Wanted—the Review

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“Wanted” is not so much a movie but a rip in the space-time continuum, a relativistic worm-hole through which the Bollywood of the 80s has crashed into the 2009s bringing back the glory days of single-screen chawanni-flying and CT-marooing dhisoom dhashoom action and chakoom chukum “abhe chamiya ek chummi de ke ja” romancing into the Rs 500 nacho-selling world of fancy multiplexes.

Take that Sanjay Gupta and all you Tarantino- Leone worshipers who think its cool to take inspiration from Spaghetti Westerns and pulp fiction while neglecting our glorious heritage of Garam Halawa—“Wanted” is a box-office cracker raking in so much green that will make you turn wannabes green.

And take that Aamir Khan— “Wanted” is as non-nonsensical as your “Ghajini” but with none of the six-pack “inspired by Memento” pretentiousness that characterized that pile of hot steaming turd.

Prabhudeva’s “Wanted”, evidently a frame-by-frame lift from his own “Pokkiri” has no story. Absolutely none. Its DNA contains the nucleotides of Action, Song and Random Act of Villainy arranged in a repeating pattern. There is no ambiguity, no non-linearity, no homo-erotic friendships and absolutely no attempt at character or narrative development.

Instead there is plenty of Neanderthal machismo coming from the greatest caveman of our times—-Salman Khan. With his puffed-up “sharaabi” cheeks he now resembles his dear friend Shoaib Akthar and when he moves thrashing the bad men to pulp sending themselves into orbit with an escape-velocity imparting fauladi mukka, this is as close to a human embodiment of a 30 compartment steam express that you are going to get, a spectacle of violence  sure to send shivers down the spines of pavement dwellers and endangered species.

Did I say Neanderthal? I think I did. If you believe that women should be characterized  as well-rounded independent people in a movie then maybe “Wanted” is not for you. Well let me qualify that.  Women are represented as “well rounded” but that’s about it.In a throw-back to the 80s, there is nothing size-zero (except perhaps the magnitude of her histrionic abilities) about the heroine Ayesha Takia (the hero calls her a “zyada charbi-wala gosht” in one scene and in another sparklingly classy sequence tells her “Aisa dhakka naheen maarne ka..hum log mens log hain na…delicate delicate jagga main taqleef pohunchta hai”) and the only reason she is in the movie is because there are two reasons she is in the movie. And the camera spends a lot of time highlighting those facts.

There is the old-school Johnny “Liver” type comedy sequences and in yet another another shocking throw-back, the greatest of Shakti Kapoor is channeled by Mahesh Manjrekar playing a lip-licking lecherous cop who along with the other galaxy of other bad men engages in not-so-random acts of  shoulder-ripping “Main kutta hoon jawani ko soong leta hoon” depravity of the “Lijjat” (=Le Ijjat) kind, the type one never thought one would see after Y2K.

Mention must be made of Prabhu-deva’s direction style which is Godard-style God-ly and Dard-ly. If you think only Quentin can do “in references” you haven’t experienced Prabhu-deva who doffs his cap to some of the greatest sequences of masala moviedom, all without even realizing doing it. For instance, the villain (Ghani bhai) takes off his dark glasses and the camera goes close to focus on his evil visage in a tribute scene to Gulshan Grover doing exactly the same thing and saying “Kismaatttt” in the movie “Aatish”. And then as a crowning glory, there is a “maut ka date fix” kind of sequence which is a shout-out to the greatest movie of all time.

But my most favorite moment was when during the climax the villain tries to set Salman’s shirt on fire and he takes it off and Prabhu-deva holds the camera on him, almost extorting the crowd to get up on their seats and throw everything at the screen.

It was at that precise instant that my mind was sucked back into the time-hole as a magic slideshow of images flashed before my eyes—-of the original Slumdog Anil Kapoor punching evil men with his fists on fire and then flailing his arms in an epileptic dance with heavyweight Farah to “Jab jab teri nazar se milta hai mera nazar” as gulaaal bombs burst behind him in “Rakhwala”, of Sunny Deol thrashing the living daylights of bad men in “Lootere” as a buxom Juhi cavorted on the beach to “Main teri raani tu raaja mera” sending my hormones into overdrive and  Jeetendra, in white trousers and shoes slapping  a 250 lb behemoth gunda in “Zahreelay”: “Yeh is hapte ke liye. [Slap]. Yeh aagle haapte ke liye. [Slap] Aur yeh us ka baad ke liye [mega slap], of Jackie Shroff breaking a brick with his forehead in a movie (most probably “Sadak Chaap”)  and of course Prabhuji catching bullets and doing “aisi ki taisi” with Newtonian mechanics in countless celluloid classics.

Awash in nostalgia and with tears steaming down my eyes I, a child of the 80s, once again felt “wanted”.

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59 thoughts on “Wanted—the Review

  1. Good but two fallacies – Its a remake of the Telugu hit Pokiri (which Prabhu Deva remade first in Tamil as Pokkiri and then in Hindi)

    secondly, the “aisa dhakka nai maarneka” dialogue was told to the small pillow…I mean Takia’s brother on the train.

  2. Sigh I miss the 80s! Though I can’t believe you remembered “Aatish”… To me that was the most stylish movie ever made (till then.) And with the deadliest name to boot! Though looking back, the bi-erotic way Aditya Panscholi touches Sanjay Dutt’s biceps and says “Baba, tere sar ki kasam… Agar aisi body meri hoti na, toh main saare hindustan ki ladkiyon ko hila deta” never struck me!!! Let me now get off my butt and book tickets for the Sallu extravaganza! 🙂

  3. Haven’t seen Pokiri yet – But ppl were saying it was one of the biggest hits of all time. I thought i would catch up with ‘wanted’. But looking at the trailers – with Salmaan Khan doing a Rajnikanth – i decided not to watch it. Your review confirms my horrors.

    Looks like after a few great movies, Bollywood is back to its ‘aukaad’. All typical 80s/90s movies – be it Kaminey.Kaminey or Dil Bole Hadippa.

  4. “….plenty of Neanderthal machismo coming from the greatest caveman of our times…”

    “……the only reason she is in the movie is because there are two reasons she is in the movie. And the camera spends a lot of time highlighting those facts.”

    I bow to thee, definitely the re-incarnation of Sanjaya the narrator of Kurukshetra to the blind king DhritaRashtra.

  5. GreatBong,

    Wasn’t it an awesome 80’s movie. Mahesh Manjrekar takes the cake with dialogues like ‘ Itni raat ko kidhar jaa rahin hain’ heroine ‘call center ko’ manjerkar ‘mujhey laga dhandey pe gayee thi kya ? Chl abhi mujhey talashi lene padegi’.

    The going to heroines mom ‘Chal tu teri beti ki shaadi ka tension mat le main usey rakh loonga’. ‘ Tu bhi itni buri nahin uskey ssath tera bhi khayal rakhunga’.

    And how about that ‘teri maa ki c** and teri maa ka b****’ totally UNWANTED scene forced in wanted. As you said it right its was trip down the nostalgic lane.

  6. Awesome review. I never thought I would watch this movie but your review has made me curious, especially, the shout-out to the greatest movie part.

    P.S. Some minor nitpicking –
    “Jab jab teri nazar se milti hai meri nazar” against “Jab jab teri nazar se milta hai mera nazar”
    “Yeh is hafte ke liye” against “Yeh is ‘hapte’ ke liye.”

  7. In a review with many witty lines, the best one for me was
    “And take that Aamir Khan— “Wanted” is as non-nonsensical as your “Ghajini” but with none of the six-pack “inspired by Memento” pretentiousness that characterized that pile of hot steaming turd.”

  8. a typical 80s dish dipped in south indian sauce … not my favorite cuisine of all times …..but it was at the very least better than RGV’s “Agyaat” 😛

  9. “And take that Aamir Khan— “Wanted” is as non-nonsensical as your “Ghajini” but with none of the six-pack “inspired by Memento” pretentiousness that characterized that pile of hot steaming turd.” –Exactly my thoughts! and now we have a our own super hero SAL MAN!

    @Anirban: Dil bole is very similar to water boarding and sleep deprivation’

  10. How long do you think it is going to be before Tarantino does a tribute to the classic Indian potboiler? Churumuri.com has it that Pokiri-Telugu>Pokiri-Tamil>Wanted. But Salman beig Salman is bound to say, so what? I am planning to watch all three over the weekend! No wussy Hollywood for me. It is mainstream Indian all the way!

  11. This comment is slightly off-topic, but is in the spirit of the post. The reference to Aatish got me to IMDb, where I stumbled on this classic review of a classic film. And to top this, the name of the movie is actually Aatish – Feel the Fire. Daag hai is pe!

    User Comments (Comment on this title)
    0 out of 1 people found the following comment useful.

    excellent, Fantastic and Superb, 29 September 2008

    Author: Liakot Ali from London
    Aatish is a action packed movie that was fun to watch and is amazing. It is a copy of John Woo’s Better Tomorrow, but Sanjay Gupta always copy’s oriental movies. He copied Zinda from classic korean film oldboy and Kaante from City on Fire. That was acceptable because Quentin Tarantino did the same for his debut film. Anyway Aatish has action and lots of it, with some romance and family drama added in. Sanjay Dutt suits that kind of role and does a good job as usual. Aditya Pancholi is outstanding as the best friend. Atul is not that great, they could of got someone else to play the younger brother with the grudge. Raveena Tandon is damn sexy and id like to spend the night with her. Karishma Kapoor is damn annoying in every film add this one too. Both actresses had a famous cat fight while filming the song in this film. I support Raveena any day, as Karishma is a known annoying brat that needs a slap or too.

  12. Aatish
    Aaditya Pancholi sitting and eating after getting his leg broken by the henchmen of Gulshan”Kismat” Grover.
    Sanjay Dutt enters
    ” Are Nawab, Kya hua”. Aadiya starts crying.
    Sanjay Dutt holds his hand and drags him.
    “Are Baba Ham Kaha Ja rahe hai”
    ” Teri Taang (Leg) Vaapas Lane Nawab “.

    The best scene ever.

  13. Ok stop the Aatish comments people. I was going to write a post on my favoritest movies ever and Aatish was going to be one of them. Please keep those comments reserved for that 🙂

    In brief, Aatish is a God movie, the like of which can never be made ! And BTW his legs were not broken they were chopped off…..

  14. Been going over your archives recently .. started off with that immortal interview of the most famous Shah …
    Wonderful coverage of a modern classic here GB!! IMHO Ayesha Takia has learned from the mistake of dor and will be concentrating on less taxing ventures in markets where movable assets get better valuation than that intangible IP thingy … of course she has her own reasons for being here i guess (though some say not entirely her own)
    @Tejaswi singed!!!

  15. The original Pokiri (Telugu) was directed by Puri Jagannath, who IMO, is one of the best commercial directors (pot boilers) in Indian mainstream.He writes a script in 3 days, gets the grammar etc corrected, and shoots the movie in 30-45 days. From start to theatrical release, his movies take around 90 days.And they usually rake in crores.

    The Telugu Pokiri had Ileana as the female lead – so gorgeous that your harmones are bound to get pumped up a bit.Just checkout some of her songs from Youtube. Here’s a song from Pokiri – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc4yRMQ-xHk

    Ashish Vidyarthi played the role of the lecherous cop in Telugu, and I suppose Mahesh Manjrekar would have done okay, but Ashish was awesome 🙂

    The Tamil Pokiri stars remake king Vijay, and of course Asin, who is probably a better actor than Ayesha.

    Yet to see Wanted, but I think the casting could have been better.Instead of Salman Khan, they should have gone for Hrithik, or even introduced Mahesh Babu to bollywood.And this would have been the perfect vehicle for Ileana’s bombay entry as well.

    Btw, any idea who did the item song? Mumaith Khan?

  16. all said and done, wanted is an unpretentious formula film, which delivers wht it promises. i have seen a lot of south indian films, and wanted is just like them.

  17. The glory days of single creen cinema with wolf whistles and “chavanni phek” scenes are over. Now we have filmmakers paying tribute to them kinda like what Tarantino does. Seeing how you reacted to the nostalgia, I think I need to watch it.

  18. what was with the dabba with pasta….i did not think that indians eat pasta in their dabbas everyday…at least in the telugu movie it was upma…what happened to good old “aloo ke parathe” and “gajar ka halwa”

  19. Too many amazing lines, too many lines to ROFL… loved to read your reviews. Wanted is turning out to be a mega hit.

    How do you manage to remember so many movies? I had gone to a cinema hall to see Atish. These were pre downloads, pre 5-in-1 DVD days. I didn’t even remember the movie till you started describing Baba and Nawab. Amazing…

  20. I guess that the best part of the movie is that almost everyone right from the good guy to the International Don has a sense of humour…

    ‘Abey, woh He-Man ka baap hai, Batman ka chacha hai, Bruce-lee ka nana hai woh; Last action hero hai‘. With these lines, enters Radhe (Salman Khan). I’d say it’s been a long long time but finally as Rakhi would put it ‘Mere Karan-Arjun aa gaye‘. Yes, the last action hero has arrived and how.

  21. @Skeptic

    And here comes another guy so proud of his region. God bless you. You’ll realize one day that India is not United States of India.

  22. Well this was a telugu/tamil Flick made for telugu/tamil people with their flavor.. saw the one in telugu.. was nice… haven’t seen the hindi one…Most probably will give it a miss.

  23. “this is as close to a human embodiment of a 30 compartment steam express that you are going to get, a spectacle of violence sure to send shivers down the spines of pavement dwellers and endangered species.”

    another superclassico

  24. Well, the review is nice, and damn I did watch the film, and how much I hated it- I regret wasting time and money watching this bullshit. And for Prabhu Dev doing Godardian ref and Tarantino, I’m sure both of them consciously or unconsciously do more than, references.

  25. Incidentally the Telugu Pokiri appears to be inspried by (but not a total copy of) “Yojimbo”. Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo seems to be the original whose style was imitated successfully by Clint Eastwood (in “Fist Full of Dollars”, a famous remake of Yojimbo), and by Amitabh Bacchan for his angry-young man roles.

    That said, Prabhu Deva + Salman Khan can’t be good. If only it were David Dhawan + Govinda…

  26. “……the only reason she is in the movie is because there are two reasons she is in the movie. And the camera spends a lot of time highlighting those facts.”

    Ha ha ..fatafati ..

  27. Completely urelated, but could you write a post on the whole Ambani gas tussle. I liked ur take on the finacial mess last year, and i’d like to know what you make of the gas dispute specifically as well as in general the whole Ambani brother vs brother thing.

  28. Great review.Wanted proves for sure that Salman is the only 100% pure crystalline Star we have. No effort, no going-by-the-method-acting jargon, he just stands and deliver the big hits.Look forward to Aatish!

  29. dude, we are waiting for another of your 80s classic film reviews and also your book, when is it coming out??? Will it be available at Crosswords? what will be it’s Keemat???

  30. How are Shoiab Akhtar and Salman Khan friends ? I thought the Khan divide would have made sure that Shoiab stays on the Mannat side and does not go towards Galaxy Apartment ? Would have been nicer though , getting rid of him from the KKR bandwagon would have become easier !!!

  31. sounds interesting. But alas, I was forced to watch another masterpiece from the alien world, Whats your rashee, apparently because it was a family movie !!!!

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  33. My heartiest disgraceful….fking… own created perody of all possible abuses to the cast and the crew of the most UNWANTED movie in entire cenematic history of bolloywood…I am now off to pickup RGV ki Aag for a decent dose of entertainment.

  34. Arnab…
    Trust us Tamils when we say that we absolutely despise ‘Pokkiri’. I was shocked to learn that the movie was being remade.
    We have parodied ‘Pokkiri’ to no end in a show called ‘Lollu Sabha’ which is like a ‘Scary Movie’ franchise which spoofs movies. It is all over youtube. In fact the spoof of ‘Pokkiri’ is the most famous one.

  35. WHAT ELSE do you expect ..Directed by Prabhu the Korangu Deva , and danced by Vijay in original ! its only you are lucky that you are able to co relate to something from out of 80s ! this is actually much worse ..Its a nightmare ! only if you forget to leave behind thinking greycells ..

  36. How can all of you forget this line “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di…uske baad toh main khud ki bhi nahin sunta!”

  37. Absolutely love reading your movie reviews but I am very impressed by your consistent patience and willingness to watch these obviously terrible movies and write reviews on them…
    I mean you clearly didn’t expect cinematic brilliance when you decided to watch a movie called Wanted with Sallu. Kudos for going through with it, as you have several times before.

    I would still watch this one for Ayeshas two reasons for being in the movie.

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  39. Pingback: Best Movies of 2009 | Science of Confusion

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