Movie Review: Veer(2010)
In a scene from the film, Salman Khan fractures his leg and limps almost for one full reel. But in real life, one can say Salman ne apne hi paav par kulhadi maar lee (hit the axe on his own leg). The ordinary story he pens doesn’t do justice to the immense intensity he adds to his performance. Salman is marred and let down by his own self.
Veer opens in 1862 though it resorts to a 1980s kind of Bollywood treatment. Much over the usual Hollywood suspects – Braveheart, Gladiator or Troyit seeks references from epic dramas with a royal streak like Dharam Veer, Rajput andRaj Tilak from our very own Bollywood stock. The story comes close of Amitabh Bachchan’s Mard (1985) minus Manmohan Desai’s trademark lost-and-found formula which is substituted with too much of Bollywood song-and-dance drama.
Prithvi Singh (Mithun Chakravarthy) heads the Pindari community who were once betrayed by the Raja of Madhavgarh (Jackie Shroff). Prithvi’s son Veer (Salman Khan) continues to rebel against Madhavgarh and the British empire in India. Expectedly it’s love-at-first sight with the Raja’s daughter, Princess Yashodhara (Zarine Khan).
With younger brother Punya (Sohail Khan), Veer goes to London to get English gyaanthat will help his clan. Predictably he stumbles upon Yashodhara at the university and the epic veers towards campus romance. Back in India, Yashodhara takes charge of her kingdom and is pitted against their enemy – the Pindaris lead by Veer. What follows is love and war though the treatment is more formulaic than fair.
Evidently designed as a project to glorify his heroism, Salman Khan is the single reason you sit through the film. Sadly Salman can’t solely substitute for the abundant ambiguities in the film. Writer Shaktimaan fails to develop Salman’s story into a compelling screenplay falling prey to outmoded clichés and the film merely ends up being a love story between two warring families with the age-old revenge angle thrown in for good measure.
With shot-takings derived from Jodhaa Akbar ’s battlefield sequences, the film starts on an interesting note. But the pace soon drops as an uninspiring love story takes precedence and too much of time is expended in song and dance. Though the narrative in first half doesn’t move beyond their redundant romance, the chemistry between the couple is palpably missing.
Half a dozen character artists are stuffed in the Pindari community, though none of them are established or contribute competently towards the war. Like many of those histrionic action sequences from the film where the hero makes a late entry to win instant applause, the film picks up pulse in the latter reels. The swayamvar sequence (derived from Dharam Veer ) and the climatic combat between father-son (inspired from Mard ) makes way for some dense dramatic moments. But Veer is excruciatingly long at a runtime that doesn’t justify its frail storytelling.
Action director Tinu Verma does a decent job in directing the stunt sequences but at several instances the rope tricks show off. Cinematographer Gopal Shah adds the requisite regal touch to the film, as his camera hovers vibrantly in action and battle sequences to capture accurate animated frames. Sanjay Dhabade’s art direction and Anna Singh’s costume designs somewhere fuses the period feel with a contemporary touch. Sajid Wajid’s musical score is pleasing to the ear and goes in sync with the period setting.
Salman Khan takes absolute precedence amongst everything else and roars through a powerful performance. The warrior character befits his stud and sturdy image and he doesn’t have to try too hard. Prominent in every frame of the film, he overshadows everyone else so much so that supplementary actor-brother Sohail Khan doesn’t even get one consolation solo scene. That thankfully moderates the trauma since all Sohail does is his brand buffoonery. Mithun Chakravarthy is the only one who stands on his own other than Salman Khan adding life to his character. Zarine Khan is a replica of Katrina Kaif and using the same dubbing artist only adds to the analogy. Lisa Lazarus is absolutely wasted in a two scene role. Jackie Shroff repeats his humdrum villainous act. Puru Rajkumar is unintentionally funny in his accented English.
Veer doesn’t offer variety. But if you are a veracious Salman Khan fan, Veer is watchable.