Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Randeep Hooda
The Eid-release of a Salman-blockbuster has become Bollywood’s famous tradition since last few years. Sultan adds one more chapter to that success-story. The controversies surrounding the film, (the silly ‘Rape’ comment; the allegation about using someone’s real life story without credit etc.), only served to pique the audience interest further.
Sultan expectedly opened to packed houses and has continued setting new box-office records. Typically Salman’s films have only relied on his massive star appeal, without caring much about making good cinema. Does this film fall in the same category or does better?
What’s the plot?
A perky villager (Salman Khan) sets his eyes on a young beauty (Anushka Sharma). As she happens to be a sportswoman, a wrestler at that; he decides to pursue the same sport. Her dream is to win an Olympic gold medal for India; he is just fooling around to seek her company. Her sharp rebuke spurs him to take wrestling seriously. He becomes a champion wrestler and also wins the girl’s hand in the process. After marriage, she gives up her Olympic dream for impending motherhood but he goes on winning medals and championships. Success brings pride, and pride brings fall. An unfortunate mishap then drives a wedge between the couple. The estrangement deflates the man’s spirit and he leaves the sport.
Eight years on, a young businessman exhorts him to join a no-holds-barred martial arts competition. The trainer (Randeep Hooda) of that deadly sport takes one look new recruit and shakes his head in despair. Will this washed up, forty-plus ex-wrestler be able to take up the dangerous sport? Will he ever find his lost fighting spirit and get back his lost love?
· Salman Khan essays the role of Sultan with customary charm and rare sensitivity. It is easily one of his best roles and the hours of training and preparation gone into this portrayal do make the difference. He looks every bit a top wrestler and his action sequences seem real. It is well-written character which goes from a happy-go-lucky lover to a champion wrestler to a heartbroken loser to a fierce competitor in a new arena; and Salman convincingly shows that transition.
· Anuskha Sharma is superb in her role of a woman wrestler who sacrifices her dreams for her marriage and motherhood. Her chemistry with Salman works very well, both in light-hearted as well as serious sequences.
· The supporting cast is excellent. Kumud Mishra as Sultan’s wrestling coach-cum-Father-in-law, Randeep Hooda as the cynical martial arts trainer, Amit Sadh as the young sports-franchise owner and Anant Sharma as Sultan’s friend, all leave good impressions.
· Director Ali Abbas Zafar’s story-telling is crisp and he keeps the plot moving. The Haryanvi setting adds zing to the movie. The man, whose last two films (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday) had showed promise but come up short, now gets the blockbuster recipe right.
· The famed Yashraj production values make their presence felt.
· The songs fit in the narrative well.
· The story is simplistic, far-fetched and predictable.
· An over-the-hill sportsman seeking redemption is a much-explored theme and this story liberally uses the clichéd devices from similar-themed predecessors (Stallone’s Rocky and SRK’s Chak De India).
· The last third of the film drags on needlessly.
He may be over 50 now but Salman Khan still continues to carry films on his shoulders; and this film, where he is practically present in every frame, once again proves his star power. The audience going berserk with whistles and claps….which other current Bollywood star has this kind of hold on the masses? But thankfully Sultan goes beyond just star appeal and dishes out an engaging narrative with interesting characters. Despite its limitations, it scores high as a clean family entertainer!