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/