It is one of the most anticipated movies of this year and one wonders whether it lives up to the hype. ‘Sultan’ comes from a director – Ali Abbas Zafar – who’s enjoyed success before in two films but for who a film of such a scale is not familiar. Zafar has written the film as well and he’s also written it with just one actor in mind – Salman Khan who is the male lead. With Anushka Sharma opposite him for the first time and the film’s first promos and soundtrack already having struck a chord with the audiences, ‘Sultan’ has blockbuster written all over it much before its release. However, is is really worth a watch?
Following the story of Sultan Ali Khan (Khan), the story begins with him spotting Aarfa when he collides with her scooter. When he instantly falls in love, he manages to find out that she is a state-level champion wrestler when he sees her win a tournament. She resists being anything more than a friend due to her dream of being an Olympic medallist for India. When he misunderstands her attention, she ends up humiliating him in front of his friends, mocking him for not having a dream or ambition in life. Then begins Sultan’s journey to find himself – as a wrestler too – and prove his status to her.
Zafar has completely outdone himself with ‘Sultan’. Salman Khan is always known for his blockbusters but this performance of his will definitely go down as one of his career best and Zafar is to thank for this. Zafar’s small details in keeping with his characters, the way the film is shot as well as how the characters relate to each other are perhaps some of the most important bits of the film. Zafar’s vision comes through in such a beautiful way, showing the journey of Sultan’s character with such dignity and empathy that it’s hard for anyone in the audience not to be drawn in from the start. The film gathers pace quickly and the comic instances between Sultan and Aarfa are enough to make you want to see where the story will go.
To put Salman Khan as a wrestler is not something many would have thought of. In ‘Sultan’, Khan’s weight definitely fluctuates, as reports have already suggested, and he definitely is made to look younger in the early parts and older in the more up to date ones. Many would have thought Khan’s ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ last year was unmatchable but with ‘Sultan’ he delivers a respectable performance once again. The film will remind you of many others that Khan has been seen in but in this he shows that he is still on top of his game. Sharma, on the other hand, is also a good match for Khan’s stature as Aarfa. She manages to not only be on par with him performance wise but also shows that she is absolutely worthy of being the only actress so far to have worked with all three Khans. Her screen presence is something the audience seem to yearn for in this film and her training for her wrestler’s role makes her look like a pro in all the related scenes. Amit Sadh as tournament organiser does a good job in his role, as does Randeep Hooda who is in a special appearance as Sultan’s coach. It’s definitely both refreshing and comfortable watching Hooda and Khan together on the screen again, with Hooda giving a very effective add-on to Sultan’s overall momentum as a character.
The only one weakness that is worth a mention in the film is that the climax scene does get a little elongated when it doesn’t need to be. Also, some songs are probably not necessary in the grand scheme of things. Having said that, Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai and Jag Ghoomeya set the scene in both the first and second halves, as does Bulleya. The soul of the entire movie, however, is most definitely in the title track. Vishal-Shekhar should take a bow for such a diverse soundtrack which compliments both Khan’s signature style as well as the plot.
So what exactly makes ‘Sultan’ a film which is worth watching? The biggest thing is probably that Sharma is an actress which is on the same level as Khan throughout the film. It’s a definite newness that comes with this Salman Khan film, thanks to Zafar. Zafar proves himself to be a director to be reckoned with and ‘Sultan’ has firmly put him on the map as one of the best directors today; showing that he can give a trusted and loved actor a new lease of life almost in a role of a lifetime. ‘Sultan’ comes with a whole lot of soul and love and this makes it something which will not only touch you but which will make you think differently about an actor whose career spans over 20 years.
BizAsia Showbiz rating: 4/5