Salman Khan loves gladiators. He loves their mullets, their bulging muscles, the way they lop off body parts and dress in furs. If Dharmendra hadn’t frightened off the rest of Hindi herodom with his amazing legs in Dharam Veer, he’d probably even love their leather skirts. So when he teamed up with Vijay Galani, producer of his original gladiatorial opus Suryavanshi, and director Anil Sharma (Gadar) to give us Veer… well, hopes ran high. In my bosom if not in anyone else’s. It was going to be epic!
So how did it measure up against its forefathers – cult favorites Mard and Conan the Barbarian? Meh. Not so much.
The Evil Conquerors
Mard: The evil Brits bottle the blood of the vanquished in multicolored glass bottles. They make Dara Singh grind wheat (or was it drill for water? well, they make him turn a giant wheel anyway) for the whole country all by himself!
Conan: They make him turn a wheel by himself in the middle of nowhere too! He has thighs like tree trunks to prove it! And then they make him fight for his life and get him hookers before trying to kill him. Niiiice.
Veer: The evil Brits… make speeches about how they’re about make Indians slaves forever by teaching them English? Then they stand around and get killed? Lame.
Full of win: Mard!
Manhood is a Sacred Thing
Mard: His daddy carves it into his baby chest!
Conan: He learns it drilling in the desert all by himself while being whipped silly!
Veer: His daddy takes him out into the rain.
Full of win: Getting it carved into your baby chest makes for a pretty hardcore Mard!
The Father Son Conflict
Mard: There are misunderstandings! There are betrayals! There is separation! Father and son fight each other in an arena! Dara Singh might have worn a leather skirt. I was so exhausted by then, my poor brain can’t even remember.
Conan: Conan’s daddy done be killed. Aww.
Veer: Dadda (Mithun Chakraborty) likes to make out with Maa in public. Dadda and Veer do the Macarena before he throws Veer into tanks full of water. When Dadda and Veer fight, Veer feels each cut on Dadda’s body twice as much as he does his own. Veer cries.
Full of win: Veer stepped it up with the last minute groaning and the moaning but the sympathy vote goes to Conan.
Mard: Nirupa Roy. That is all.
Conan: Conan’s mommy done be killed. Aww.
Veer: Neena Gupta looks concerned, gives birth, looks concerned, uncomfortably shakes her booty, looks concerned, cries. What? She never loses her eyesight, pours lead in her ears, goes insane, anoints her son for battle or tells him to remember his sanskar? Have these people never met a mother?
Full of win: Haven’t you watched American Idol, Conan? The sympathy card can’t be cashed in all the time, you know. Besides, Nirupa Roy always wins. Because she is The Maa, bitches.
The Man Say What?
Mard: “Mard ko dard nahin hota.” Growf.
Conan: Conan don’t talk. Talking’s for girlie men.
Veer: “Jahan se pakdoonga, wahi se paanch ser ghosht nikaal ke rakhoonga.” Roar!
Full of win: Was Veer a butcher in his last janam? Give it to Mard!
The Girl Says Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Mard: Bow! Bow to the Mard-ess! She has a whip! She likes to tan – on top of pagodas in her swimsuit! She has a convertible and she will run over yo mamma with it! She will turn you into party entertainment! She likes it when you get so kinky with her, baby!
Conan: Some chick with no clothes and terrible taste in men.
Veer: Some chick with too many clothes and terrible taste in men.
Full of win: The Mard-ess! I’d be afraid to give it to someone else!
Fine, Fine, Finery!
Mard: Whatever the Wonder Dog and Bahadur could round up, really.
Conan: Nekkid is a lifestyle choice.
Veer: After careful research, Anna Singh threw out the research.
Full of win: The clothes were by far the best thing about Veer. I think I asked the universe, “WHAT IS SHE WEARING?” at least a dozen times. Someday, Bollywood will stop dressing their cast like this and then I will weep.
The Supporting Cast Gets One Close Up Shot
Mard: Bahadur the faithful steed! Brownie or Moti or Whatsis the Wonder Dog! Loyal commoners who die for the cause!
Conan: Snakes! Big ones, small ones, stiff ones, all sorts! Nekkid women! Humongous men!
Veer: The results of Anil Sharma’s raid of an Ashutosh Gowarikar set.
Full of win: Veer gets it hands down. Sohail Khan made me think twice, but really – gotta hand it to them. Never have so many well known supporting actors gotten so little to do.
The Villain Says Muahahahahaha!
Mard: Prem Naam Hai Mera! Prem Chopra! Muahahahah! Specialities include cross, double cross, cross stitch and double stitch. Fine embroidery optional. (Listen, it’s Mard – let’s not look for sense, mmmkay?)
Conan: James Earl Jones is the voice of DOOOOOOOM! He has snakes. He is a snake! He has virgins who will kill themselves if he asks them to. If you go to his parties, he’ll make you eat Soylent Green soup. He will fucking stare you to death and then cut your motherfucking head off! He has the power!
Veer: Jackie Shroff is the man with the golden arm. Beyonce called and says if you want it, you shoulda put a ring on it. Oh-uh-uh-oh.
Full of win: Veer! Ha. Kidding. Conan, of course!
The Final Tally