Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

January 22, 2010

Veer clear!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 1:15 am

January 22, 2010

Cast: Salman Khan, Mithun Chakraborty, Jackie Shroff, Sohail Khan, Zarine Khan

Director: Anil Sharma

Even if you’re willing to forgive all the historical inaccuracies and the complete disregard for detail, Veer starring Salman Khan, is still an impossible film to appreciate.

Set in the late 19th century – although dates in no way correspond with costumes, language or even age and appearance of actors – this Anil Sharma-directed clunker is the story of a Rajputana warrior clan, the Pindharis, who swear revenge on the King of Madhavgarh (played by Jackie Shroff) after he joins hands with the British and cheats the Pindharis of their land and deceitfully slaughters their men.

The head of the tribe, Prithvi Singh (played by Mithun Chakraborty), sends his sons Veer and Punya (played by Salman and Sohail Khan) to study in London to become familiar with the British game-plan for their country. But as often happens in most unoriginal Hindi films, once there Veer falls for the princess of Madhavgarh and the daughter of his tribe’s sworn enemy Yashodhara (played by overfed debutante Zarine Khan). ((pause)) Scripted by Salman Khan himself, Veer suffers from formulaic overkill. There is just so much contrived jabber-jabber you can take about defending your honour, about duty versus love, and about drinking the blood of the British. The film’s director, Anil Sharma, may have touched a chord with a similarly jingoistic approach in his Sunny Deol-starrer Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, but in Veer the chest-thumping melodrama appears mechanical and excessive.

The film’s action is visceral with several blood-splattered slaughter scenes, but often runs the risk of coming off as ridiculous. A Gladiator-style duel ends with Salman literally twisting a man’s head 360 degrees around, and there’s another one in which he yanks out a rival’s insides with his bare hands.

The film also suffers on account of too many songs that don’t take the narrative forward, including one in which Neena Gupta jiggles and wiggles and heaves her bosom suggestively at the entire Pindhari clan including her grown-up sons who dance along merrily.

Much of the film’s first half holds up because there’s conviction even in the stupidity. You may find it hard to believe that one man can single-handedly fight an armed gang, but Salman and his director dive into the most preposterous scenes unblinkingly.

The film, then is watchable for Salman Khan’s arresting screen presence, his charming romantic overtures, and a degree of involvement from him that you haven’t seen before. Unfortunately, what lets Veer down in the end is the fact that it overstays its welcome. At almost two hours and forty minutes, it’s way more than you can handle on an evening out. It doesn’t help that key parts are filled by weak actors like Sohail Khan, Puru Raaj Kumar and Aryan Vaid who rob the film of any shred of credibility it might have otherwise earned.

There’s unintentional humour to be found in abundance here, especially in the track involving Jackie Shroff’s character who after losing an upper-limb to an angry Pindhari, sports a gold forearm complete with rings and diamond bracelet, which our hero tugs off in a later scene.

I’m going with two out of five for director Anil Sharma’s Veer. Watch it if you’re a die-hard Salman fan. It’s an epic-sized period film with tacky special effects.

Unacceptable in these times. From Cameron’s Pandora to Anil Sharma’s Pindhari, we’ve come a long way baby!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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