Tag Archives: Salman Khan

Movie Review: Tiger Zinda Hai (2017)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Tiger Zinda Hai (“Tiger Lives“) has its share of highlights, but the relentless plot requires a degree of stamina that would challenge any action movie enthusiast. Quick transitions from one set piece to the next allow little space for story or character development.

Set eight years after the events of Ek Tha Tiger, Salman Khan’s titular hero and his then-girlfriend-now-wife Zoya (Katrina Kaif) live in Austria with their son, Junior. The novelty of seeing Khan play a father onscreen is noteworthy, owing to its rarity.

Though Tiger and Zoya are retired from active duty, they haven’t left the spy life behind entirely. Zoya keeps her combat skills sharp by subduing armed robbers in the local grocery store, and Tiger confidently fights a pack of wolves while snowboarding. He has a room dedicated to tracking the activities of Indian intelligence agency RAW across the globe.

Thus, he’s not surprised when his former boss Shenoy (Girish Karnad) comes to him with an urgent mission: Islamic militants captured twenty-five Indian nursing students working in Iraq, and America has given India seven days to rescue their people before they bomb the hospital where the students are being held.

Zoya knows that Tiger’s love of country surpasses even his love for her and Junior, so she sends him on his mission without complaint. What they don’t know is that the Indian authorities neglected to tell them that fifteen Pakistani nurses are also being held in the same hospital. Tiger’s not the only one to get called out of retirement.

Tiger Zinda Hai‘s cynicism about politics is its most interesting attribute. As in the original film, the main couple personify the idea that Indians and Pakistanis have more in common than not, and that it’s the fault of the governments of both countries for pursuing agendas that make peace impossible. The members of Zoya’s and Tiger’s support teams also come to see the wisdom of working together toward shared goals, a tactic they wish could be applied across borders to improve things like education and healthcare on the subcontinent.

The sequel’s story expands that cynicism globally to indict America for what is deemed to be imperialism in the Middle East, chiefly the greedy pursuits of oil and lucrative weapons contracts cloaked under the guise of the eradication of terrorism. Abu Usman (Sajjad Delafrooz) — the leader of the terrorist group in Tiger Zinda Hai — cites his years in detention at Guantanamo Bay as the very reason for his radicalization.

Unfortunately, these political ideas aren’t woven into the plot, instead existing as meta-commentary directing the audience on how they can find their own kind of woke nationalism. Zoya’s and Tiger’s teams shed their instinctive mistrust of one another within minutes. Most of the criticism of America arises from conversations between Abu Usman and Poorna (Anupriya Goenka), the head nurse, but as supporting characters, the plot doesn’t devote much time to their character growth.

Then again, none of the characters in the movie really grow. Tiger is what he is: a patriotic humanitarian killing machine. Not that there’s anything wrong with such a character; it’s just a question of how much time can an audience be asked to spend with a character that reacts but doesn’t evolve.

The answer to that question is: something less than Tiger Zinda Hai‘s lengthy 161-minute runtime. Apart from one romantic song early in the movie — before Tiger leaves his family and we bid adieu to Junior for most of the film — the plot races through each action sequence, followed by a brief break to set up the next action sequence. After a while, all the explosions and fisticuffs become too much of a good thing.

Yet, when it is good, Tiger Zinda Hai is pretty fun. All of the movie’s best moments belong to Katrina Kaif, and she proves herself to be a compelling action hero in her own right. From her stunt-driving through narrow alleyways to her own one-woman-wrecking-crew takedown of a bunch of bad guys, Kaif commands the screen.

Khan is no slouch when it comes to fight sequences, of course, and his obligatory shirtless scene is a hoot. His sidekicks have little to do, raising questions as to how that can be the case given how long the movie is. Delafrooz’s relaxed demeanor makes him an effective villain.

One personal complaint is that Tiger Zinda Hai cuts corners by casting non-Americans in American roles, leading to some head-scratching accents. Also unintentionally hilarious is the fact that one of the American military officers in Iraq has his first name — Gary — written on his name tag on his uniform. Gary zinda hai!

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Movie Review: Tubelight (2017)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Much of the critical consensus around Little Boy — the 2015 American movie upon which Tubelight is based — condemns the movie as an offensive form of religious chauvinism. Armed with that foreknowledge, I expected Tubelight to be a disaster. Thankfully, it is not. Though flawed, it’s an enjoyable and touching examination of the lives of loved ones left behind during times of war.

Tubelight resets Little Boy‘s story from World-War-II-era California to the small mountain town of Jagatpur in far northern India during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Americans can be forgiven for not remembering this conflict, as it happened at the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Tubelight also recasts the titular “little boy” from the original film with 51-year-old Salman Khan. Khan plays Laxman, a mentally handicapped adult whose nickname “Tubelight” refers to the long time it takes for him to catch on to concepts. His younger brother Bharat (Sohail Khan, Salman’s actual younger brother) is his bodyguard and cheerleader, encouraging Laxman to believe in himself, even if no one else does. The pair feature in a song number about brotherly love made awkward by the siblings’ stiff dance moves.

The most uncomfortable aspect of Tubelight is the degree to which the town condones the bullying of Laxman. Young and old alike feel free to laugh at Laxman for even minor gaffes, and everyone seems okay with this. It’s sad.

Besides Bharat, Laxman’s only defenders are kindly Maya (Isha Talwar) and scholarly Banne (Om Puri). It falls on them to look after Laxman when border tensions between India and China inspire Bharat to enlist. As the conflict escalates, Laxman struggles with his loneliness and inability to bring Bharat home.

In order to keep Laxman busy, Banne encourages him to practice living by Gandhi’s principles, such as conquering fear and loving one’s enemies. Laxman thinks doing so will increase the strength of his belief, thereby empowering him to will his brother’s return. He puts Gandhi’s values into action when a widowed mother named Liling (Zhu Zhu) and her young son Guo (Matin Rey Tangu) move into a house on the outskirts of town. Though Indian by birth, their Chinese ethnicity marks them as outcasts. Laxman overcomes his own trepidation to befriend the little boy, earning him the ire of many townsfolk.

The indulgence by Banne and other villagers of Laxman’s fantasy that he can change things if he just believes hard enough feels wrong. Laxman isn’t a child who will one day come to understand that people were humoring him. He simply isn’t capable. Liling is the only person who reasons with Laxman honestly, trying to explain things in terms he can grasp. She stresses that bad things don’t happen because of a lack of faith, and that self-belief is important for its own merits, not because it can work miracles.

Moments like the conversation between Liling and Laxman give Tubelight authenticity. While Laxman may be particularly ill-equipped to handle something as horrible as war, everyone feels helpless when their loved ones are in danger. For all his intellectual shortcomings, Laxman is quicker to appreciate the distinction between individuals and governments than the rest of Jagatpur. He sees Guo and Liling for who they are, not as representatives of some hostile foreign power.

Such surface-level hatred is personified by the town bully, Narayan (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). He’s an effective villain because his racism and xenophobia are reflexive and just understated enough that people are willing to follow him. He hears that a Chinese family has moved to town, and his instinct is to attack them. The speed with which he reacts makes it seem as though it is the natural way to react. It’s chilling.

Little Matin Rey Tangu is charming as Salman’s sidekick. They share a funny scene in which Laxman confesses his lies, only to run away before he can face the consequences. Zhu Zhu gives a solid performance, and watching her dance is a treat. Om Puri and Sohail Khan are great in a scene in which they discuss how Laxman will cope without Bharat.

Salman is overall pretty good, but he’s at his best during moments of heightened emotions, such as when Laxman is afraid for his brother or when he’s protecting Guo. His earnestness drives home the importance of rejecting racism and xenophobia as a way to free ourselves from fear and spread peace.

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Bollywood Box Office: June 23-25, 2017

Salman Khan’s Tubelight debuted in second place in the United States among new Indian movies, behind Allu Arjun’s Telugu film DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham! Salman squeaked out victory in North America overall thanks to the contributions of theaters in Canada — where DJ didn’t even release. From June 23-25, 2017, Bollywood Hungama reports that Tubelight earned $926,816 from 372 North American theaters ($2,491 average; adjusted average of $2,710 from 342 theaters*). Of that total, $169,344 came from 30 Canadian theaters, amounting to 18% of the total earnings from just 8% of the total theaters (342). Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru reports North American earnings of $930,058 from 338 theaters ($2,752 average) for Tubelight. That total was good enough to rank in 14th place at the overall North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

It’s easy to forget that the notion of Salman as a box office gold mine is a recent development in North America. Until the blockbuster performance of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the summer of 2015, none of Salman’s films managed to earn more than $2.5 million here. Tubelight should earn around $2 million over the course of its run, putting it in line with the earnings of his releases from 2011-2014 — movies like Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, and Kick. We’ll have to wait until Tiger Zinda Hai releases this Christmas to see if Salman’s superb (if short) string of hits is really over.

DJ: Duvvada Jagannadham took in $873,249 from 190 US theaters ($4,596 average), 15th place overall at the North American box office.

Other Hindi movies still showing in the US:

  • Hindi Medium: Week 6; $9,228 from five theaters; $1,846 average; $773,477 total
  • Baahubali 2: Week 9; $726 from three theaters; $242 average; $20,786,308 total

*Bollywood Hungama frequently counts Canadian theaters twice in when they report figures for a film’s first few weeks of release. When possible, I verify theater counts at Box Office Mojo, but I use Bollywood Hungama as my primary source because they provide a comprehensive and consistent — if flawed — data set.

Sources: Box Office Guru, Box Office Mojo, and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: July 8-10, 2016

Salman Khan’s Sultan made a ton of money in North America — so much so that it finished in tenth place overall on the domestic charts. During its opening weekend of July 8-10, 2016, it earned $2,327,779 from 309 theaters ($7,533 average). Add to that the $1,012,086 it earned from Wednesday and Thursday (Sultan released on July 6), and Sultan‘s five-day total stands at $3,339,865 in the United States and Canada. That puts its five-day average at $10,809 per theater.

Salman’s movies always do exceptionally well in Canada, and Sultan continued that trend. Even though Canadian theaters accounted for only 8% of the total number of theaters (26 of 309), they contributed 18% to the total gross ($617,134 over five days). That puts the five-day per-screen average for those Canadian theaters at $23,736, versus a $9,621 five-day average in US theaters.

So, does Sultan stand a chance of becoming the highest grossing Hindi film of all time in North America? Probably not. First of all, its five-day total was less than what PK and Dhoom 3 earned in their first three days ($3,508,980 and $3,422,590, respectively). Second, its IMDb rating (currently 7.4) falls well short of PK‘s (8.3) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s (8.1) — though admittedly it could increase — hinting that perhaps Sultan isn’t as beloved as some other blockbusters. Both PK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan went on to triple their first-weekend earnings. I confess that I’m not exactly sure how multipliers work for Wednesday releases, but lets assume that Sultan follows suit. A tripling of its first weekend numbers would put its total at $6,983,337. Even adding in its Wednesday and Thursday earnings only puts its total at $7,995,423 — placing it behind PK ($10,550,569), Bajrangi Bhaijaan ($8,114,714), and Dhoom 3 ($8,090,250). Sultan‘s second weekend returns will give a clearer picture of its box office longevity. But c’mon. Almost $8 million would still be a freaking lot of money!

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Udta Punjab: Week 4; $12,005 from ten theaters; $1,201 average; $1,226,557 total
  • Housefull 3: Week 6; $83 from one theater; $1,322,753 total
  • Raman Raghav 2.0: Week 3; $28 from one theater; $75,681 total
  • Dhanak: Week 4; $24 from one theater; $12,374 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Sultan (2016)

Sultan3 Stars (out of 4)

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Casting Salman Khan in a film brings baggage and expectations along with his sizeable fan base. Those attendant factors are evident in the story of Sultan, written and directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and produced by Aditya Chopra. The title role requires Salman to play a part unlike the one he typically plays, but the movie never quite allows you to forget that you’re watching Salman Khan.

Rather than opening with Salman’s character Sultan, the film begins with the financial troubles of a failing Indian mixed martial arts league. The league founder, Aakash (Amit Sadh, who deserves more attention in Bollywood), lacked the foresight to include any Indian fighters in his Indian fighting league, and he gets six months to boost audience interest before his investors pull the plug.

Aakash’s dad weirdly touts the superiority of Indian moral values before recalling an impressive wrestler named Sultan he saw up north about eight years ago. Aakash heads to Haryana, only to find that his father’s legendary wrestler is now a pot-bellied forty-something working a desk job at the water department.

Sultan’s friend Govind (the reliable Anant Sharma) gives Aakash the scoop on why his buddy quit wrestling. The flashback showing Sultan’s sporting career and his romance with fellow wrestler Aarfa (Anushka Sharma) is the most typical Salman Khan portion of the film. Young Sultan is an aimless prankster who’s nevertheless beloved by all, with no marriage prospects even though he’s “pushing thirty.” He meets Aarfa, who smacks him around for bumping into her, and immediately falls in love with her beauty and spunky attitude. She says she’s not interested, but he pursues her anyway.

This flashback section — which takes up the first hour — is the worst part of the film. Salman is long past the age where he can convincingly play a brat. His attempts to keep up with the younger cast members either in a footrace or on the dance floor make him look slow and heavy. Sultan’s father’s grey hair can’t disguise the fact that the two men look more like brothers than father and son.

The flashback seems designed to reassure ardent Salman fans who prefer him in this avatar before the un-Salman-like plot turns to come. Salman’s celluloid enemies are almost always external, be they villains or just obstacles in his way. Salman’s characters are morally perfect from the get go, so no character growth is required to conquer said obstacles.

Not so in Sultan. Aarfa calls Sultan out for being a presumptuous deadbeat, prompting him to realize the he needs to work to win not only the respect of others, but also himself. He pours his heart into wrestling and becomes a champion, but success brings other pitfalls. Sultan fails to appreciate the difference between confidence and arrogance, resulting in a tragedy for which he is solely responsible.

When present-day Sultan joins Aakash’s MMA league, he does so with loftier goals than personal glory. Sultan’s presence by no means guarantees the league’s success. Not only is the former champ out of shape physically, he’s emotionally deflated as well. His new coach (Randeep Hooda) takes one look at Sultan’s haunted expression and says, “I don’t train dead people.”

But train him he does, in an entertaining montage that sets the stage for some cool fight scenes. All the fights in the MMA tournament look really good, a huge leap forward since last year’s disappointing Bollywood MMA flick Brothers.

Probably the single best bit of acting I’ve ever seen from Salman comes as a washed-up Sultan confronts the man he’s become. He stands shirtless in front of the mirror looking at his paunch, and tears fill his eyes. Frustrated and sobbing, he struggles to put his arm through the sleeve of his shirt, desperate to cover himself. It’s a scene that could not exist in most of Salman’s recent films, in which his character is always perfect, always the superman.

Zafar brings out the best in Salman on screen, yet the superstar’s off-screen persona is never fully out of mind while watching the film. When Aarfa’s father speaks with his daughter about Sultan and says: “Even God forgives one mistake,” one can’t help but wonder if this is also a plea to the audience on behalf of the real-life star (who couldn’t avoid trouble even while promoting this very movie).

Aarfa is one of the highlights of the film. She’s a fully realized character, with hopes and dreams independent of Sultan. When she makes compromises for the sake of their relationship, they feel like reasoned decisions and not the inevitable reduction of a woman’s roles to wife and/or mother. Sharma’s tough act is spot on.

Obviously, Sultan would have to be a progressive guy to fall for a woman who refuses to be sidelined because of her gender. So why, in multiple media sessions, does Sultan fall back on negative tropes about wives and girlfriends? He tells the press, “She’s not my wife yet, but she’s sucking my blood already,” and they laugh. Why the jokes at the expense of women?

The film also falls on its face when it comes to race. Two of Sultan’s MMA opponents are black, and both are introduced in English as being “owned” by someone, when the appropriate word should have been “sponsored.” One of the opponents is a capoeira expert, and as he leaps to execute a kick, Govinda says, “He leaps like an ape.” Sultan asks of the same fighter, “Is this gorilla or chimpanzee style?” Of all of the animals in the world that jump, Zafar could only think of monkeys to refer to a black character?

Sultan is otherwise a well-executed sports flick that would be enjoyable even with another actor in the lead role. Yet, for better or worse, the movie is all the more interesting for the way the main character’s life reflects upon that of the actor playing him.

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Opening July 6: Sultan

Salman Khan’s latest — Sultan — hits Chicago area theaters on the evening of Wednesday, July 6, 2016, before adopting a full-day schedule on Thursday, July 7. The Yash Raj Films wrestling drama is directed by Ali Abbas Zafar of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan fame and co-stars Anushka Sharma and Randeep Hooda.

Sultan opens tonight in the following Chicago area theaters, with shows starting as early as 6 p.m.:

Sultan has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 49 min.

As of Friday, the only other Hindi film showing in the Chicago area will be Housefull 3, with one show daily at the South Barrington 30.

Movie Review: Dr. Cabbie (2014)

Dr Cabbie_VOD2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Bollywood superstar Salman Khan turns producer for the Canadian film Dr. Cabbie, a comedy that takes a critical look at Canada’s medical infrastructure and immigrants’ ability to assimilate into the culture.

Vinay Virmani — the film’s co-writer — plays Dr. Deepak Veer Chopra, a recent Indian med school grad eager to start his career in Canada. He drags his mother, Nellie (Lillete Dubey), to Toronto, where they move in with her brother, Vijay (Rizwan Manji), and his blonde hippie wife, Rani (Mircea Monroe).

Despite a nationwide shortage of doctors, none of Toronto’s hospitals will accept Deepak’s Indian degree. His new pal, Tony (Kunal Nayyar), convinces the doctor to join him as a cab driver, the city’s go-to job for the over-educated and underemployed.

When Tony uploads a video of Deepak delivering a woman’s baby in the back of his cab, it launches Deepak’s career as a mobile freelance doctor, even if means he has to practice without at license. It also jump-starts Deepak’s romance with the new mom, Natalie (Adrianne Palicki).

There are some especially charming equations in Dr. Cabbie. Virmani and Palicki share a comfortable chemistry, Deepak’s earnestness pairing well with Natalie’s savvy.

Best of all is the friendship between Nellie and Rani. After initially resisting the move to Canada, Nellie is quickly won over, taking to Rani’s life of massages and facials like a fish to water. Impressed with her sister-in-law’s golden tresses and generous bosom, Nellie dons her own blonde wig and pads her bra with socks.

The funniest part of the film is Vijay’s recounting of his proposal to Rani. A flashback shows the audience the truth of what happened in a way that is far less rosy than the story he tells his sister and nephew.

The tone of the film is generally light, and so is the criticism of the Canadian medical system’s inefficiencies. Most of the racially tinged humor is benign, although a few instances are cringe-worthy.

Tony’s character exists for the purpose of inserting as many sex jokes into the script as possible, and the vast majority of the jokes just aren’t funny. It’s hard to imagine a woman being charmed by Tony’s catcalling and the set of blue plastic testicles hanging from his cab’s bumper. A subplot involving Tony’s Italian landlord and the landlord’s daughter should have been ditched entirely.

Though not perfect, Dr. Cabbie has enough cute moments and winsome performances to make it worth a glance.

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Bollywood Box Office: November 20-22

Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo faltered in its second weekend in North American theaters. From November 20-22, 2015, it earned $602,044 from 307 theaters ($1,961 average), bringing its total earnings in the United States and Canada to $3,929,227. [Update: Box Office Mojo’s reports weekend earnings figures for PRDP that are about $25,000 higher than those reported by Rentrak.]

PRDP‘s box office returns dropped by 74% from Weekend 1 to Weekend 2. By contrast, Khan’s second weekend returns for Bajrangi Bhaijaan fell by just 40%. The differences in the two films’ per-screen averages are telling, too. PRDP‘s opening and second weekend PSAs were $7,612 and $1,961, respectively. Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s PSAs were much better: $9,468 and $5,636.

Not only is PRDP out of the running to best Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s chart topping $8,114,714, the romantic drama will struggle to clear $5 million in North America, especially with the early release of Tamasha on Wednesday. Still, Khan must be pretty happy having the two highest earning Hindi films in North America this year.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: November 12-15

Salman Khan scored another massive hit in North America with Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. From November 12-15, 2015, PRDP earned $2,746,673 from 310 theaters in the United States and Canada, according to Bollywood Hungama. That’s an average of $8,860 per theater over the film’s first four days. (Box Office Mojo puts the film’s four-day earnings at $2,813,018 from 287 theaters, for an average of $9,801.)

When looking at the traditional Friday-Saturday-Sunday total, PRDP‘s $2,359,703 ranks second for the year in North America, behind Salman’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan ($2,613,192). Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s opening weekend total is even more impressive considering that it opened in 34 fewer theaters than PRDP.

The next Bollywood film likely to open in North American theaters is Tamasha on November 27, giving PRDP a second weekend with no direct competition. Will that be enough for PRDP to eclipse Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s impressive North American total earnings of $8,114,714?

Two other Hindi films went largely ignored in North American theaters over the weekend:

  • Shaandaar: Week 4; $806 from two theaters; $403 average; $603,444 total
  • Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2: Week 5; $363 from two theaters; $182 average; $242,008 total

Sources: Box Office Mojo and Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Movie Review: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015)

PremRatanDhanPayo2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Devoted Salman Khan fans have expectations of movies starring their Bhai, and surely Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (“Received a Treasure Called Love“) fulfills their expectations. For moviegoers who aren’t hardcore Salman fans, the film seems too familiar.

Don’t get me wrong, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP, henceforth) is a fine enough film. It lives up to its billing as a spectacle, with colorful dance numbers and magnificent sets. The story is full of teary-eyed reunions and blossoming romance.

But this all feels like something we’ve seen before, and that’s coming from someone who hasn’t seen any of Salman’s three previous collaborations with writer-director Sooraj Barjatya. Salman plays the same character he always plays these days, no matter if he’s starring in an action flick or a romantic comedy.

Prem (Salman) is a supremely righteous devotee who narrates religious plays. His best friend, Kanhaiya (Deepak Dobriyal), is an actor who dresses in drag to perform the lead female roles in the plays. At Prem’s insistence, they donate all of the money they earn to a charity run by the beautiful Princess Maithili (Sonam Kapoor).

On their way to meet the princess in person for the first time, the guys are intercepted by representatives of the princess’s betrothed, Prince Vijay (also Salman). Prem looks exactly like the prince, who is presently comatose following an attempt on his life by his scheming younger brother, Ajay (Neil Nitin Mukesh). Vijay’s right-hand man, Deewan Saheb (Anupam Kher), convinces Prem to temporarily pose as the prince, giving Prem the perfect opportunity to spend time with the princess.

While posing as the prince, innocent Prem comes to learn that Vijay is kind of a jerk. Complicated family dynamics — Vijay is his father’s firstborn, Ajay was born to their father’s second wife — have strained the relationship between the brothers. Their younger half-sisters — Chandrika (Swara Bhaskar) and Radhika (Aashika Bhatia) — by their father’s mistress have turned their back on the family completely.

Worst of all, from Prem’s perspective, is that Vijay is mean to Maithili. The royal couple argues all the time, and Vijay once tried to get fresh with Maithili (a big no-no to Prem, who doesn’t even approve of kissing before marriage).

Prem takes his opportunity as Vijay to try to heal the relationship between the siblings and to make things right with Maithili. If he can’t have her himself, at least he can lay the foundation for a happy marriage to Vijay. Prem asks her to list all of Vijay’s faults, which she does in song form. Unfortunately for international fans, the song lyrics in PRDP are not subtitled.

As one would expect, Salman is almost always the focus of attention. This myopia means that the villainous machinations against Vijay take place primarily offscreen. The revelation of who was plotting what and why is abrupt and confusing.

If you’re going to cast Neil Nitin Mukesh as the villain, use him. Don’t give him fewer than thirty minutes of total screentime, especially in a movie that’s nearly three hours long.

Same goes for Deepak Dobriyal, whose character is sidelined once they get to Vijay’s palace. Dobriyal is one of those actors who has my attention whether he’s the focus of the scene or not. Again, if you’re going to cast him, use him.

Prem describes his relationship with Kanhaiya thusly: “You’re my compulsory companion.” That’s a good description of any character who plays sidekick to Salman. Salman’s characters are often written as being unconcerned by money, which means that it falls to his “compulsory companions” to pay for everything Salman’s characters buy. Since Salman’s characters are usually supposed to embody moral purity, why are they always mooches?

PRDP delivers a bunch of songs, many of which are lavish spectacles. Sonam is pretty, and Salman is heroic. Things proceed pretty much as expected. A happy ending is all but guaranteed.

I don’t know that that’s enough to make PRDP a must-see movie for its own sake. For a holiday weekend outing with family and friends, it’s reasonably entertaining (although the lengthy runtime is a challenge, especially if your theater doesn’t have an intermission break). But is it unique? Is it memorable? I’m not so sure.

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