Yes, Chulbul (Salman) swings it a second time – and hits home harder. Dabanng 2 is actually a better film than the first, tighter, brighter and sharper. Featuring explosive action and fine detailing – the Pandeys move to Kanpur where cows block the streets, Chulbul asking his hawaldar, “Hum kisi khet mein ghus aaye hain?“, and being told, “Nahin sir, main chauraha hai,” – Dabanng 2 never takes its eye off its heart – Salman Khan.
This is an unapologetic star vehicle driven by Khan who rolls an SUV over with one hand, takes lakhs for his ‘police welfare fund’ with another, romances wife Rajjo (Sonakshi) with tangible tenderness, dances wild jigs with controlled abandon. Dabanng 2 is Salman’s show all the way, every second line – “Ye Kung Fu Pandey hain!” – homage to his Chulbul.
But Dabangg 2 features other delights too, like its detailing of local flavour down to the 1980s Bhojpuri hit ‘Phulauri bina chutney‘ playing at a function, its kitschy-cutesy touches (Chulbul’s belt dances the Dabangg step on its own), its moffusil-like low-voltage lighting, its heroine Sonakshi glowing with pretty appeal. It features a nice show by Vinod Khanna as Chulbul’s reconciled stepfather and tolerable acting by Prakash Raj as Kanpur’s creepy Bachcha Bhaiyya, Deepak Dobriyal his slimy sibling Genda.
There are crackling good lines (when Genda’s abducting a girl, a hawaldar muses, “Personality ke hisab se, kuch zyada nahin bol raha?“) and rainbow-like music, ranging from the soft ‘Dagabaaz naina‘ to the electric ‘Aadat badi naaspiti, Pandey-ji bajaye duty pe seeti‘ channeling the classic ‘Pinjare wali muniya‘, mixing it up with a glittering guest visit by Munni (Malaika Khan).
Arbaaz Khan’s direction is commendable – he maximises his main star, maintains balance and keeps the movie tight. There are some loose strands – an SP eating ‘pisa‘ becomes annoyingly heavy, Sonakshi’s acting stays lean, some jokes are saccharine-like – but at the end, Salman’s shirt comes off, so it’s all cool. Taking this franchise forward, Dabangg 2 presents a sewaiyyan Western where hot-cop Chulbul is cowboy and stud. If you’re up for fun that’s purely tongue-in-cheek, this will give you bangs for your buck.
Super-cop Chulbul Pandey moves to Kanpur – where he crosses guns with vicious Bachcha Bhaiyya. Can Chulbul swing it a second time?
If you don’t like Salman Khan, Dabanng 2 won’t pack a punch for you.