Salman Khan in Sultan is a gentle, middle-aged giant. He raises funds for good causes, helps out people in trouble, and goes out of his way to make life easier for everyone around him. Instead of that trademark on-screen cockiness, here he is world-weary. A hint of sadness never too far from his eyes; not even when he smiles.
Aarfa (Anushka Sharma), a wrestler, changes all that. Her spirit captivates Sultan. So much so that he takes up wrestling just so he can be close to her. Stalking, it seems, will forever be a staple of Indian movies. The beefy Sultan puts those massive shoulders to good use in local tournaments and it’s not long before we get to see an Air India flight take off with Aarfa and Sultan ensconced in it. The romance takes off at hyper speed as well from here.
After all that posturing about wanting to win an Olympic Gold, Aarfa’s sudden desire to submit to a conventional life is puzzling, but sadly, not unexpected. From here on, there’s little for Aarfa to do, except cheer Salman Khan from the sidelines.
Despite the omnipresence of the usual bhai film requisites (high-octane stunts and close-up shots of pecs), Sultan is different from the usual Salman Khan film. In the guise of showing us a middle-aged wrestler out to prove his worth, the film allows us to glimpse the many travails that have afflicted Salman Khan of late. With lines like “I am trying to make amends / My real fight is to earn back my respect”, director Ali Abbas Zafar gives the film emotional heft; and a sneak peek into the psyche of Salman, the man.
The veracity and justifiability of the film’s dialogues can be debated endlessly, but the bottomline is that the strikes a chord with its depiction of a stripped bare Salman (no pun intended). This Salman has a paunch, and eye bags, and is a far, far cry from the picture-perfect Salman in Prem. Here, he has to prove himself against men who are younger and faster than him. It’s easily an allegory on Salman Khan’s real life issues.
The music is zany with loud and upbeat songs. ‘Jag Ghoomiya’, in particular, riveting. Another plus is the soaring background score; Vishal-Shekhar have made some really good music here. The supporting cast of Anant Sharma and Randeep Hooda turn in convincing performances.
Four years ago, I watched Ali Abbas Zafar’s Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Without the presence of Katrina Kaif and Imran Khan, the film would have been uninspiring. It’s the same with Sultan. Without the star wattage of its lead pair, the allegorical resonance with Salman Khan’s own life, and the backing of Yash Raj Films, this would have been another run-of-the-mill story about an underdog wrestler who wins against the odds.
The Sultan 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.