanna) in the fray. There’s much bloodletting and bone-breaking as Robinhood Pandey goes about annihilating his foes.
Simple, formulaic, and too gutless to defy the safe path, Dabangg 2 is made solely with an eye on the box office. It’s a film that puts all its weight on the shoulders of its leading man, hoping that his charm, his humour, his wacky dances, his stunts and his antics would make up for all the creative deprivation on the part of the writer and director. Truth be told, it succeeds in that endeavor, for Salman Khan does breathe life into this confused film with a buoyant performance, ably supported on the sidelines by Sonakshi Sinha and Vinod Khanna. In the opposing rank, Prakash Raj gets away with dilated eyes and flared nostrils, and Deepak Dobriyal is given too short a role for him to make a mark.As a director, Arbaaz Khan treads the safe path and follows the footprints of Abhinav Kashyap in the 2010 superhit, neither daring to experiment, nor displaying intelligence any more than the character he plays in the film.In a nutshell, Dabangg 2 is for those who revere Salman Khan and gawk at every antic of his. For others, it is cinema lackluster, going to be blockbuster. The lamentable, neverending irony of Bollywood.