Movie Review: Jai Ho
Starring: Salman Khan, Salman Khan, Salman Khan.......also starring Daisy Shah, Tabu, Danny Denzongpa, Mohnish Behl, plus 47 others actors (and still counting)
Directed by Sohail Khan
Rating: * * * *
We really canít judge a Salman starrer by normal yardsticks. If this film starred another superstar it would be evaluated from another perspective.
But Salman is....Salman! He doesnít desire nor seek anyoneís approval. The characters he plays also display the same level of arrogant self-worth. When he roars against corruption the Dolby sound quivers in approval.
Say welcome to the uncommon Common Man. He is tough, he is gutsy. And he doesnít believe in common courtesy. He delivers a mean punch when required. But at home heís just your regular guy snuggling up to his plump super-mom, confiding in his sister and fighting off the amorous advances of the over-friendly neighbour, who is fortunately female.
To the fanatics of Salman (fans are for ordinary superstars) Jai Ho is a power-packed and punch-drunk exclusion into Salman land. The kinetic energy flows out uncorked in sequences that seem designed to show the main leadís unconcealed distaste for corruption and humbug. In that sense (provided you are in this for sense) this film is Salmanís equivalent of his Being Human campaign in real life.
Very often the endeavour of being human is reduced to a T-shirt slogan in this film. But thatís the cool quotient Salman is aiming for. Take it, and leave the theatre.
Santa Salman is here. And so what if itís not Christmas time yet? When Salman decides to celebrate Eid, itís Eid. When he wants it to be Christmas, then look what goodies Santa has brought us in the stocking. Itís none other than debutant Daisy Shah, the girl in the stockings who does a lot of stalking.
If you are an avid Salman gazer youíd know that Salman chooses to reverse the rules of filmy courtship. Normally in our cinema, from the time when Raj Kapoor stalked Nargis in Andaz and Rajendra Kumar heckled Babita down the slopes of Gulmarg in Anjana, itís the hero who showers persistent attention on the seething simpering heroine.
In Salmanís films the heroine often takes the initiative in the hoary of courtship. In Jai Ho Daisy Shah is the pesky girl next-door who keeps barging into Salmanís sprawling household comprising of any number of kins and their visitors/lovers/associates....The heroís hectic household here is a lot of Salmanís real-life open-house home.
Actually all of Salmanís films are basically extensions of the superstars own personality. Jai Ho is more so than any of his earlier films. He wants us to know he cares for the common man. The script, a re-vamped Salmanesque take on the Telugu Chiranjeevi starrer Stalin, is designed to exhibit the superstarís philanthropic and humane side.
Jai Ho is all about loving your extended family. How extended, depends on how large the conscience and how broad an individualís vision. Sohail Khanís direction provides ample breadth for Salmanís superstardom to shine. However there is a perceptible absence of depth in the anti-corruption plot. The narrative is plotted with tokenism rather than any serious in-depth attempt to understand the decadent dynamics of present-day politics.
Ironically a similar shallow view of politics recently emerged in Salman Khanís attitude when he visited Akhilesh Yadavís home town to provide a spot of glamorous diversion in the wretched nativesí lives. Jai Ho is also an extension of the same urge to give the junta some instant hope. Long-term solutions to the malaise of corruption seem beyond the creative reach of Salmanís super stardom. As far as heís concerned itís enough to let the conscience bleed for street urchins and other random casualties of corruption.
Seize the moment, and youíll probably make a difference to society...This is the mantra Salman adopts in Jai Ho. This formula of instant socio-political remedy and quite appealing, though the vigilante insinuations are also dangerous.
Jai Ho makes for an engaging if somewhat incomplete view of present-day corruption-ridden India. Director Sohail Khan keeps the proceedings moving briskly. When there is a danger of a sudden slackening, Sohail pumps up the adrenaline with rugged action sequences where Salman goes at his adversaries full-throttle.
Itís all a vehicle to enhance Salmanís image as the messiah of the downtrodden. He is one helluva angry man whoís not just anti-establishment but anti-antipathy. He implores the public to rise and revolt against humbug. Coming from a star with so much clout thatís quite a hard-hitting message. Regrettably the episodes to show the superstar-heroís concern for humanity are text-bookish and illustrative.
Yet you cannot but take Salmanís clarion-call for social awakening seriously. He gives you no choice. The crusaderís role is played at an arrogantly absent-minded pitch as though the hero of the masses has too many things to worry about, the least of his concerns being how best to occupy that camera space. The lack of concentration is glaring when the leading man occupies almost every frame of the film.
There is no dearth of talented and not-so-talented actors in Jai Ho. There are more characters in Sohailís extended family than in SoorajBarjatyaís Hum Saath Saath Hai and Hum Aapke Hain Koun combined. The entire galaxy of characters in Jai Ho has a purpose: to extol the unending virtues of our-one-man army.
To his credit director Sohail Khan has spun a credible and often compelling anti-corruption yarn that succeeds in justifying the need for Salmanís stardom to monopolize the entire length and breadth of the footage. His rhetorical rowdyism brings the house down.
Santosh Thundiyilís cinematography and Sandeep Shirodkarís background score are almost affable extensions of Salmanís messianic hero-giri. The visuals and the sound nail his crusade down to a cohesive if not comprehensive cinematic statement. Besides Danny Denzongpa who has some meaty interactive episodes with Salman the rest of the cast including the very talented Nadira Babbar, is wasted. Correct me if we are wrong. But we did catch a glimpse or two of the once-incandescent Tabu in the new eagerly-awaited Salman starrer, now tragically a pale shadow reduced to wallpaper pretending to have a personality beyond the wall.
Tabu should know, no character in Jai Ho (or for that matter any Salman starrer) has a life beyond the hero. Every character in Jai Ho is motivated by Salmanís presence. And since the audience is right behind its hero cheering lustily, there is no harm in the characters playing shadows.
The chase has begun. Corruption will never be the same again.