Veer: Good Music, a Massive Let-down

Song of the Day: ‘Pray for Rain’ by Massive Attack

veer-posterDisappointment does not even come close to describe what I feel about Veer. Salman Khan’s box-office charisma + technical grandeur and spectacle = a focused, coherent script …. NOT! God knows what director Anil Sharma was thinking.

It is such misguided vision that leads to the present audience sometimes preferring faceless, bizarre, or pretentious movies, because films like Veer fuel that belief that mainstream cinema is plain awful. 

Look, on the other hand, at what Anil took for granted — the stunning music (easily the best score in a period film in years, with Gulzar’s best work since Jaan-e-Mann) and Salman’s intense persona, finally made to look like a ferocious tiger who is confused about whether his main aim is to woo a girl (Zarine Khan) who is the daughter of his father’s chief enemy (Jackie Shroff), take revenge on this same evil man who has betrayed his tribe, or fight the British and win freedom for India.

Salman Khan’s story had potential — somewhere there was this analysis of the inborn factionalism of the sub-continent that led it to allowing a minuscule number of outsiders to become its rulers. That could have struck a chord, if given due importance and developed. 

There was a historical element too: Veer is a Pindari, a Northern Indian tribe that are said to have sown the seeds of rebellion against the British after the 1857 upheaval was suppressed.

But the screenplay woefully takes a convoluted and facile course. Instead of concentrating on the essentials of the message, and telling a good story and weaving in a love angle for mass appeal à la any epic period film, it resorts to a long list of mistakes: ’70s and early 80s melodrama; asinine comedy (Sohail Khan even in 1870 is the buffoon to ridiculous lengths, complete with Salman dancing vigorously with a broken leg;  hammy side villains; lack of attention to authenticity in dialogues, the costumes, and the body language. In the second half, Veer’s haistryle and costume change at whim from rural tribal to lavish gladiator-like get-ups to a slick 19th-century Briton’s riding outfit! And why is that? Because Veer and his brother have earlier been sent by the tribal chief to London to study the psyche of the British so that they can match their cunning!

The climax drives the last nail in the coffin, especially for Salman Khan fans, with the over-melodramatic exchange of lines between and his father (a miscast Mithun Chakraborty). And the absence of a strong, single antagonist takes the punch away from the script.

So what’s the plot? It’s there somewhere in the text above and can pieced together with a little effort. But it takes really an effort to sit through this 3-hour film, which is just a mélange of masala with little attention to quality or judicious blending.

Zarine Khan is okay, but this lookalike of Katrina Kaif is not even likely to give competition to lesser stars. Lisa Lazarus is wasted (and seems to be no actress either) as the British girl used by Salman for his patriotic ends, and her footage is less than 10 minutes. The supporting cast is ho-hum.

To sum up, our heart goes out to action director Tinu Verma, the visual effects team of Eyeqube (facing a downer again after their brilliant work in Aladin) and cameraman Gopal Shah — and above all, to the music team.

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