Bollywood Movie Review
Sultan is a Bollywood movie about a middle-aged former wrestling champion named Sultan Ali Khan (Salman Khan). He is living a lonely life in a small Indian town working at the water company, that is until the owner of an independent MMA league, Aakash Oberoi (Amit Sadh), tries to recruit him to join his failing company to attract more local support. Sultan refuses the offer because he has vowed to never step in the ring again. Aakash then seeks out Sultan’s only friend, who tells him what has led Sultan to live this life of solitude.
While Sultan is a movie about a wrestler trying to find himself again, it is also about love, just like any great Bollywood movie. Sultan falls in love at first sight with Aarfa Hussain (Anushka Sharma) who has the same dreams of wrestling greatness. Their story, both their immediate courtship and later trials and tribulations, feels natural, more so than American blockbusters where the climax of the movie often proves so powerful that the two leads need to make out.
The movie runs long at 143 minutes so if you have a small bladder you should make the proper preparations before going in. The narrative spends in an inordinate amount of time on his pre-wrestling days. The story could really be broken up into two separate movies: one about a broken relationship and the other about a former fighter looking for redemption. But director Ali Abbas Zafar tries to jam everything into this movie. He addresses themes of perseverance, forgiveness, and gender equality to name a few, and each new idea adds to the already bulging story. And if that weren’t enough Zafar throws in a couple Bollywood song and dance numbers for the crowd.
I hope that last sentence about the movie’s dance numbers didn’t sound like a complaint because it’s not. In fact, all the music in the movie is on point, especially during the training montage. It made me want to move back to Philly and start running the art museum stairs.
I have seen the story of the underdog 1000 times before so I feel like I should know how it ends, but throughout the story I felt moments of uncertainty. That could be because I am unfamiliar with the Bollywood way of making movies, or it could be because I was so emotionally invested in the story. Sultan provides a nice change of pace to the oppressive heat of summer movies that wind up just stinking. B+