During the last two years something has happened with Salman Khan. He has started to take the camera seriously. Earlier he just played himself over and over again. But in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and to a much lesser extent Prem Ratan Dhan Payo he played a character.
In Sultan, the trailer of which was released on Tuesday evening to an expected furore, Salman just transforms — there is no other way to put it — into a Haryanvi wrestler, dhobi pachaad and all.
The wrestling scenes are not faked. Neither are Anushka Sharma’s moves in the ring as she takes on a male opponent. Yes, she plays a wrestler too. And as Sultan stares at her he mumbles, “Just as a doctor or an engineer marries in the same profession, a pehelwan can only marry a pehelaan.”
He then proceeds to – and I quote the very earthy Ms. Anushka in the trailer — ma-bahen of the English language to impress her.
Not a false is struck in the ring or outside it. Salman seems to play the wrestler even as fate plays with the wrestler’s life.
It’s a classic fall-from-grace story, with the fallen sports champ redeeming himself with the help of a eager determined manager (Amit Sadh, with a brand new haircut) and a trainer (Randeep Hooda, with his trademark arrogant attitude). Hooda looks Sultan up and down and declares, “I don’t train dead people.”
Follows sharply-cut shots of Salman training, running in tandem with a chugging train….the tireless trailer and Salman never lose steam. Neither hides anything. There is a disarming guilelessness to the protagonist—almost naked in the akhaada and just as stripped down emotionally, it seems—and an equally unadorned aura about the man’s saga as told in the trailer.
Fully focused on getting our attention without trying, the trailer crashes through the glass wall of our cynicism, demolishing our belief that Salman is destined to play only himself.
He is so much in character that when Sultan falls from fab to flab Salman actually grows a paunch for the tale. But fans needn’t cringe. Salman’s Sultan soon bounces back with a swipe in the ring that leaves his opponent as breathless as we.
The trailer of Sultan is one swoop of adrenaline, designed and cut to create a tension that nimbly weaves the Haryanvi wrestlers personal life with his tryst in the ring.
“The real fight is not in the ring but in how you face life,” Salman’s voiceover speaks up. Easy to be dismissive of the sporty spirit when life is serving you lemons and you decided to make lemonade. Did someone call Sultan a loser after seeing his gross belly? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Sultan has an irresistible aura of defiant sportsmanship about him. He won’t take defeat in life, love or wrestling without putting up a brave fight.
You want Salman to go to jail for an alleged black buck incident? The deafening roar as Sultan enters the ring tells another story.