Enjoyable Bollywood action sequel starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor
Dabangg, released in 2010, introduced us to hyper-macho super-cop Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan), a sharply dressed unorthodox policeman living and working in rural northern India. The sequel, produced and directed by Arbaaz Khan (who also stars in both films as Pandey’s brother), follows our hero as he is transferred to the city of Kanpur, which is rife with new villains to conquer.
The tongue-in-cheek action that made the first film such a success (the fourth highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time on its release) is amped up here, with Pandey – referred to as ‘Kung Fu Pandey’ by one colleague – punching cars, booting bad guys and leaving a trail of bullets and bodies in his wake. In this hyper-kinetic world, the elements of Bollywood that might normally leave the casual viewer cold – the song-and-dance routines, the soap opera acting – actually fall into place quite seamlessly. Dabangg 2 even improves upon the first film, dispensing with that movie’s slightly sour attitudes about a woman’s worth in favour of a more modern approach. Okay, so Pandey reminding his wife Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha) that she’s not a slave is hardly The Female Eunuch, but it’s progress nonetheless.
In fact, the only thing weighing against Dabangg 2 is its dramatic ambition: the second act contains some genuinely shocking moments with real emotional heft, which could have been show-stopping in a more considered film but seem out of place in the crash-bang-wallop world of Kung Fu Pandey. Thankfully, the movie recovers its sense of silliness for the final reel: the ultimate boss battle rivals anything you might have seen in Zack Snyder’s similarly ludicrous 300, and the stage is set for yet more ridiculous Pandey adventures further down the line.
Selected release from Fri 21 Dec.