The Salman Khan starrer Dabangg (2010) was not only a trendsetter of sorts in Hindi films; it even inspired similar versions in a few other languages, most notable of them being Gabbar Singh (2012) in Telugu. Despite basically using the same plot outline of Dabangg, director Harish Shankar made an effort to make a few simple changes, basically adapting it in a way that made sure that the personality of superstar Pawan Kalyan was well highlighted, making the film a delight to watch for fans and even the general audience. It was but natural that there would be an extension of the brand Gabbar Singh, after all who wouldn’t want to put his/her money on a winning horse.But with Dabangg 2 not meeting with the same reception as Dabangg the prospect of once again going for an adaptation was ruled out. After the mega success of Attarintiki Daaredi the project was announced, but there were frequent changes, the director, DOP and even the title ended up finally changing. What remained constant eventually was the presence of Pawan Kalyan and producer Sharrath Marar.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Sardaar Gabbar Singh has been one of the most awaited Telugu films of this year. With Eros International coming on board as co-producer and even ensuring that the film has a Hindi dubbed version getting released simultaneously, it only enhanced the curiosity of the audience. Having seen the film on the very first day of its release I must say that I had fun while watching it, but not exactly in the manner that I expected. Given below is a fictionalized take on probably how the film was conceived, in the process I try to share my thoughts on the film as well.
1. Pawan Kalyan, a few AD’s, producer Sharrath Marar and the director K.S.Ravindra are all sitting pensively in Pawan’s farm house. The reason being that the project had already undergone many changes but still there was no story in hand, forget the screenplay.
2. Pawan Kalyan then announces that he would turn writer for the film himself, after all writing was something that he had always enjoyed and missed it quite a bit :).So what if his previous attempt Johnny (2003) did not work, considering his current form wouldn’t his fans be elated hearing that he is thoroughly involved with the project? Sharrath Marar and the others are delighted and they party hard the whole night. (Maybe “Kevvu Kekka” kept playing on loop)
3. Pawan decides that the film wouldn’t really take off from where Gabbar Singh ended; he feels it’s better to give a new spin to the character and extend the franchise instead. With Eros on board he is suggested that the setting be such that there is scope for the presence of Hindi speakers in the film, perhaps even set up a Hindi dubbed version as well. Hence Pawan comes up with ‘Rattanpur’, a fictional town that is on the border of Chattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh where the film will be actually based.
4. What would Pawan Kalyan portray in the film? Well no surprises here, of course he would be once again cast as a fearless cop, Sardaar Gabbar Singh. There is a quick backstory of how two orphans Sardaar and Samba (Ali) are taken in under the care of a top cop (Tanikella Bharani), going on to become cops themselves. Needless to say, Samba is the trusted lieutenant of Sardaar, always by his side and all that jazz.
5. The film has to have a popular heroine in the lead right? Why not Kajal Aggarwal suggests one of the A.D’s, Pawan agrees as he hasn’t anyways been paired with Kajal earlier. The fans will also approve of the pairing you see :).
6. What’s the point of a film like this without a powerful villain right? So in comes Sharad Kelkar who is popular for his work in Hindi and Marathi films, he would make his entry to Telugu cinema. Who knows perhaps he could go on to join the long line of Bollywood imports who have a bustling career in Telugu films.
7. Ok so we have the hero, the heroine and the villain locked and of course the story would revolve around Rattanpur. But what is the story actually? Simple indeed, Rattanpur is under the control of a tyrant, Bhairav Singh (Sharad Kelkar) who belongs to a royal family. There is another royal family headed by Princess Arshi (Kajal Agarwal) that tries to do good to the people but then they are helpless against the might of Bhairav Singh. Harinarayan Singh (Mukesh Rishi), the commander and staunch supporter of the royal family requests for support in the form of an honest police officer who can take on the might of Bhairav Singh and voila here comes Sardaar Gabbar Singh (Pawan Kalyan).
8. Everyone who is part of the project is all pumped up and excited, no one, including the director K.S.Ravindra is bothered to question Pawan Kalyan as to what’s so novel about the plot. After all the public is coming to watch Pawan Kalyan right? So why bother so much about the plot, when instead you can ensure that the fans are kept happy as their star manages to keep them excited all through the film.
9. So how does he manage that? Begin with a backstory which shows the junior Sardaar in style and giving off the Sholay reference, move on to a stylishly shot fight in a gun factory and then follow it with an opening song that’s also the title song. Wow! What a start right? Wait, wait there’s more coming up. There’s a lot of scope for punch dialogues, Sardaar is in love with guns more than the heroine itself, so there are guns of all kinds here, heck even Brahmanandam plays around with guns (it’s another matter that most of the guns look clearly fake), so there’s plenty of action indeed.
10. Well the film isn’t all about action alone. Remember there are those who aren’t too fond of action watching the film as well? So there is a lot of humour and Sardaar continues to sing and dance over here. But while the whole Antakshari segment in Gabbar Singh was good fun, here the competition dance is mostly a bore. But wait there’s a trick up Pawan’s sleeve, not only is he paying tribute to himself in Gabbar Singh (like the dialogue “Naakonchem Tikkundi Kaani Daaniko Lekkundi”) but he also pays tribute to his brother Chiranjeevi, dancing to songs from Indra and Shankar Dada M.B.B.S.
11. Don’t forget that the film has to have some good songs say the producers to Pawan Kalyan and K.S.Ravindra. They nod their heads in agreement and rope in Devi Sri Prasad aka DSP who had also composed for Gabbar Singh. The end result being an energetic title track (lyrics by Ramajogayya Sastry and vocals by Benny Dayal) and a soothing “O Pilla Subhanalla” (lyrics by Ananta Sriram,vocals by Vijay Prakash and Shreya Ghoshal), the rest are strictly average. But Pawan and Ravindra are happy; they feel confident that the audience would like the songs when they watch the film.
12. As for the comedy factor if Pawan Kalyan himself and Ali weren’t enough then there is Brahmanandam too and he gets a lot of screen time. So what if all that he does in the name of evoking laughter is to fool around with a misconception involving Sardaar and Madhumati (Urvashi), the caretaker of Arshi and then to challenge Sardaar in a cowboy style face-off with guns and all.
So the check boxes get ticked off one by one, action, comedy, music, romance, drama and voila mission accomplished is what team Sardaar Gabbar Singh feels.
The film releases, the fans (most of them) seem to be liking it, while some fans feel it could have been a little better, fans of other stars try to pull the film down on social media and critics go nearly mad while reviewing the film. Amidst all this Pawan Kalyan retires to his farmhouse in the evening, smiling thanks to the opening day collections :).
Sardaar Gabbar Singh is an out and out Pawan Kalyan film, he manages to entertain of course and is comfortable playing to the gallery. As Pawan Kalyan the superstar he’s done quite well, but as Pawan Kalyan the writer he’s failed in a big way as there is nothing, absolutely nothing in the film that keeps us hooked apart from the charm of Pawan Kalyan and Kajal Aggarwal (she looks ravishing). If and when the 3rd film in the franchise is made, I just hope they manage to focus on the writing and get an entertaining plot as well. After all the charm of the leading man also has its limit right?