Gabbar Singh has been in the news since the day it was announced with fan boy posters coming out even before shooting started. If you are following director Harish Shankar on twitter, you would know that he is a fan boy of Pawan Kalyan. My apprehension with the movie was on account of Pawan Kalyan’s track record of late. When recently Pawan did the remake of Love Aaj Kal as Teenmaar it did not work for me, they had butchered the script to suit Pawan. And his last release Panjaa was not exactly a typical Pawan Kalyan film. The makers were trying to do something different and yet tried to keep Pawan’s fan following in mind as seen in case of Pawan shaking his legs at the end of the movie and the end result was there for all to see. The other reason for my worry was whether Harish deliver when he himself is fan of his lead actor, will he deliver the film which will be enjoyable fare both to fans and non-fans and I must say ,Gabbar Singh is the best fan boy tribute to Pawan Kalyan ever. The movie starts with people jostling to enter cinema hall to watch Sholay and we are introduced to a kid who is a fan of Gabbar Singh and wants to be villain in real life. With differences between the kid and step father he runs away from home. He comes back later to the same village as Circle Inspector with specks of grey hair who for reason or no reason uses his guns and is found of cutting Chai.
We know we are excepted to use suspension of disbelief when we watch a mass hero Telugu film. And yes within 15 minutes we are introduced to a song which is dedicated for all the fans of Power Star, all we see is a belt with Gabbar Singh Badge and Pawan doing pelvic thrusts for the whole 5 minutes. Pawan Kalyan, who renames Police Station as Gabbar Singh Police Station, call his subordinates Gabbar Singh Ke Faujiyon and names them according to character of Sholay like Sambha( Ali ). Meanwhile he locks horns with Siddhapa Naidu (Abhimanyu Singh) who is a local goon and harbors political ambition, Gabbar Singh becomes a thorn in his way to glory and the stage is set for the duel between them. Though I have seen Dabbang in bits and parts it did not appeal to me. Thankfully this is not a frame to frame remake of the original and Harish Shankar has been credited with story changes, he does away with a few scenes and characters which lend a grey shade to the hero on original. In Dabangg you have Chulbul Pandey perceived as somehow responsible for death of his mother due to his corrupt ways, but here in the Telugu version it is not the case.
Harish knows the pulse of the audience and also what fans wants; he manages to tweak the screenplay to satisfy both. Harish Shankar gives tribute to Sholay and Pawan Kalyan throughout the movie. Pawan uses different modes of transport in the movie, one of them being cycle rickshaw a tribute to Basanti’s Tanga with speaker blaring Chiru’s hit song Ee Petaku Nene Mestri from Muta Mesthri. Harish also pays tribute to Kashyap, not Anibhav but Anurag with brass band playing emotional atyachar from Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.d, when Pawan goes with a marriage proposal to Shruti. Interestingly Pawan who so far has refrained from political dialogues or taking digs at other heroes takes a dig at Dr.Rajashekhar. Harish also gives references to Pawan’s Khushi and Jalsa.
While Harish tries to demystify Pawan and his demi-god stature in few scenes like when people ask Pawan is he a god or hero to both which he answers in negative and says he is a villain and in other scene when Shruti asks him does he experience fear he laughs it of first then says he does. But then there are many scenes in the film which mentions why he is a star, Pawan mouths dialogues such as “Nenu cheppinaa okate, fans cheppinaa okate” he refers to Ali as his fan. One of the biggest fanboy moment comes in second half with an episode involving Brahmanandan and a cutout of Pawan Kalyan. Special mention must be made of the ten minute Antakashari sequence in the second half which is one of the best comic sequences in Telugu cinema. The expressions and dialogues of Pawan here and the songs left me in splits, none from Mandakini to Madhuri is spared in this scene.
Acting wise apart from Pawan nobody has scope to perform, while the Ali-Pawan combo scenes have been highlight of Pawan’s previous movies, here Ali does not find much scope. Shruti Hassan has just to sway her hips and show her navel, it would have been better if makers hid her Tamil Tattoo on her back, it does not make sense for a Telugu village belle to have a Tamil Tattoo. Abhimanyu Singh’s character has not been well etched, I guess that is the problem when you have a director who is a fan of the lead actor. Pawan Kalyan finally hits the right groove with a role he plays with panache and charm that you are hooked to the film in spite of logical flaws. He does not disappoint anyone as he dances, fights, mouths punch dialogues, romances and wears sunglasses which never gets out of the place and shows why he can portray such larger than life character.
Musically ( music by Devi Sri Prasad ) this is one of the weakest soundtracks for a Pawan movie but the visualization and dances make it up for it. Jayanan Vincent’s cinematography captures the beauty of Gujarat, Pollachi and Switzerland very well. Some of the scenes like Pawan-Shruti meeting for first time are delight for eyes. Goutham Raju’s editing in first half is superb, but why the abrupt climax ?Action by Ram-Lakshman is fresh and entertaining especially the Kabbadi Scene. What is wrong with our censor Board,the blurring of cleavage shots does not take away our attention actually it only brings in more attention. Also in some scenes photos of freedom fighters like Lokmanya Tilak are blurred while in others it is not, this does not make sense to me.
If you are in the mood for a full on masala film, then I would say Dekho Dekho Gabbar Singh.