Film Review: ‘Jai Ho’

Film Review: 'Jai Ho'

Bollywood king Khan tries his hand at being a people's superhero in a blunt-force bullet-time action extravaganza.

One wasn’t expecting much more than headbanging cheap thrills from the new Bollywood action movie “Jai Ho,” in which Salman Khan, a.k.a. The Muscles from Mumbai (that sobriquet is our own invention), carries to a new level of slapdash vulgarity the blunt-force, post-“Matrix” style of action moviemaking that rules the roost now in Hindi cinema. When you set your sites that low, and still emerge disappointed two-and-a-half-hours later, that’s a sad day at the movies. Because Salman Khan is one the fabled Three Khans, Bollywood’s top film stars for over two decades, the earnings of “Jai Ho” are being measured against the recent huge hits of Shah Rukh Khan (“Chennai Express”) and Aamir Khan (“Dhoom 3”). At $3.5 million for its first two days of domestic release, about half what those record-breaking pics pulled in, “Jai Ho” is so far considered only an “average” hit.

Start with the fact that we have no idea what Khan’s character in the film, Jai Agnihotri, does for a living — although we do learn that he was once in the Army, until he was cashiered for disobeying a superior in border to rescue a throng of refugee orphans in picturesque tattered rags. Now as a civilian, Jai is incorrigible: Whenever he encounters a fellow citizen in need, he can’t resist the urge to jump in.

When a beggar girl is knocked down and injured at an intersection, Jai pummels the perpetrator and pulls him through the erupting windshield of his car. Jai goes to high school classes to serve as a stand-in writer during exams for a lovely girl who unfortunately has no hands. He’s for all intents and purposes a superhero, wielding a steel I-beam like a cricket bat and barely flinching when an actual cricket bat is shattered against his thick neck and skull, creating a shimmering back-lit cloud of slo-mo splinters.

The film is a remake of the over-the-top Telugu-language hit “Stalin: Man for the Society” (2006), whose writer and director, A.R. Murugadoss, also created “Ghajini” (2005), a bullet-time action duplicate of “Memento” that was re-made to huge success in 2008, in Hindi, by Aamir Khan (“Dhoom 3 “). Murugadoss himself directed the remake, so he can be held at partly responsible for getting Bollywood hooked on the uncut adrenaline of South Indian-style extreme action.

Salman Khan was the first actor to follow Aamir down the bullet-time path, reviving his flagging career in 2009 with “Wanted” (2009), a violent crime film, which was followed in short order by “Dabangg” (2010) and ” Bodyguard” (2011). Once a perpetually boyish and likable romantic leading man, Salman Khan has seemingly committed himself, as he approaches 50, to becoming “The People’s Man,” as the “Jai Ho” posters put it — a tireless equalizer driven to distraction by the contagion of injustice. “Stalin” was a punch drunk variation on “Pay it Forward,” and “Jai Ho” retains that premise.

“Your ideology has united many people,” says Jai’s sister, played by the splendid actress Tabu. (Stately-tall and with the profile of an Egyptian princess, Tabu is operating here several kilometers beneath her gifts.) Despite her assurances, though, it would be hard to say exactly what Jai’s “ideology” consists of. All he ever really says is that he hates those who “Think about [themselves] and to hell with the people.”

The people in “Jai Ho” include throngs of uniformed schoolgirls, enough of them to fill a sports arena, who dance behind the stiff-moving Khan in his big production numbers. There is also a string of salt-of-the-earth supporting characters such as an upright Minister (Mohnish Bahl), a kindly cab driver (Mahesh Manjrekar) and, our favorite, a rock-jawed army captain (Suniel Shetty) who rides to the rescue, on a freeway, in a tank, to ferry the wounded Jai to the hospital.

In a chilling sequence, the sneering head bad guy, a corrupt Minister played by veteran Bollywood icon of evil Danny Denzongpa, is swarmed and presumably torn apart by a crowd of “the people.”

To be clear: this is not a snobbish knock on populist “entertainers.” Far from it. There’s nothing easier to like than a tear-jerking, action-packed melodrama that knows no shame. But a minimal amount of skill and sensitivity are required, lest at the end of the experience we lie back feeling used and embittered, eager to catch the first bus home and drink ourselves to sleep.

Film Review: 'Jai Ho'

Reviewed at Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino, Calif., Jan. 24, 2014. Running time: 141 MIN.

Production

An Eros International Worldwide presentation of a Sohail Khan production in association with Pacific Ventures. Produced by Sunil Lulla, Sohail Khan. Executive producer, Prapti Doshi Moorthy. Co-producers, Zahir Khan, Parvez Khan.

Crew

Directed by Sohail Khan. Screenplay, Dilip Shukla, based on "Stalin: Man for the Society" directed by A. R. Murugadoss, written by A. R. Murugadoss and the Paruchuri Brothers. Camera (color), Santosh Thundiyil; editor, Ashish Amrute; music, Sajid Ali, Wajid Ali, Devi Sri Prasad, Amal Malik; lyrics, Sajid Ali, Irfan Kamal, Armaan Malik, Kausar Munir, Danish Sabri, Sameer; choreographers, Shaikh Jani Basha, Mudassar Khan; background score, Sandeep Shirodkar; production designer, Sabu Cyril; costume designers, Ashley Rebello, Alvira Khan AgntFernandeshotri; sound designer, Jitendra Singh; re-recording mixers, Leslie Fernandes, Ajay Kumar; visual effects supervisor, Praveen Bareria; special effects supervisor, Agnelo D'Souza; stunt coordinators, David Judge, A. Arasukumar, K. Ravivarma (BLore).

With

Salman Khan, Tabu, Daisy Shah, Sana Khan, Danny Denzongpa, Suniel Shetty, Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Nadira Babbar, Genelia D'Souza, Naman Jain, Mahesh Thakur, Resham Tipnis, Ashmit Patel, Yash Tonk. (Hindi dialogue)

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  1. rohan says:

    kutte bhokte bhut h par sher nhi bante

  2. h says:

    R u following and copying a review?
    I liked it. Its my first Salman movie I liked…i think u got carried away with one or two reviews u hve seen

  3. SJA says:

    Hey David, Have u really watched Jai Ho?? Review your review on Jai Ho, you should identify many errors in it.

    The Movie is good, even Non Salman Khan Fans like me liked the message.. Box Office Collections are not huge.. Because: 1. It is not a holiday season, 2. the ticket prices are low..

  4. Khizer Khan says:

    About the earnings of Jai Ho: I think the reason behind this is the “Salman’s support to Modi”. The statement given by salman has hurt his fans. Jai Ho itself reminds the 2002 Gujarat violence. Danny Denzongpa has played the character of Modi.

    Modi ki support karna Salman ko bahut menhga padha..

  5. Khizer Khan says:

    This is one of the best movies of not oly Salman but also of Bollywood. Very good movie with a good message and also shows the clear picture of Politicians. and the reviews given by the critics makes no scenes at all. Comparing “Jai Ho” with “Chennai Express” does’nt justifies. Who ever consider this as average Hit, I suggest them to Watch it again n again n again till they get the message.

  6. Aysha says:

    I am not a Salman Khan fan but I watched the film today and loved it. I wasn’t bored liked I was in Dhoom 3, yes it’s pure entertainment but with a message that if we want to change humanity we need to do it ourselves.

  7. vidhyasagar says:

    Really awesome movie…..jai ho plz watch this movie….. Very well msg in this film…….i love u Salman khan

  8. suraj says:

    Abe saale to chennai exp me kya tha srk dipika ke piche bhagta rehta hai or repeated dialogue maarta rehta he with overacting, aur dhoom 3 me airf aamir ki acting acchi thi baaki sab bakwaas tha…

  9. meraj says:

    critics think
    they are judges of the film industry

    arey Bhai saab
    itna dum hai Toh khud ek film banao aur let us decide….
    dhoom3 aur chennai express me a is a kya dekh liye

    these critics are probably bribed

  10. Usman Aslam says:

    It was freaking awesome the film was really good with a great message and it didn’t have any matrix shit! I don’t know why the hell you critics are saying negative shit!! Probably getting paid to right that fake crap!

  11. Reggie says:

    not sure y reviews are bad. i saw the film and loved it. Are all these negative reviews paid ones?

  12. sushil says:

    sallu moive really ossam bt janta jise chahe use sky pr baitha de or nhi to sky pr baithe ko jameen pr gira de…………..jai ho

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