Long before Suriya prided himself on possessing an arm weighing 1.5 tons, the dialogue belonged to Sunny Deol in Damini, an unlikely film for such a line, where Deol’s is more of a supporting role. But then the dialogue seeped into national consciousness, synonymous with every Deol action extravaganza.
Deol’s numbers were modest — he only said 2.5 kgs, but those were the 90s and Suriya had to go several notches up in the second decade of the 21st century. This dialogue is referenced in Navaniat Singh’s Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se, the third instalment in the series.
I can bet that the dialogue is referenced in the first two films too despite not having watched them, because that is the fuel these films run on — nostalgia, throwbacks, Deol family references — and this barrel has been scraped so heavily in this set of films that the bottom doesn’t exist anymore. So, the third film brings in Asrani to perform some inane things in the name of comedy. It brings Shatrughan Sinha for a special appearance which can well be renamed Khamosh experience.
It numbs you to the point of going brain dead. A park of dinosaurs trying to monetise whatever final moments of fame is left in them. And the dinosaur metaphor isn’t far off — the film, for some bizarre reason, wants to promote Ayurveda. It wants to promote traditional methods over scientifically proven treatments. After a point one wonders if the pontificating Akshay Kumar PSA video about sanitary pads has extended into the feature. It is all part of one big PSA.
The most hilarious moment in Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se, written by Dheeraj Rattan (although why this tripe requires any writing is a mystery), happens at the end. We get a guest appearance from Salman Khan. The film is specifically made for the chunk of Deol family fans and well-wishers from Punjab, this much has always been apparent. They probably do not care about the film’s performance in Maharashtra or Uttar Pradesh. But the times are such that, even a specifically targeted film like this one, needs a push from the Khan who seems happy doing these favours for everyone from Dharmendra to Shah Rukh Khan.
For a long time, Salman Khan seemed like the heir apparent to Dharmendra in the Hindi film industry of the 90s. Starting out as handsome lover boys known for their looks and competent performances, a decade after their careers, they began to play second fiddle to Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, respectively. They both switched to masala action potboilers with completely different results. While Dharmendra was spit out of the B-movie space long after his career was already over, Salman ended up tasting super stardom that surpassed all his contemporaries. So, when I watched Salman Khan here knock on the doors of Dharmendra, it threw me back to a time when Salman’s career was progressing on similar lines and their easy camaraderie felt like they both recognised this fact about them.
But there is only so much that a two-minute Salman Khan appearance can do to your film. Especially if it lacks both in comedy and entertainment. The makers do go overboard — they let Sunny Deol stop a speeding eighteen-wheeler all by himself and his 2.5 kilogram hands. That’s when you realise that may be Suriya has a point — 1.5 tons would sound more plausible (Spoiler alert: They don’t).