Wanted (2009): He-Man. Superman. Salman.

Salman Khan wearing a He-Man shirt instead would be more appropriate, but the truth is, it wouldn't matter. He fights and looks like He-Man, occasionally wears a Superman shirt, and commands as much respect from walls and wall hangings as does Spider-Man. Yes, it's no bird or plane, or larger-than-life (and conventional) superhero. It's an impulsive but kindhearted, wayward but focused, fierce but likable, and very human, Salman! :)

If you think that first paragraph is silly -- and you might if you dismiss superhero/gangster/action flicks as trivial guy cry -- Wanted is probably not for you. However, if there's even an iota of you that enjoys good guys (and gals) versus bad guys (and gals), presented in a classic masala format, Wanted is most definitely for you.

Fans of Salman shall find much cause for celebration, because his performance here proves he is second to none in this kind of film. Shweta at Apni East India Company and I watched Wanted together and certainly agree on this, and this joint review concludes at this post at her blog.

Radhe (Salman) is a gangster in Bombay, and is sought by many for his 'special skills'. The Bombay underworld is notorious for its ruthlessness to all, countless connections in law enforcement, and support from elected politicians. It is also incredibly interconnected. Each of these traits is on display here, and Radhe is in the midst of it all because of who he is. His peers know he would kill them too if the price were right. Yet, they know they need him. Such is Radhe's ferocity. You know the rest. It's the survival of the fittest, and the lion is the king the rest will conspire against.

Of course, Salman is in fine form. We were saying in the September releases post, this film caters to his strengths, and does he have a ball with it or what? Watch him switch gears from silly to serious, loving, and downright fierce, and do it all convincingly. He's always been really good as a filmi street fighter, and he has ample room to showcase just how effortlessly he can do well. There's even a scene in the first 15 minutes, at a warehouse, which reminds of an Amitabh Bachchan dishoom-dishoom sequence in the amazing Deewaar (1974), written by Salman's father! (Only comparing the scenes, never the films.)

Sure, he knows the art of fighting. But he's dancing really, really well too (credit director Prabhudeva), and is as animated as he is known to be. He's also ably supported by a lovely Ayesha Takia, whose acting and appearance are extremely well-complemented by her classy wardrobe (in this song, for example). The comic timing they share is noteworthy, although not all jokes are. While some of the humor involving Takia and a landlord is very ordinary (and unnecessary), it is not difficult to overlook given it doesn't add much creep to an action film .

The supporting actors are excellent and very well cast. Mahesh Manjrekar, Prakash Raj, Vinod Khanna and Inder Kumar, are all effective. This is the first I recall having seen of Raj, and he's quite brilliant. A very special shout-out to Mahek Chhal, a bad gal named Shayana in the film, who is a sheer joy to watch in her Lara Croft avatar, and in a song in which she really should have been the singular point of focus.

The music (Sajid-Wajid) is a mixed bag, and its integration often a reminder of the 1970s-90s' style of soundtrack inclusions (read pointless). The actors and choreographers make something of little, which is why most songs make for fun entertainment. (Listen to all songs at this IndiaFM link.) Our guess is this one was edited out for length -- could someone in India please confirm if your print has it?

Bombay and the way it is pictured throughout is apt. Shots of the roadway mentioned most often at this blog (that would be Marine Drive, but of course!) give way to the alleys infested with criminals, giving a sense of the extremes the city is rightfully associated with. A scene with the Haji Ali dargaah is used to good effect in pinpointing the disconnect in practice between the ideal and actual. A scene in which the villains speed by what sure looks like the Wankhede Stadium (of cricket) is critical. A definite highlight throughout is the cinematography.

No mention of Bombay and this film would be complete without specific mention of the beautifully picturized and slightly addictive 'Jalwa', with the colorful and spectacular festivities of Ganesh Chathurthi. I've enjoyed the festivities in the city on several occasions, there's hardly anything overdone about the grandeur with which it is showcased here. Here's a cool video on its making, featuring Prabhudeva, Salman, Boney Kapoor, and Sajid-Wajid (if the video below does not work, please visit this page):

My only big complaint with Wanted is that it goes by too fast! It's a fun action entertainer at its core and that is where it is at its strongest. Don't watch it for the plot or screenplay (this would've been much better with more seriousness, less masala, and less juvenile comedy) -- it's not all intended to make sense, and is self-aware in its approach. Watch it for Salman and the rest of the cast who never relent in their pursuit to entertain. Prabhudeva has managed to assemble a solid cast that might not be immensely challenged, but certainly seem to have had fun with their involvement in this, which (as is often the case) translates to a fun viewing experience.

Now, please head over to Apni East India Company here for lots more on the film!

Movie rating: 3.75/5 (Very good!)
This easily cracks my top five for the year. Definitely getting the DVD.

Music rating: 3/5 (Above average)
Works for the film because of the choreography, although the songs aren't all needed.

My classification: R (for language, violence)

Official website: http://www.Wanted-theFilm.com/

Also see:


Bhargav Saikia said...

I haven't seen this yet. Don't really know if I'll enjoy a Salman Khan movie..well, I should give it a try maybe. 3.75 is a good rating :-)

memsaab said...

Ha! I've had a sneaking suspicion all along that I would want to see this, and all the reviews I've read confirm it. Waiting for the DVD!

theBollywoodFan said...

Bhargav: This one has commercial Bollywood written all over it, so if you're fine with that, see it. If you're looking for sensible cinema, look elsewhere. I guess it does make a lot more sense than Aladdin, though ;)

Memsaab! If you have a high tolerance for the core masala format (and I know you do), there's a good chance you'll like it, provided the violence and language aren't a big turnoff. As a (former) fan of the World Wrestling Federation, I rather enjoyed the action =)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I am almost tempted to go back and rewatch it- I'll see if I can convince some ppl to come along :) Its like watching a live anime- maybe Grand Theft Auto- San Andreas , just much much better!

Anonymous said...

Salman did a fabulous job with Wanted. He did not sleep walk through it. He believed in the script and worked his butt off. But still.... i much preferred the original telugu Pokiri. Mahesh Babu is Coolness personified. Try as hard as he may, Salman just couldn't match up to Mahesh Babu.

theBollywoodFan said...

Shweta: Why am I not surprised? :) Love the analogies! That one instant in which he's talking to Takia and getting the bad guys without looking their way is just amazingly cool (truly mean it, talk about multi-tasking!)!

Anonymous: Everyone seems to like Pokiri and Mahesh Babu, and I'll definitely hope to see it to get some perspective. Salman was great here. Do you think he appeared to be challenged more by the choreography than by the script?

Aditi said...

I am excited to see it! Although, I think Salman has been looking very tired lately. I hope his acting hasnt grown tired !

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Aditi! That's been a reasonable criticism in the recent past, but is hardly an issue in Wanted. As I was telling Bhargav and Memsaab above, I think how much you like this will depend on your tolerance for classic masala and action (and the occasional comedy gone comically wrong). :)

Pitu said...

Yay, I can leave comments again! Ok, I think I will give this a try since :

1) I love Sallu romances, comedies and dramas.. ok fine his movies as a general rule and

2) I do love masala action esp the 80s kind like Tridev, Tezaab, Ram Lakhan etc. I think the only masala action I don't like is gangwar stuff that RGV makes :p

3) Also, as good as Pokiri might be, I really have not enjoyed my few forays into Telugu cinema. I genuinely like Tamil films, but Telugu is a different ballgame altogether.

My only issue with this is Ms. Takia. I cannot stand the woman and will prolly skip the parts she is in. Hehe.

Nicki said...

As much as I love Mahesh Babu in Pokiri, I love Sallu more overall! Now, I'm excited. You and Shweta said great things.

Anonymous said...

Adab Bollywoodfanji

You have seen Prakrash Raj in Bomarillu.

He is a truly talented actor. Some of his must watch movies include "Asai" (tamil - was awesome as a villian), Mozhi (tamil - he is one of the heroes - his home production), Abhiyum Nanum (Tamil - his home production and he is Trisha's Dad in the movie), Okkudu (Telugu - masala movie full of fighting - Mahesh Babu and Bhumika Chawla - Prakash is the villain as the Dad. He recently won the National Award for acting in a non commercial movie by Priyadarshan called "Kanchivaram" which is set to release in India on 1 October. There are lots of other Prakash Raj movies.

Anon from DU!

theBollywoodFan said...

Pitu: Those are all good reasons to see Wanted. I wouldn't worry much about Takia, she's quite good and in some ways, almost essential to the plot.

I'd be more worried about the brand of comedy (mixed bag) and language, but again, they're evenly distributed across the film, not enough to disrupt the flow in the goings on in individual segments. Either way, I'm sure you'll have fun observations to share!

Tridev, you say! Remember discussing a few months ago that I *so* need to revisit. Have only fond memories. Still remember the songs, actresses (of course), and a jeep =)

theBollywoodFan said...

Nicki: By now, you've figured out this is mandatory viewing for Salman fans. Wouldn't wait!

Adab Anonymous from Down Under! How are you, and how was your trip to India? So glad you mentioned Bomarillu. I had a feeling I had seen him before, and that's where! He's absolutely a classy actor, just amazing. And thanks so much for the recommendations! I have so many films to catch up on...

Joss said...

Oh dear, I don't know why Salman Khan is admired so much. The last thing I saw him in was Yuuvraj. My son was watching and we both laughed out loud at that shot where he peers out from behind a door, wearing that silly cap. 'Peek-a-hoo!' my son shouted. And that has now become Salman's nickname round here! 'Oh look, there's Peek-a-hoo again!' we often shout. Because, he still gets loads of work despite his face. Maybe I just haven't seen the best of him yet. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

He's definitely in better form here than in Yuvvraaj. Thats funny. It'd be interesting to see what nicknames you all come up with for some of his earlier films. Some actor/director was saying recently that Salman is popular despite his movies, not because of them. The 2000s have certainly proven this to be true, although something like Wanted showcases his appeal quite well.

Have you seen Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989), Saajan (1991), and Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun (1994)? I'd start with those. There's also a very silly and truly fun comedy he made with Aamir in 1994 called 'Andaz Apna Apna', but I'm not sure I'd recommend it given its cultural alignment with the primary target.

All: Please feel free to share your Salman favorites, and recommendations!


Pitu said...

Ooh, Andaz Apna Apna is my fave Bwood comedy EVER! Other than that, I love Sallu in Hum Apke Hain Kaun, Maine Pyar Kiya, Saajan, Partner (I loved the Sallu-Chi Chi jodi), Biwi No.1 (mindless but super fun), Judwaa, Karan Arjun (very masala but super entertaining), Hum Saath Saath Hain (love the confrontation with Reema Lagoo about sautelapan) and I was pleasantly shocked by how much I liked Tere Naam. I thought it would be horrible but it was good! The only movie in which I was not bowled over by him (and it was a huge hit) is Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. I basically hated everything abt it (and I abhor Bhansali!) except Ajay Devgan and the music. Yuvraaj was a humongous disappointment but I have hated all of Ghai's last few disasters so no surprises there.

Darshit said...

step 1:
Open wiki page about Sallu bhai.
Step 2:
Think how many you want to choose.
Step 3:
Get confused and copy+paste most of them :D

Thats how one should select Salman's favorite movies. My personal fav are Maine Pyar Kiya, Kurbaan, Suryavanshi [can you believe it???] Andaz apna Apna, Hum Aapke...., Khamoshi, Pyar kiya toh darna kya, HDDCS, Lucky, Salam-e-ishq!!! and this one. After KKHH and Pyar kiya toh...I would love to see both Sallu and Kajol together.

I completely agree with the first para of this post. He indeed is Heman in this one. I am never a fan of such movies, but its Sallu who drove me crazy about this movie. Also the droolworthy Aayesh Takia. I loved all cute moments involving her. Remember scene when she's gonna confess her love, camera revolves around her toes, or the one in which she's talking on phone, making circles on paper?? short but sweet moments captured.

And yes, the song u are talking about, is now added in the movie. 'Added Attraction' you know, :)

Saadia said...

You thought it went by fast? Haha...once you see the very-well-made-but-for-its-length, What's Your Raashee, you'll reconsider.

And yay, Salman all the way!

Joss said...

Pitu has explained everything! I too loathed Salman in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanaam, and that was the first thing I saw him in. I too also, however, loved Ajay Devgan in this film, plus the music. Then there was Yuuvraj, which Pitu also does not rate. I did, however, really really enjoy Andaz Apna Apna, although mainly because of Aamir. So, I'll give Salman one more chance, and have see if I can find some of those titles Pitu recommends, since we seem to have similar outlooks.

Pitu said...

Haila! Ui ma! Someone following my advice ;-D Joss, I would add Darshit's reco of 'Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya' c-starring Kajol. The Sallu-Kads pair is just adorable :) and the movie is tremendous fun!

It's not that Salman is a bad actor, he's really good in certain genres (romances, comedy) but he doesn't fare very well in dramas *unless* the director is capable. ('Tere Naam' being a really good example of Salman shining in a difficult script) If he is stuck in a Subhash Ghai production, there's no hope. He unfortunately cannot rise above the drivel the likes of Ghai create. But give him a romance or comedy and he excels.

I would love to see him directed by Mani Ratnam, Gowarikar, Hirani and Farhan Akhtar. I think he'd be swell.

theBollywoodFan said...

Pitu: Those Salman films are a lot of fun, although I'm not sure I've seen 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'. 'Tere Naam' was great, that long hair and jacket at the beginning! Style Bhai standard, for sure. :) Have you seen 'Kyun Ki' with Salman and Kareena? I rather liked it too, but it is tear-inducing, to say the least.

You know what I think of Yuvvraaj, don't see how someone could complain about it and not complain about 'Wanted', when only the formulaic approaches are concerned. Both have a core 80s' narrative. Then again, I might be too swayed by Katrina, its music, and the brilliant art direction, in that order. :)

I like bits Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for exactly the opposite reasons, it went downhill for me after the first half and the intro of Devgan!

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit: That's a neat approach, hehe. Glad you mentioned Khamoshi, loved it for Manisha and the music. And Nana Patekar, who's always at his A-game. (Haven't seen him in a while.)

Ayesha Takia's great, wish she had more to do. If Lara Dutta can learn to swim for the upcoming 'Blue', Takia could learn to fire a gun and throw a few punches in *this* film! A couple of those scenes at the gym were just fine, esp. laughed out loud at the Mughal-e-Azam reference.

Thanks for the bit on the song. I only remembered it because of the beach in the trailer. =)

theBollywoodFan said...

Saadia! You'll enjoy it because you're a Salman fan, but you have been warned about the nature of the comedy, so it's something to overlook. And that's sad about What's Your Raashee, they seem to have had so much in place but for less of an issue with editing well. Seems not even great music could've saved it. A belated Eid Mubarak to you and yours! :)

Joss: Cannot imagine anyone but Aamir and Salman in Andaz Apna Apna. To be honest, I think they were both equally good! Pitu's seconded Darshit's recommendation of 'Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya' starring Salman and Kajol, I'd third it! Check out Pitu's blog for more by her, she's got some insightful reviews too.

PS Pitu: Agree on Salman and his acting, and his working with good directors. It'd be great to see him in a Gowariker film some day!

Pitu said...

"I'm not sure I've seen 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'"

I got 2 words for you- TABU & SONALI :-D Lotta eye candy for you, bud!

theBollywoodFan said...

Wow dude, TABU?!! That's really all I need to know. 8) You obviously know me well, Sultan (mem)saab!

lifeandglory said...

I agree with most of the gentle folks out here discussing the Great movie WANTED by none other than our Dear Sallu Bhai.What I didn't like about the movie is the unnecessary violence and the helplessness portrayed by the leading actress-That's our Ayesha!Thanks folks!

theBollywoodFan said...

Welcome to the blog, and thank you for your comment, lifeandglory.

The helplessness portrayed by Ayesha's character was bothersome, but it might have been aimed at portraying the helplessness experienced by countless vulnerable members of the Indian society at large (which is fact; a quick check of the headlines in any major Indian newspaper is enough to understand the magnitude of the problem). In some ways, it justifies Salman's actions in the film, doesn't it?

Thanks again, and do stop by again!

Kristine said...

Hi there. Again an interesting review. And again I do not agree (is this getting a habit?)... :-)

As in Ghajini I have a problem with overdone violence and "an eye for an eye"-messages. But I try to start at the beginning.

If there has to be talking for several minutes right at the beginning about who is who and why that one is fighting with this one, something is wrong with the script. Paralel with this not ending explanations (and the subtitles to those), the credits run.... But not plain but with a lot of blood and some more scraps of the storyline in the background with more blood and killing... Way to much... Who was that? Who is Golden and why had Datta Soandso to die? You don't know? Never mind. And what for does the new chief of the police pray? Forgiveness in advance? For what? I guess the bad script... :-) Sorry.

I think Salman did what he knows best... Being himself. There is no fine shading of expressions, no filed body language. There is Salman and nothing else who developes in the "I'm not so bad"-moments a lot of charme... That he enjoys playing Radhe you can clearly see. What else you can clearly see is the time the shooting took. Changing length of hair and body mass index are only the obvious things. I think he would do much better if he would concentrate on one project at a time and not on several at the same time over 2 or 3 years. And... I waited... during the entire movie I waited for his monstrous bracelet to come off his wrist and hurt someone severely... That to belongs to the authenticity of a character... The chain belongs to Salman the private person. If he can't seperate the privat person from the film character, how can for the audience step the character in front of the actor...? But maybe this is volitional... You don't get Radhe or any other fictional character, you get Salman.

Radhe birches and kills his way through Mumbai looking for.... what? And why so excapist (hope this is the right english word). One minute the action is very well executed and believable, the next they are horribly overdone and due to really bad wire-work lousy.

Ayesha is cute but withouth her and the little lovestory (I'm sure they wrote her in to satisfy the masala-lovers), the story would have been slicker... But on the other hand... :-)

Prakash Raj is great, stylish and a superb villain. Too sad that his dialogues fall into a bottomless abyss... Very funny was the scene where he strays through huge rooms and endless alleyways to end up on deck of a tiny little nutshell in the middle of the ocean....LOL

The songs.... O..O.. Let's do bailar... ok... of course... just after Love me, love me, love me.... Instead of the first choreo I would have loved a really nice piece on Radhes Mughal-e-Azam-Dream after he sees the girl for the first time... That would have fitted much better...

For me Wanted is somewhat entertaining, to long, to loud, to brutal, to confused - an at most average masala-entertainer...


Oh... One more thing... Why are there lately a lot of farting and spitting "jokes" in movies? Me not likes... :-)

Take care

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Kristine! Don't ever worry about disagreeing, *please*. Each film means something different to its consumers, which is what makes filmmaking (and all art) a lot more complex than it is given credit for.

Anyone looking for a good script in Wanted would be disappointed. We agree completely on that. But I thought the violence here (but only from Radhe's end) was a lot more justified than in Ghajini!

Maybe the violence in Wanted didn't bother me as much by the end, because of Salman's role. I loved how they were able to pull off the surprise factor. I am more vulnerable than most to filmmakers, but I totally didn't see that coming, so it worked for me.

Also agree on getting Salman, but that's precisely what the movie was selling all along, and what the audience wanted too! He does play Radhe well, doesn't he? Have you seen Salman in Heroes or Tere Naam? We see a very different side of him in those movies. He can definitely step it up when he wants to. And yes, he would definitely benefit from doing one movie at a time. (That hair!) Every actor would. But how many do that? (Note to self: Aamir spoils us with overall quality, he really does!)

'Escapist' is the perfect word, indeed. Which also leads to your very accurate point about satisfying masala-lovers with the love story in this. A core Bollywood film is probably the best way to describe Wanted. Worked well for that purpose.

And finally, I *love* your idea about having a song choreographed in that Mughal-e-Azam segment. That might have worked really well at the gym, for example! Ah, the possibilities!

Cheers. And thanks for stopping by. I should get to an Aamir classic one of these days.

PS: Yeah, don't know about those jokes either, they're rather disgusting. I saw Toy Story in 3D last night, and they had an extra segment at the end, with the end credits, where they resorted to one of those too. One would hope everyone would use more tasteful humor. Should be the focus of my next post. ;)

Nicki said...

Hey there!

I will post a full review soon and later comparisons.

Wanted is an awesome film. It's just like Pokiri but with Sallu & Bollywood style. Sallu is no Mahesh Babu. That's true but what people fail to realize is that Mahesh is no Sallu either.

As much as I absolutely love Mahesh, he's always done a bunch of action, masala movies.

Sallu is all that plus more. Not only that, Sallu is more believable in action roles than Mahesh.

My son was talking about how Sallu had the body of an action hero (Van Diesel, The Rock) more than Mahesh.

Plus Ayesha is more likeable than Ileana (from the Telugu Pokiri).

I refuse to sit and watch the Tamil Pokiri because Vijay does nothing for me. Even though I like Asin, I don't know if I can watch it.

The Tamil version literally just translates the Telugu songs into Tamil.

Unlike the Hindi version....at least the Hindi version, the songs are different.

Again, Sallu is amazing at the dancing! Much kudos to Prabhu Deva. That guy is amazing! He did a great job.

Prakash Raj seems to be the only one who has been in all three films - Telugu, Tamil, & Hindi versions. I'm sad that Mumaith Khan wasn't in the Hindi version. She rocks.

Okay, I've rambled on and on but I loved it :)

theBollywoodFan said...

All very interesting observations, Nicki. Thanks so much for stopping by, and really glad you enjoyed it! I'll look forward to your post on Wanted and comparisons to Pokiri.

That last scene in Wanted clearly shows Sallu has the best, most proportionately balanced physique of any actor in Bollywood! I was surprised he waited so long to take the shirt off, though. ;) That's a good comparison with The Rock.

Ayesha was really good here. And Salman dancing so well was a treat, I'm sure more so for his women fans! Mumaith Khan would've been a very interesting proposition, especially for the 'Le Le Le Mazaa Le' song! ;)