Favorite

'Sultan' rising 

New Bollywood film a must-see.

click to enlarge "SULTAN': Salman Khan stars.
  • "SULTAN': Salman Khan stars.

For several years now, the occasional Bollywood film has broken into the Top 10 of American box office rankings despite only meager attention from American media outlets. Little Rock has contributed to the success of Indian cinema in the United States, with the Rave screening various Bollywood blockbusters, the latest of which is "Sultan," a sports drama starring Salman Khan, a cross between George Clooney and Burt Reynolds who is perhaps the most successful actor working in Hindi-language cinema. This movie is an absolute must-see, a rip-roaring tale of respect and redemption that will restore the faith in cinema you lost with every iteration of the CGI-superhero.

"Sultan" is actually two movies in one — the rise of the sports legend from a humble background, and the return of said legend to the arena many years after his expiration date. The movie opens with Aakash Oberoi (Amit Sadh) in financial straits, his attempts to bring mixed martial arts to India floundering for lack of interest. On the advice of his father, he travels to the remote village of Haryana to try to recruit wrestling legend Sultan Ali Khan (Salman Khan) to spur some public interest. However, the Sultan he finds is a washed-up figure, working his rote job at the local water department and standing each night outside the temple to catch a glimpse of the woman he loves, a woman who acts as if he does not exist.

Aakash meets Govind (Anant Vidhaat Sharma), Sultan's oldest friend, and learns the wrestler's story. As it turns out, Sultan was nothing but an illiterate farmer's son who also worked installing satellite dishes until he met Aarfa (Anushka Sharma), daughter of the local wrestling coach and a wrestler herself. She spurns the advances of our hero until, through a series of training montages, he proves himself worthy of her love. They marry, and she becomes pregnant, ending temporarily her own ambitions, and she throws herself into his advancement on the world stage, on through the Olympics and various world championships. 

But our humble farmer's son grows more and more arrogant with each success, until one day he returns from abroad to confront a tragedy that he could have prevented had he not aimed so high and prioritized his family instead. Aarfa refuses to speak to her husband ever again, while Sultan, utterly distraught, gives up wrestling to take the humble job at the water department and stand each night outside the temple, only to be slighted by the wife he still adores.

Into this story steps Aakash with his offer of money and a chance at redemption. What follows is not only another series of training montages as the over-the-hill wrestler struggles to prepare himself for a strange sport and younger competitors, but also an emotional drama of dreams deferred, of a man and wife struggling with their worst nightmare, of the possibility of forgiveness and what it means to fight against fate and love and time.

"Sultan" clocks in at nearly three hours, but it never feels long; no moment ever feels just tacked on to the story for effect. Granted, the song-and-dance offerings of "Sultan" are tepid compared to the average Bollywood spectacle of choreography, but Ali Abbas Zafar's direction, during those rare musical numbers, feels organic, with the camera joining the action a la Alfonso Cuaron rather than observing from some remove. Too, Salman Khan and Anuska Sharma imbue their respective characters with such strength and wit as to make them genuine equals in the story.

"Sultan" is the rarest movie around — the action tearjerker that will have you crying at the same time that you grit your teeth and clench your fists in imitation of the fight you see taking place on the big screen. This is a wrestling movie with heart, a sports film that transcends the genre, a story that reminds you of the truly unique power of cinema.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Guy Lancaster

  • Lost, found, looking

    'Lion' is as fragmented as its hero's past.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Defiant

    'Elle' is the latest by director Paul Verhoeven.
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • Spouse and symbol

    Larrain's 'Jackie' an uneven story of the public and the private.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

    Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
  • Director to resign from state court administrative office

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp announced today the resignation of J.D. Gingerich, long-time director of the administrative office of the courts.
  • UA's Walton School eyes downtown location for executive ed program

    The Walton College of Business is working to expand its executive education by opening an office in downtown Little Rock that would offer non-degree programs to the health, banking and finance and retail industries in Central Arkansas, the school confirmed today.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation