Planet Bollywood
Producer: Sunil Sharma, Pratik Galani, Kamlesh Kumar
Director: Anil Sharma
Starring: Salman Khan , Mithun Chakraborty , Sohail Khan , Jackie Shroff , Bharat Dhabholkar , Zarine Khan , Neena Gupta
Music: Sajid-Wajid
Lyrics: Gulzar
Genre: Historic
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 22 January 2010
Reviewed by: Samir Dave  - Rating: 7.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Opinion Poll: Did Salman Khan live up to "VEER" expectations?

Ahh, I have grown my hair long and worked out my feeble biceps in order to stand tall with Sallu bhai as a barbarian! While some went for Aamir’s “Ghajini” hairdo, I have gone all out…even though I look rather ridiculous! Any other actor would look ridiculous as well, but Salman Khan has proven time and again that he can carry off a look like no other actor in Bollywood. He’s also perceived as the crazy guy with a heart, who tells it like it is…and of course, he is the beloved people’s champion!

Yet, to say that I was not looking forward to this film is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve followed Salman’s career for the last twenty plus years, and even have most of his movies on DVD (yes, that includes such “classics” as “Jaagruti”). So, I do appreciate his rather eclectic style of acting (or charismacting as I like to call it as it’s mostly charisma that holds the audiences attention). He’s had his moments though, and recently it seems that he’s been putting more of an effort into the films he is in.

Still, from the author of “Chandramukhi”, one doesn’t expect much. If you’ve seen that movie, I feel bad for you. If you haven’t, then you are one lucky soul. That movie came from Salman’s creative side and was a mish mash of the Hollywood film “Big” and every mystical mumbo jumbo Bollywood cliché you can think about. Oh, and did I mention that it also featured Sridevi?

So, when I heard that Salman had the story of “Veer” burning within his creative soul for decades, I at once shuddered and was curious. Would this film, be “Suryavanshi” part 2? If you recall, in that film, he famously said, “Goodbye, Namaste, Salaam…..Sat Shri Akal”, as he donned the barbarian costume and looked absolutely ridiculous.

Well, I grabbed on to my sword (no pun intended), and as the lights went down in the jam-packed theater I let out a barbaric yell in anticipation. Then the movie began and the crowd was (for the most part) mesmerized. There were cheers, some jeers, some laughter, and more. So read on, for the Planet Bollwood, action/reaction to “Veer”.

The concept of the film is based on Salman Khan in his avatar as a writer, but Shailesh Verma and Shaktimaan Talwar (dialogues) write the screenplay. Though the idea for the story/plot is intriguing the leaden pacing and dialogue hamper what could otherwise have been a gripping story. It’s not often that Bollywood is capable of producing a non-cheesy variety of period movie (with “Jodhaa Akbar” being a recent exception), and the story borders on campy at times, which isn’t helped by actors hamming up in certain scenes (Mr. Shroff, I speak of you). If there’s one thing that you can’t go wrong with, it’s bashing the British in apna films. There’s a built in cheer factor in any movie that covers that ground, and that is here as well. Added to that foundation is a love story between the children of two mortal enemies. Salman Khan is Veer; the barbaric yet cultured hero and rebel rouser hero of the Pindaris. Zarine Khan (who purely by chance, looks a bit like Katrina Kaif), plays Yashodhara, the daughter of the Pindaris hated (and stereotypically eeeeeeeevil) enemy Madavgarh (played by Jackie Shroff). Mithun Chakraborty is Veer’s dad, whose dishonor by Madavgarh has to be avenged by his heroic and muscular son.

The story takes the audience from the hallowed halls of London, to the blood soaked battles of India and in between is a bittersweet love story wrapped in a sweet roll crème gone bad. What were you expecting? A classic? No, “Veer” is not a classic, but it’s not that bad either. It’s got the right amount of masala to hold onto the viewer’s interest and cheer for Salman’s heroic avatar.

The film suffers not only with its labored screenplay, but also by the lackluster direction by Anil Sharma. Sharma (“Gadar”) is quite heavy handed and shows a lack of fluidity that hurts the choreography of the fight scenes (though that is not completely the director’s fault, but rather of his and the fight choreographer). The director also shows a distinct lack of ability in being able to bring forth the best from the cast. Jackie Shroff is decent, but in a non-threatening love to hate me kind of way. Mithun Chakraborty has a moment to shine, but I wish he had been given more to do. Sohail Khan is simply the court jester that he always is, though the actor has talent if given the right kind of director. Zarine Khan, is a better actor than Katrina Kaif in terms of expressiveness, but is hindered by her having her dialogue dubbed by another actress, which always takes away from a performance.

Now, let’s get to Salman Khan. His performance is not perfect, but his acting’s flawed facets that pull the viewer into the character he is portraying. The silver screen sizzles every time he appears, and he is able to make one believe that he is the title character. It’s not a performance that will win awards for best actor, but it is one of his best and one that will appeal to a lot of people as the hero who will win no matter what the odds. Many critics love to trash him, but no one can deny that the man has a lot of charisma, and is able to carry off revenge tales like no other.

The music by Sajid-Wajid is beautiful and engaging, with the highlights being “Taali” and “Surili Akiyon Wale”. The melodies are beautiful (with mood setting lyrics by famed poet Gulzar) as is the musical arrangement (very tricky with a period film as you have to be careful that the instruments fit in with the time period). Monty Sharma composes a thrilling background score, which should be released as an album that could stand on its own. The cinematography by Gopal Shah shows an adept hand at using the right kind of film filters to emphasize the moods of varying scenes. The fight choreography Tinu Verma is interesting when focusing on Salman, but sloppy when focusing on the larger soldier (army) clashing scenes.

So what’s the final say? The movie is better than a lot of films that Bollywood has released, but doesn’t rise to any form of excellence. Salman Khan has to be respected for putting so much into a genre that doesn’t always do well at the box office and it takes guts for the producers to spend so much money on a film that has so much going against it even before it was released. Yet, the film should be given a chance to live or die on its own sword (merits). It’s enjoyable, with a performance by Salman that will thrill the audiences, and irritate the would be thespians providing critiques. “Veer” is a flawed but entertaining film that is more enjoyable than it has a right to be, just don’t go in expecting a richly classy film that emphasizes substance over style and you won’t be disappointed. The film is crassly entertaining…and certainly paisa vasool. As the gladiators used to say, those who live by the sword die by the sword, and so it is Salman’s fans that will prove that the sword is mightier than the critic’s pens (or keyboards).

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