First Watch · Movies



Forget the Anushka Sharma and Salman Khan you have ever seen before.
You will always remember Aarfa and Sultan created by Ali Abbas Zafar in Sultan. They make this Haryanavi wrestling drama a satisfying, inspirational and emotional ride. Sport, romance and suspended reality join forces to punch you in the face like never before. You come out feeling like you are in Argentina. Helloooo Haryana.

Sultan could have been called Aarfa. She makes a tangy yin to his spicy yang. The 440 volt power to his energy. Subtle reason to his unbridled passion. What I loved is both characters pursue their personal journeys without any explanation and drama. They feed off and inspire each other, no questions asked.

Gender differences and decisions are shown as they are and both come up winners for their flaws and what they stand for. The goal is to never give up the fight.

Some may question Aarfa’s decision to give up an important dream. Or feel she is less feminist for it. Let’s not forget though feminist derives from feminine and that’s how life is. You find meaning and gain strength in your choices making the most of the moment. And we do see tables turn later.

Salman has enough acting chops – pity we don’t see it enough with his superstar status. He is a director’s actor – Sooraj Barjatya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, David Dhawan, Rakesh Roshan, Rajkumar Santoshi, Karan Johar, Kabir Khan and now Ali Abbas Zafar have drawn a career-best performance out of him. I can’t think of anyone else as Sultan – Khan combines effervescence with unworldly charm to give us a wrestler who wears his heart on his muscle with pride. No doubts here, he lives and breathes Sultan. In all three acts – as the young energetic wrestler, the middle-aged employee and the underdog Romeo struggling to find his groove again.

Anushka is the only actress to have scored solid roles in all Khan movies. Such grace, strength and fire she lends to Aarfa. A truly sublime performance, keeping the fine line of balance as she plays confident, happy, angry and grim with ease.

The supporting cast rocks with Anant Sharma, Kumud Mishra, Amit Sadh and Randeep Hooda. They all sparkle.

A special pat for Vishal Shekhar’s music and choreography. 440 Volt is a riot, Baby ko Base a hoot, Sachchi Mucchi joyous and the title song a punch. Salman in Jag Ghumiya is simply soul-stirring, loved him. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan gives him voice and is almost unrecognisable, singing on a lower note and the result is soothing. Neha Bhasin sings the female version beautifully too. My new favourite is Bulleya and not only because Papon renders it, Irshad Kamil’s lyrics and a sombre sufi composition elevate the song to a magical place.

Sultan is a Ali Abbas Zafar extravaganza all through. The story, screenplay, direction, cinematography and performances are impeccable. Not a dull moment in this elaborately crafted 170-minute romantic-action drama. After a safe Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and the adrenaline-charged Gunday he dishes out the sweetest treat to Hindi cinema lovers. It is gripping, supercharged and a triumph in the entertainment genre.

Take 2 tonight. Kyunki? Baby ko bass pasand hai.

cinemaspotter rating: 4.5 out of 5

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