The biggest strength of the movie Wanted is Salman Khan. And the biggest weakness…well, is Mahesh Babu! His portrayal of the poker-faced fearless and arrogant goon-cum-undercover cop in Pokiri comes in the way of Salman asserting his authority all over the movie. Not that Salman himself can’t be poker-faced and arrogant, he usually excels in those type of characters and is no different in Wanted. Its at the lighter moments that he doesn’t even come close to Mahesh’s superb comic timing in the original. I mean, a simple upma-comment would evoke chuckles in the Telugu version but a similar comment on pasta in the Hindi one hardly makes one grin!
Apart from the comedy, Salman Khan puts in a bravura performance and carries the movie throughout. He’s never one for expressions but the arrogance and brooding machismo of the role fit him perfectly. Ayesha Takia’s portrayal is commendable and she does quite well at the emotional scenes as well as the confrontation scenes. Mahesh Manjrekar is good…he’s very hateable as the lecherous cop who makes everyone’s boot-tip itch. Prakash Raj reprises his role as the villain and I didn’t know he could speak hindi so fluently. Assemm Merchant (he from the bin tere sanam music video) plays his right hand man and could’ve been given more scope. Ditto for Vinod Khanna, who plays Salman’s father. He’s too big an actor to be relegated to bit parts such as this. Inder Kumar tags along with Salman as his friend, a cruel departure for a guy who played the friend/foe in Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge so well. Mahek Chhal plays the vamp, averagely.
Story-wise, Wanted is nearly a frame-to-frame copy of Pokiri. Yes, they’ve made away with the bondage scene and the vamp-at-hero’s-house but apart from that its all the same. The underworld/mafia/don element are much more suited to Mumbai and the gangwars don’t seem out of place for such a place. But the makers should’ve taken more care in the picturisation of some of the scenes. You can’t pass off the Golconda Fort as some Mumbai ruins or pass off the swanky compartments of the Hyderabad MMTS for a Mumbai local train! The climax is evidently shot at the same location as the original one so I guess that was not Mumbai either! The comedy scenes of Manoj Pahwa should also have been done away with.
Another big drawback of the movie is its music. None of the songs have any repeat listen value and not even close to becoming chartbusters! Sajid Wajid tried hard but the songs don’t just cut it. It was good it was an out and out action movie…shudder to think if it was a romantic one! And speaking of action, I think the same guy did the action choreography for this one and does a swell job. And with Salman doing the butt-kicking and muscle-flexing, it becomes all the more interesting. The mandatory rip-shirt-show-torso scene surfaces at the climax and even in a multiplex, there were catcalls and whistles and shouts…especially from the gals in the audience.
That just about sums it up for Wanted, a pacy action movie with a tremendous mass appeal which sticks to the formula. Prabhudeva does an ok job of churning a massy movie and may have just hit the sweet spot when it comes to box office success. Salman Khan is due a hit and this might just be the one. Some better music and some common sense in choosing the locations would have made it even better. In any case, it can’t get over the Pokiri hangover…at least for the people who’ve seen both.