A romantically-spiced drama about a wrestling champion who tries to re-kindle his flagging career which had been quickly gained and was making him too detached and distant. Sultan is the most successful Indian film of this year, and could easily be compared with the legendary film ‘Rocky’. Sultan’s adversaries are played by exponents of the popular martial arts Marko Zaror or Tyron Woodley.

2016 – 170 min – comedy, action, drama
language: Hindi
subtitles: Czech, English
directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar
cast: Salman Khan, Anushka Sharma, Amit Sadh

Salman Khan has long been one of the most commercially successful Bollywood actors. His name, however, is mainly associated with crazy mainstream comedies that are massively popular but, at the same time, condemned by more discerning viewers and film critics as a worthless pulp. The turning point in Salman’s career came with the collaboration with the director Kabir Khan (there is no family relationship between the two men). Under his direction, he starred in Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015); these films became blockbusters and are also listed among the best works of modern Bollywood. Salman managed to follow up with Sultan, written and directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, an ambitious filmmaker who plans to shoot a sequel to Ek Tha Tiger among other things.

Like most modern Indian blockbusters, Sultan skilfully blends tradition with modernity and local with global elements. The protagonist, played by Salman Khan, starts off as a traditional Indian-style Kushti wrestler but later on needs to learn the harder and more complicated discipline of mixed martial arts (MMA) and face champions from all over the world. Bound by only the most basic rules, MMA means fighting without weapons in the rawest and most effective form and as such enjoys great popularity in recent years, which filmmakers have tried to make use of: the US director Gavin O’Connor in Warrior (2011) or the Honk Kong classic Dante Lam in Unbeatable (2013).

Makers of the film made sure not to get behind their competition and hired experienced professionals. The fighting choreography was put in the hands of Larnell Stovall who worked for instance on the cult MMA film Undisputed III: Redemption (2010) and Salman Khan gets to fight with the Chilean action star Marko Zaror, US wrestler Tyron Woodley and Ron Smoorenburg from the Netherlands, famous for his duel with Jackie Chan in Who Am I? (1998).

The film also contains a romantic story line with a touch of feminism. Sultan’s partner Aarfa, played by Anushka Sharma, is not an entirely passive figure, whose only purpose of life would be a romantic love for a man. She is also an ambitious athlete, well aware of living in a world that is unfair to women.

Author: Miroslav Libicher / Translated into English by: Matouš Hájek

Trailer Sultan