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Veer‘s historical setting is just window dressing for a typical Salman Khan film.
The movie’s action begins in 1862 in Rajputana (now Rajasthan), before the birth of the title character. The king of Madhavgarh aligns with the occupying British army, betraying the Pindari people and driving them from their homeland. The Pindari split up into smaller bands, biding their time until they can take their revenge on the king and the British.
Veer (Khan), son of one of the Pindari chiefs, grows up indoctrinated with his people’s desire for revenge. As young men, he and his younger brother, Punya (Sohail Khan), raid British trains for treasure. But with victory elusive, Chief Prithvi (Mithun Chakraborty) sends his sons to England to study British military tactics in university.
In England, Veer falls in love with an Indian princess, Yashodhara (Zarine Khan, no relation to Salman or Sohail). The brothers run into trouble with some of the wealthy Indian students at the university and must flee home, but not before they’ve learned valuable information that will finally help the Pindaris avenge their betrayal.
Veer shares much in common with other characters Salman Khan has played recently. He yells a lot, is irresistable to women and possesses superhuman strength. He can grab the blade of a sword midswing without getting his fingers lopped off, and the men he punches fly ten feet into the air. All of Khan’s recent characters are a grade school boy’s fantasy of idealized manhood.
The film’s immaturity increases with the presence of Sohail Khan, Salman’s younger brother, cast in what was surely an act of fraternal charity. Sohail’s Punya is the film’s comic relief, which feels inappropriate in a historical epic. But Punya muddles along the streets of Victorian England nonetheless, clumsily falling on pretty girls to the tune of “boing” sound effects.
The sound effects are just one example of the many ways Veer resists becoming the inspiring patriotic tale it should be. Instead of aiming for period authenticity in its costuming (at least during the scenes in England), the filmmakers used cheap costumes from the local Halloween store. Synthetic fabrics abound, Yashodhara wears hot pink nail polish and one of the English actresses has a visible tattoo on the back of her neck.
Those bits of sloppy execution are merely laughable, but a number of other errors hamper understanding. English subtitles in white text are often set against white backgrounds, and the subtitles disappear entirely at a few critical moments. It’s not clear in exactly which year the bulk of the action takes place, nor is it clear just how old Veer is. He’s likely in his early twenties, or about twenty years younger than Salman Khan’s real age of 44.
There’s a lack of attention to detail throughout Veer, as though audiences won’t care because it’s a “Salman Khan” film. If there’s one thing I hate as an audience member, it’s being taken for granted. Khan himself should’ve demanded better from a movie that he co-wrote.
Runtime: 2 hrs. 40 min.
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