Before we talk about Pawan Kalyan’s Sardaar Gabbar Singh, let’s backtrack for a moment to Baahubali. Two weeks ago, it became the first Telugu film to win Best Picture in the National Awards’ 64-year old history. With this film, the Telugu film industry has been basking. A movie from their industry has won rave reviews, tasted great success, and hasn’t become a ‘Tollywood joke’. Stupid stunts, ‘jhatang’ costumes, jack-in-the-box timing of numerous dance numbers? Pass.
Unfortunately, at this important juncture, this moment of reckoning, this potential turning point in Tollywood, one of its biggest stars, Pawan Kalyan, has made Sardaar Gabbar Singh. A film that is every Tollywood masala movie cliché rolled into one.
What’s more, Pawan Kalyan recently told an interviewer that it took him years to write the script for this movie. Honestly, anyone who watches Tollywood films could have come up with this script in seconds. Sardaar Gabbar Singh has the stock hero, the stock villain, and the stock heroine. They come together in a stock predictable plot with all the other stock supporting characters. It’s a formula that leaves everyone, even those who dutifully chant ‘Jai Pawan Kalyan’, breathless from sheer repetition.
Pawan Kalyan plays Sardaar Gabbar Singh. A loving tribute to Amjad Khan’s character in Sholay. Kalyan carries rifles and machine guns. Why? So he can shoot incessantly at anything and everything. For instance, in one scene someone asks him his name. Now he can’t just say it. Of course not. So, he sprays bullets on a wall with his machine gun. The pockmarks spell out his name. Classy, eh? What really evokes wonder is the idea of someone writing such a grandiose story about themselves, with dialogues that only praise them. Like a fantasy-driven autobiography.
Kajal Aggarwal plays the damsel in distress. Everyone in the film either has to be in distress, or causing the distress. Nobody can be brave and suave. That’s for the hero, Pawan Kalyan. Kajal has been given one important task: dress beautifully and look enchanted by Pawan Kalyan’s charm. And, boy, she does a fine job of it.
Sharad Kelkar plays Bhairav Singh, the mining baron who terrorises the town of Rattanpur. He delivers his lines with a constipated expression and a heavy baritone. The one every Tollywood villain has.
There are guns, many of them. In fact, that’s one nonexistent award this film could bag. Most guns shown, and most bullets fired in a film. And let’s not forget the stock stunts. Goons thrown in the air, or thrown to the ground, they all raise the dust for a mile around. Also, carts with vegetables, rice, and flowers somehow find themselves in the middle of the showdown.
But guess what? The flower shower is reserved for the hero.
The plot never bothers with logic. The princess falls for a man who grabs her waist and asks her to marry him. The second time they meet. An inspector in an obscure village has a massive range of pistols, grenades, and rifles. Cases are slapped against Sardaar, the media scrupulously follows him. Yet, he can challenge whoever he wants with no repercussions. He has a second showdown in the centre of the town, and walks away scot-free in the end. How? Guess.
This is what the screenplay does. It stacks up scene after scene which tells the audience over and over that Pawan Kalyan is the bestestestestest hero of all time. Just when you hope that this is finally ending, he engages in a ‘dance battle’ with a set of goons, where he tries to imitate his brother Chiranjeevi’s dance moves.
Some movies make us forget reality, and leave us absorbed in their story. Sardaar Gabbar Singh reminds us over and over again that the ‘star’ is bigger than everything else – even the movie.
The Sardaar Gabbar Singh review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.