Deva and Varda's friendship is the key to Nel's crazy story, combining flashbacks with climactic childhood traumas – they were very close and were only ten years old, and that was 1985! – With the constant escalation of “Game of Thrones”-type feuds between the warring Khansari leaders. . Will Deva bring peace to Khansar and reunite with Vardha? No, of course not. This story is about how two childhood best friends grow up to become rival types whose hatred is so intense that their story is “too scary to contemplate,” according to some appropriately mature voice-over narration. This line is especially funny given that it was delivered right before the title card (“Part One: Ceasefire”) announces an intermission.
“Would you like to know his story?” The narrator says about halfway through the film. “His” obviously means Deva, but it could just as easily mean Neel, who plays every action on screen as if it were some big dramatic event. Neil tends to exaggerate the recording of the action with slow motion for an echo-heavy score and matching sound effects. He also favors a Zack Snyder-y fast paced pace for his fight scenes, alternating and slowing down set pieces so that they're more about the poses than the choreography.
There's no doubt that Neil is the key to the success of 'Salaar', so it's hard to feel too disturbed by being reminded of all the italics, bold and underlined embellishments. This film, like his last two films, feels like a calculated attempt to synthesize some different tendencies into the next mega-trend, including the Indian appeal of co-stars Prabhas (Telugu) and Sukumaran (Malayalam). Neil retraces his steps with bolder and harder strains, as when a group of women chant and shake their ankle bracelets in unison to thank Deva for saving them from a tyrannical lord and his usurping son.
Neil has become a more polished director since Ugramm, and used what he learned to delve deeper into a style he's clearly been thinking about for some time. It shows that even if “Salaar” is just another teen fantasy about a righteous savior and a world-ending civil war, it will come soon in “Salaar: Part 2.”
In theaters now.
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