“Manne pehlwani zaroor chodi hai par ladna nahi bhula” (I might have retired from wrestling, but haven’t forgotten to fight) … A real fighter fights in real life and overcomes all the hurdles life throws at him and wins. Sultan’s summary can be captured in this one line dialogue when he after years of sabbatical from wrestling goes back to train for Mixed Martial Arts and is met with a slap on his face when the trainer tells him, “I don’t train dead people.” One maybe down but one is never out, unless one looses in his head. This captures the essence of the plot and Salman Khan’s latest Eid release … SULTAN!
Movies are supposed to be a reflection of reality or they can be inspiring stories (true or fictitious), Sultan definitely falls in the latter category. The plot is Simple – just like the village folk of Haryana, the character Straightforward – like the Jaat community, the treatment Rustic – like the villages! The tempo is set from the start where Salman Khan (Bhai for a lot of us) enters the ring with 10 wrestlers and the only sequence where he shows his signature Bhai style. His characterisation can be summarized in a scene when he stops his scooter at a railway crossing to let the train pass (very unlike the bhai cycling across the track in Kick). The transformation from a simple guy who falls in love with a woman of his dreams to the most successful wrestler of his country, to a failed father and husband and back on his feet to fight the biggest martial artists of the world, is very tightly wound and the director has made sure the audience don’t get up even for popcorn, lest they miss this fast paced sports thriller. His folding hands in respect to any fighter he defeats, definitely shows the soft hearted character Sultan is and how among the blood and sweat of wrestling, his love is what keeps him going. Salman has had a larger than life persona in his recent movies, but with Bajrangi Bhaijaan we have seen how other actors have bloomed next to him, be it Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Bajrangi or Randeep Hooda now in Sultan or Anant Sharma as Sultan’s best friend!
As for Sultan’s look, Salman has perfected the look of a pot bellied “Desi” wrestler and is miles away from the chiselled body he has displayed in the his previous outings. He looks like an average guy and has impressively curbed his own persona which used to overshadow all other actors and movie scripts. A commendable job and Bhai’s way of telling us that he knows what the audience want from him.
Sequences rule the film, and whether it is the first time Sultan trains to be a wrestler or after the interval when Randeep Hooda trains him, both sequences are inspiring as well as grounded. The action sequences with the Martial artists are definitely not to be missed, since most of Sultan’s opponents are real fighters. The fights in the rings are nail-biting and devoid of any histrionics or very the top action. The sequence when Sultan lifts a tractor as if it is part of his every day job, or when he looks himself in the mirror and sees an out of shape wrestler are what brings out the both the simplicity and the determination of the character. I could go on about the sequences but would not like to post spoilers, just saying that you would take them home with you, not because it is Salman Khan but because they have been detailed out well with a heavy dose of melodrama. The training sequences do remind you of other boxing movies, especially Rocky, but then good movies do have a lot in common.
The Haryanvi accent and the body language make this tale humorous in parts and the term “Jaat” has been used as a compliment more than once. A Jaat never gives up no matter what, and neither does Sultan. Anushkha Sharma as Aarfa has portrayed the character of a female Jaat wrestler to perfection. Sultan’s love interest, his inspiration, his wife and then his reason to fight has been depicted flawlessly by Anushkha. Few of Salman’s heroines stand up to his persona and she definitely is one of them who calls him a Shit Guy (read sitga), of course you can translate that in Hindi like Sultan and his friend does.
Anant Sharma as Govind is the reason the plot does not get too melodramatic. The Haryanvi accent and mannerisms perfect he effectively delivers a punch (no pun intended) as Sultan’s best friend, confidante, BRO and even his ring side aide. Amit Sadh after Kai Po Che looks promising and mature and supports Salman well in the scene. Kumud Mishra (canteen owner from Rockstar) as the Akhaara (wrestling Gym) owner and Sultan’s dad-in-law has some great sequences and is ever dependable. He has portrayed emotions of both a father and a guru by remaining silent in a lot of sequences that you end up feeling for the guy. Randeep Hooda who is being constantly seen in Bhai’s movie is a class apart. An ex martial artist and owner of an underground gym in “sadi purani dilli” (Old Delhi) he has once again proved why he is a class apart when it comes to any role thrown at him.
Sultan is a straightforward movie with no twists, high on emotions and a true masala potboiler with some real MMA fighters to add spice. It is a movie straight from the heart from Ali Abbas Zafar and some great music by Julius Packam. The background score of Sultan definitely is inspiring, much like the “eye of the tiger” from Rocky. You might be a Bhai fan, you might love him or you might love to hate him … but Sultan you cannot avoid. You will be going to see it and as Bhai says in the movie, “Jahan Pyaar zyada hota hai wahan ladayi bhi zyada hoti hai”…… Eid Mubarak!