Veer is one of those intended epics that go wrong. Horribly wrong. Director Anil Sharma had combined history and kitsch with compelling consequences on Gadar – Ek Prem Katha.
In Veer, the khichdi of fact and fiction runs amok, creating a blend of babble and bloodshed that is more hysterical than historical.
Veer wallows in primitive valour. Father Mithun Chakraborty (the only tolerable performance in the litany of the unbearable) and son Salman Khan often mock-fight, as the burly members of their tribe urge them on like animals in zestful zoo. Even Neena Gupta who plays Mithun’s wife (and has apparently forgotten she was once a good actress) joins in the macho revelry, taking a swig or two from the men’s smoking room where Veer is situated, in a manner of speaking.
There are no smoking guns. Only shining swords slicing across the epic canvas with fashionable bravura.
Costume dramas are very tricky cinematic efforts. How do the makers know if the clothes and props suggesting periodicity are going to work? In this case, they just don’t! The ‘research’ that seems to have gone into the colossal fiasco is at best, scratch level. At worst the detailing suggested by the art director (Sanjay Dhabade) and costumes (Anna Singh) smack of amateurish stage plays where the actors create characters purely through props.
And here the props include , ahem ahem, the Buckingham Palace where our valorous hero Veer (Salman Khan) and his brother-sidekick (Sohail Khan, behaving as though he was in the sequel to Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya) teach those bloody Gora Log a few lessons on how to treat us Indians with respect and dignity.
By Jove, what would Independent India have been without such strident architects of freedom? It is doubtful that a man like Veer actually existed in the history of our freedom movement. But does anyone really care?
Veer is not really a freedom fighter. He’s Salman Khan with long hair and costume jewellery (the diamond ear-tops could be the envy of all his leading ladies) scowling with the same intensity into the panoramic camera as he did earlier in Wanted. British India or Fetish India, what difference does it make?
Clothes definitely maketh this man, although Veer in one of the unintentionally funny sequences of the film reprimands the gora professor in London (teaching the most motley crew of colonists seen in any film) saying, “Clothes do not make the man, the man makes the clothes.” A quote on the coat that Veer says he borrowed from George Bernard Shaw. Where did he learn about Shaw? In his tribal pathshaala? Do such questions really matter when the intention is to create an optical illusion merging myth and history in a claustrophobic clasp that leaves no breathing space for introspective punctuations.
Veer is one sweeping rush of blood sweat gore adrenaline and saliva. It is meant to sweep audiences off its collective feet .But its takeoff point , namely the ideological slant, is so faulty, you wonder what these blood-thirsty warriors are fighting for!
Most of the time the characters’ motivations are superimposed by a passionate but pedestrian melodrama.
Director Anil Sharma’s inherent sense of drama comes with the blood-soaked territory. While in the father-son sequences he manages to create a scale and range that merge rugged machismo with a junk food version of patriotism, the love story featuring the nomadic warrior and the bereft princess from the enemy tribe is driven into a zero-chemistry zone by the pair.
Forget mutual passion, there’s very little drama or romance in the dialogues and the visual props for them to share.
Veer gets details of the period and locations in place. But the inner conviction and a genuine passion that made Anil Sharma’s Gadar: Ek Prem Katha so special are completely absent in the telling of a tale that culminates with the father and son, warriors of an indeterminate patriotic tribe fighting one another for land, country and other causes which by the last blood-soaked reel, are as relevant to the audience as the question, why make a film during British India when the hero insists on behaving as though he belongs to today?
Dude, you’ve got attitude.