Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Veer

Warrior prince wins the day

Starring: Salman Khan, Mithun Chakraborty, Zarine, Jacky Shroff, Sohail Khan, Puru Rajkumar among others

Director: Anil Sharma
Rating: ***

At a time when Bollywood isn't willing to look beyond light comedies and frothy romances for box-office and other reasons, Veer is literally a brave departure from that trend. Also, considering that historicals and period dramas turn out to be expensive propositions, producers tend to give the genre a wide berth. Which is why when someone sets out to make it, and does so satisfactorily, one ought to commend it. Save for a definite lack of finesse and some wrong casting choices, Veer turns out to be quite an enjoyable film, if not a great one. It combines myth, history, legend, nationalism, mythology, tapping well into the collective consciousness. And though it functions within familiar, age-old templates, it surprisingly prevents itself from slipping into clichés.

The film is directed by Anil Sharma, who gave us the mighty, epic-scale Gadar in 2001. While the story belongs to Salman Khan, the screenplay and dialogues are by Shaktimaan – who also wrote Gadar. The other writers of the film are Sailesh Verma and Krishna Raghav. The names deserve a mention because a film of this kind relies heavily on research and writing. There is a Gadar hangover for sure – the train sequence, the heroine's souvenir, the different time spans it covers and so on – but fortunately, Veer picks some of that film's strengths rather than weaknesses. The rhetoric and jingoism isn't as offensive here, as it was in the Sunny Deol starrer.

The film starts with an introduction to the Pindari clan, a large group of feisty, local warriors, who get betrayed by an evil king (Jackie Shroff) of the region. He joins hands with the Britishers and unleashes a war on the clan, killing many. The Pindari chief (Mithun) decides to avenge this treachery by gathering more support and meanwhile preparing his own son, Veer (Salman Khan) for it. Veer grows up to be a rebellious, daring soldier. Along with his brother (Sohail Khan) he is packed off to England for education, so that the clan is better equipped to deal with the British. Here, Veer falls in love with an Indian Princess (Zarine), and as it turns out, she's the daughter of the clan's biggest enemy.

Salman has said the story was inspired from a Russian novel. Still, the actor appears to have a sense of drama – which comes to the fore especially in the second half, when he sets up the romance quite interestingly. The Princess is anointed the heir and she must now decide between her allegiance to her kingdom and her lover.
The second half is a little stretched out, but there are enough moments in the film to keep it engaging. The dialogues are good, the humour is subtle and the war sequences are breathtaking.

Also, one ought to respect the film somewhat for its choice of climax. So even though Veer is a local warrior, by the end of his journey, his character assumes nationalistic hues. Veer easily challenges Mangal Pandey as the more virtuous, brave and splendid first war-hero of Independence.

But the film is not without flaws. Even though there are plenty of shots that are splendidly executed, the portions where 19th century England has been recreated look quite spurious. The scenes are too brightly-lit, the colours and sets are garish, with no lived-in feeling, and overall, there is a lack of finesse.

The casting is a mixed bag. Salman is the apt choice for the role and he is in great form. He has written a dream role for himself and carried it off with aplomb, bringing both panache and plausibility to his character. Mithun Charaborty is in fine fettle, as is Puru Rajkumar, as the Princess' haughty brother.
Debutant Zarine was clearly chosen for her resemblance to Katrina Kaif. That doesn't help at all, except make her look like a poor man's Kaif. Also, someone should have really got her to lose some weight. She looks huge even next to Salman!
As for Sohail Khan – who keeps piggy back riding on his brother– he continues to make the same unfunny expressions that he's been making since Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya days.

A word on Sajid-Wajid's wonderful music for the film. The composers have done an ace job, and must say, Anil Sharma has used the songs excellently in the film.

Finally, Veer – even with its weakness – works out to be a well-told story about a valiant hero and his thrilling adventures. Not bat at all, and full marks to the makers for attempting it.

-Sandhya Iyer


Anonymous Anonymous said...

She put on weight because of the character. This is mentioned in an interview here:

We should all be careful when making such comments in a review ;-)

January 22, 2010 at 5:56 PM  
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January 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Sharmila said...

Thanks for your comment Sandy on naachgaana. I am not a member, hence cannot post comments there. Looks like both of us have been enchanted with Gone with the wind. Nobody could have done better than Clark Gable in the movie playing Rhett. I saw the movie and then read the book and never been able to picture Rhett otherwise. BTW, enjoy all your reviews.

January 25, 2010 at 4:09 AM  
Blogger Sandhya Iyer said...

Exactly my thoughts Sharmila. Loved Clark Gable!! and cannot envision anyone else as that character.

BTW why don't you become a member on NG it would be great, really.

January 25, 2010 at 4:14 AM  
Blogger Sharmila said...

I will do so shortly Sandy.

January 25, 2010 at 4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm different strokes for different folks. Rhett was good but Gone with the wind was all about Vivian Leigh and her portrayal of Scarlett. Has there been a better female character in any book - i think not! I think the word 'vivacious' was specially created after Vivian...

and boy isnt the world filled with Scarlett like women ;-)

Alexander....the not so great!

January 25, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi sandy i read your review of veer, first positive i went to watch the movie and was so surprised i actually liked the movie,salmans acting,songs every thing .wondering why the critics have given negative reviews its definately a one time watch.

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