Sultan: A waste of time and money

Published: July 14, 2016 - 15:21 Updated: July 14, 2016 - 15:22

Misbah Khan Delhi

‘Sultan’ is breaking box-office records. The movie, Salman Khan’s Eid release this year, has already earned Rs 310 crores in its first week. It is a romantic, pseudo-action drama; the story is loosely based on wrestling and MMA, but focuses more on the relationship between Sultan, the character played by Salman Khan, and Aarfa, played by Anushka Sharma.

Much has been made of how hard Salman Khan had to work on his body, gaining and losing weight for different shots, but his efforts in this respect were marred by the insensitive comparison drawn by the actor between his post-workout fatigue and a rape victim’s physical trauma. This predictably sent a cyclone of criticism his way, in response to which the apology came not from Bhai himself but from his father, Salim Khan, who has made a hobby of speaking on his delinquent son’s behalf.

The movie kicks off with Salman Khan playing a happy go lucky 30 year old cable operator who resides in the bucolic town of Rewari, Haryana, content with chasing kites which have been cut during the local kite flying competitions. Things take a turn when he meets Aarfa, a spunky female wrestler who one day dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal. Sultan is instantly smitten and starts chasing her around town like a dog chases a tennis ball. Rebuked by Aarfa for being a talentless roadside romeo, Sultan decides that the only way he will win the affections of his lady love is by becoming a wrestler himself. The logic he states for this is:  “Doctor ki saadi doctor se howe, engineer ki engineer se, toh pehelwan ki saadi toh pehelwan se hi hogi na.” By this logic a bus driver should only marry a bus driver?

After a couple of Rocky-inspired montages where Sultan buffs up by ploughing a field and outrunning a steam locomotive, he quickly becomes the state champion. It is at this juncture that the movie derails faster than an Indian railways train driven by a drunk driver. Sultan quickly knocks up Aarfa, which results in Aarfa deciding to give up a dream that she has chased all her life. In a matter of a few scenes Aarfa goes from a woman with her own dreams, hopes and aspirations to just another Bollywood heroine, content to play second fiddle to the man in her life.

What makes things completely unintelligible is the fact that Aarfa decides to leave Sultan just because he was not around for his son’s birth and was instead out there somewhere winning a Gold medal. Due to Sultan’s utterly lackadaisical attitude towards parenting his son dies for want of blood. His wife not only resents his parenting skills (or lack thereof) but also his ambition which at the beginning of the movie was a huge turn on for Aarfa but suddenly makes Sultan repulsive. What is poor Sultan to do? Perhaps mope around and drive a battered scooter to work.

The leaps of logic in the movie are also hard to swallow. Sultan is shown to be an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler who goes from earning crores of rupees to being so broke that he has to ask his office colleagues for donations so that he can build a blood bank. Maybe the director should have inserted a scene that showed Sultan going to Las Vegas and blowing up all his winnings on hookers and cocaine to explain his financial penury. Also somewhere in the climax of this awfully long film, which feels like it was edited by Ashutosh Gowariker’s team, Sultan decides to fight with broken ribs against a trained MMA champion. Either Sultan is the illegitimate son of Wolverine, with adamantium flowing through his veins, or this is one of those Salman Khan movies in which Bhai can do anything. My bet is on the latter.

The best part of the movie remains the CGI shots of Salman Khan’s abs.