1976 was the year a Sylvester Stallone film pipped Marty Scorsese’s Taxi Driver to the Academy Award for Best Picture, sending shockwaves across the world. Since, generations upon generations have all had the rug swept from under their feet upon learning about Taxi Driver’s shock defeat to everyone’s favorite underdog Rocky. What followed were six sequels and a brilliant spin-off in Creed, but none quite as good as the “OG”. All films barring the seventh, were entertaining popcorn affairs, told over the course of nearly forty odd years, cementing Rocky’s status as a legend in popculture folklore.
But what Stallone did in forty years, Salman Khan can do in one film, because Sultan in a nutshell, is a two and a half hour montage of Rocky’s best bits, blended with just the right amount of what has come to be known as the Bhai Formula.
For the past eight years, Salman Khan has been dishing out commercial potboilers on the eve of Eid, each more ridiculous than the last. However things have changed over the course of the last year or so. Either Salman is bored or even he can’t take the dross he’s been dishing out for the better part of a decade.
Things took an upturn momentarily in 2015’s heart-warming Bajrangi Bhaijaan (so many plot holes, BUT OHMYGOD THAT LITTLE GIRL IS SO CUTE, WHAT IS A PLOT HOLE) and then nosedived in the horrendous Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, leaving us all wondering if Bhai’s previous outing was just a one-off affair.
Fortunately, Sultan squashes that theory and proves to be Salman’s most radical outing you’ve seen in a while.
Sultan stars Bhai as the eponymous character who takes up wrestling to please the daughter of the local wrestling club’s coach, who(played by Anushka Sharma) is a budding wrestler herself. In three months, Sultan reaches a demi-god like status, swatting opponents aside with ease, whilst marrying the love of his life.
In short, the whole affair can be entirely summed up as “Just Bhai Things”.
However a personal tragedy strikes the family causing Anushka Sharma to go from “Baby ko Bass Pasand Hai” to “Baby Ko Space Pasand Hai”, leaving Salman a defeated man in the process.
Enter Amit Sadh with an opportunity to fight in the Indian knock-off of the UFC, and Sultan now has one last chance at redemption and to help right the wrongs of his past.
Sultan for most parts, is quite fun and is probably the biggest character detour Salman Khan has taken in a while. He still plays the bumbling small town buffoon to a tee(a characteristic that is fast becoming tedious) and extracts orgasmic applause from audiences with his witty one-liners and sheer screen presence alone . It’s very evident that the film would fall apart in the hands of anyone else apart from Salman and that’s something to be applauded.
Anushka Sharma has probably more to do this film than all of Salman’s heroines in his previous outings, but yet has her storyline ridiculously fractured by Bhai’s presence in the film. Several will take issue to her character’s development in the film and rightly so. The writing for her almost felt, stop-gap.
That jarring issue aside, Sultan is Salman’s most complete film in a long while. It’s standard commercial fare with another ridiculous emotional message at it’s core(the importance of blood banks this time). If you’ve got nothing to do this weekend and can emotionally separate yourself from the reel and real life version of Salman, try and get a ticket. You’ll come away thoroughly entertained.