Jai Ho: Movie Review

Jai Ho
Subhash K Jha
Written by Subhash K Jha

Jai Ho: Salman Ki Jai Ho.!!

Starring: Salman Khan, Salman Khan, Salman Khan…….also starring Tabu, Danny Denzongpa, Mohnish Behl,plus 47 others actors(and still counting)

Directed by Sohail Khan

We really can’t judge a Salman starrer by  normal yardsticks. If this film starred another superstar it would be evaluated from another perspective.

But Salman is….Salman! He doesn’t desire nor seek anyone’s approval. The characters he plays also display the same level of arrogant self-worth.When he roars against corruption in hai-hai places the dolby sound quivers in approval.

Say welcome to the uncommon Common Man.He  is tough, he is gutsy. And he doesn’t believe in common courtesy.He delivers a mean punch when required. But at home he’s just your regular guy snuggling up to his plump super-mom , confiding in his sister and fighting off the amorous advances of the over-friendly neighbour, who is fortunately female.

To the fanatics of Salman(fans are for ordinary superstars) Jai Ho is a power-packed and punch-drunk exclusion into Salmanland. The  kinetic energy flows out uncorked  in sequences that seem designed to show the main lead’s unconcealed distaste for corruption and humbug. In that sense(provided you are in this  for sense) this film is Salman’s equivalent of his Being Human campaign in real life.

Very often the endeavour of  being human is reduced to  a teeshirt slogan in this film. But that’s the cool quotient Salman is aiming for. Take it, and leave the theatre.

Santa Salman is  here. And so what if it’s not Christmas time yet? When Salman decides to celebrate Eid, it’s Eid. When he wants it to be Christmas, then look what goodies Santa has brought us in the stocking! It’s none other than  debutant Daisy Shah, the girl in the stockings who does a lot of stalking.

If you are an avid Salman gazer you’d know that Salman chooses to reverse the rules of filmy courtship. Normally in our cinema, from the time when Raj Kapoor stalked Nargis in Andaz and Rajendra Kumar heckled Babita down the slopes of Gulmarg in Anjana, it’s  the hero who showers persistent attention on the seething simpering heroine.

In Salman’s films the heroine often takes the initiative in the hoary of courtship.In Jai Ho Daisy Shah is the pesky girl next-door who keeps barging into Salman’s sprawling household comprising of any number of kins and their visitors/lovers/associates….The hero’s hectic household here is a lot of Salman’s real-life open-house home .

Actually all of Salman’s films are basically extensions of the superstars own personality. Jai Ho is more so  than any of his earlier films. He wants us to know he cares for the common man. The script, a re-vamped Salmanesque take on the Telugu Chiranjeevi starrer Stalin, is designed to exhibit the superstar’s philanthropic and  humane side.

Jai Ho is all about loving your extended family.How extended, depends on how large the conscience and how broad an individual’s vision. Sohail Khan’s direction provides ample breadth  for Salman’s superstardom to shine. However there is a perceptible absence of  depth in the anti-corruption plot. The narrative is plotted with tokenism rather than any serious in-depth attempt to understand the decadent dynamics of present-day politics.

Ironically a similar shallow view of politics recently emerged in Salman Khan’s attitude when he visited Akhilesh Yadav’s home town to provide a spot of glamorous diversion in the wretched natives’ lives. Jai Ho is also an extension of the same urge to give the junta some instant hope. Long-term solutions to the malaise of corruption seem beyond the creative reach of  Salman’s superstardom.As far as he’s concerned it’s enough to let the conscience bleed for street urchins and other random casualties of corruption.

Seize the moment,and you’ll probably make a difference to society…This is the mantra Salman adopts in Jai Ho. This formula of instant socio-political remedy and quite appealing, though the vigilante insinuations are also dangerous.

Jai Ho  makes for an engaging if somewhat incomplete view of present-day corruption-ridden India. Director Sohail Khan keeps the proceedings moving briskly. When there is a danger of a sudden slackening, Sohail pumps up the adrenaline with  rugged action sequences where Salman goes at his adversaries full-throttle.

It’s all a vehicle to enhance Salman’s image as the messiah of the downtrodden. He is one helluva angry man who’s not just anti-establishment but anti-antipathy. He implores the public to rise and revolt against humbug. Coming from a star with so much clout that’s quite a hard-hitting message. Regrettably the episodes to show the superstar-hero’s concern for humanity are text-bookish and illustrative .

Yet you cannot but take Salman’s clarion-call for social awakening seriously. He gives you no choice.The crusader’s role is played at an arrogantly absent-minded pitch as though the hero of the masses has too many things to worry about, the least of his concerns being how best to occupy that camera space . The lack of concentration is glaring when the leading man occupies almost ever frame of the film.

There is no dearth  of  talented and not-so-talented actors in Jai Ho. There are more characters in Sohail’s extended family than in Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hai and Hum Aapke Hain Koun combined. The entire galaxy of characters in Jai Ho has a purpose: to extol the unending virtues of our-one-man army.

To his credit director Sohail Khan has spun a credible and often compelling anti-corruption yarn  that succeeds in justifying the need for Salman’s stardom to monopolize the entire length and breadth of the footage. His rhetorical rowdyism brings the house down.

Santosh Thundiyil’s cinematography and Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score are almost affable extensions of Salman’s messianic hero-giri. The visuals and the sound nail his crusade down to a cohesive if not comprehensive cinematic statement.

Besides Danny Denzongpa who has some meaty interactive episodes with Salman the rest of the cast including the very talented Nadira Babbar, is wasted.Correct me if I am wrong. But I did catch a glimpse or two of the once-incandescent Tabu in the new eagerly-awaited Salman starrer,now tragically a pale shadow  reduced to wallpaper pretending to have  a personality beyond the wall.

Tabu should know, no character in Jai Ho (or for that matter any Salman starrer) has a life beyond the hero. Every character in Jai Ho is motivated by Salman’s presence.And since the audience is right behind its hero cheering lustily, there is no harm in the characters playing shadows .

The chase has begun. Corruption will never be the same again.

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