Movie Review: Sultan (2016)
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Genre: Drama (Sports-Drama)
Cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Anant Vidhaat Sharma, Kumud Mishra, with Amit Sadh, and Randeep Hooda as Fateh Singh
Writer: Ali Abbas Zafar
Rating: 3.7/5 stars
O re, Sultan! Those are the words along with the infectious background score that echoes at crucial junctures in the latest Salman Khan starrer, and that’s the sentiment with which you walk out after the film is over. Sultan is the kind of film that goes easy on you at the start, you won’t get your hopes up but you’ll also enjoy the breezy entertainment that unfolds on screen, and then gradually, steadily, it keeps growing on you till you can’t help but lap up every emotion, every dialogue, every punch, every kick, every cry of pain, and every shout of triumph with open arms.
It’s the dialogues, inspiringly emotional story, Salman Khan’s inescapable onscreen charm, and Anushka Sharma’s knockout performance that are the real victors here. The narrative is something you’ll guess from miles away, but it’s the treatment and moving dialogues that completely bowl you over. Salman, who plays Sultan Ali Khan (for those still living on the moon), is a 30-year old, carefree guy, with no ambitions in life other than enjoying each day as it comes. During one such jovial incident, he bumps into Aarfa (Anushka Sharma) by accident, and falls head-over-heels in love. After a few innocent pranks to win her over, she starts warming up to him, and at this point you think you’ve seen it all before but Salman’s mischievous nature and Anushka’s perfect Haryanvi diction and no-nonsense outlook to life is keeping you mildly engaged.
Until one day, when she blatantly refuses his advances and insults him for his happy-go-lucky outlook, and you realize that Sultan has something deeper in store than a run-of-the-mill love story against a wrestling backdrop. When she tells Salman that she cannot love a man she can’t respect, and his onscreen dad explains him that the path to respect more often than not is through disrespect, you get ready to buckle in, and be swept up in a good story that’s beginning to scratch the surface. Dialogues like these are peppered throughout the movie, lending it that meaningful punch that packs an even bigger impact than Sultan’s in-ring punches.
From here on, Sultan takes stock of his life, and his meteoric rise to the top, couple with training and fight scenes that deliver several knockout punches are a treat to the eyes. He gains respect, he gets the love of his life, he wins all that there is to win, and you thoroughly enjoy the roller-coaster ride through the first half, only to realize that Director and writer Ali Abbas Zafar (his best work by some distance) is not done tapping into your emotions just yet. Sultan’s respect and honor, which he fought so hard to achieve, turns into arrogance, and this transition is shown with brilliant control and fluidity because of both the trajectory of the plot and Salman’s magnetic appeal. If you thought that Bajrangi Bhaijaan was his best till date, then you’ve seen nothing yet. Given his meatiest role to date, Salman chews every frame he’s in, and you can’t help but be won over by his innocence and spirit. Where his accent and mannerisms falter, his energy and attitude with which he portrays the character keeps winning you over. The final scenes, where he fights back for his love, respect, and also humility, is something straight out of the handbook of how to captivate an audience. Salman makes sure that no one will walk out of the theater without a smile on their face.
If Salman is attitude personified, then Anushka proves yet again why she’s one of our most versatile actresses going around today. Forget her impeccable diction that never once leaves her character, it’s her silence that speaks volumes. Scenes in which she breaks down or motivates Salman again leave you transfixed at her potential to steal the show even in front of superstars. And to Salman and the makers’ credit, she’s no mere prop in the film. Randeep Hooda and Amit Sadh are serviceable in their minor roles.
A word for the music too. For once, the songs in a Salman film aren’t used as breaks from the plot but take the plot forward. Even the Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai track is brilliantly integrated, and the title track will give you nothing short of goosebumps. The editing could have been crisper and there are quite a few scenes that demand suspension of your belief, like an MMA fighter eating regular food or a washed-up wrestler mastering MMA moves within six weeks, and then besting pro fighters. But, like we mentioned earlier, you can’t help but flow along with the emotions of the film and ignore such logical loopholes along the way.
Can a 40-year old local wrestler become an MMA champ? Probably not. But, then again, stranger things happen in sports, stranger than movie scripts too. Muhammad Ali when his third championship belt when no one gave him a whimper of a chance. And, while watching Sultan, you can’t help but not bother about such trivialities. You’ll laugh and cry and feel sad and exalt in joy at the character’s journey. You won’t be able to restrain yourself from clapping and cheering him on (After ages we witnessed an entire theater clapping at several points in the movie.). Sultan is a perfect commercial entertainer and a brilliantly packaged holiday treat. It’s not just a movie, it’s an Eid event that Salman has gifted his fans and neutral moviegoers alike.
Images Source: Yash Raj Films
This review first appeared on