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When Mithun Chakraborty was Sultaan!


Did you think Salman Khan could snatch the title so easily from Mithunda? Read on...

Keyur Seta

Yash Raj Films’ Sultan is among the most awaited films of 2016. It has been in the news from the moment the project was announced. This is because it stars Salman Khan in the titular role. However, long before Salman Khan, the title of Sultan was conferred on none other than Mithun Chakraborty. 

It was on 2 February 2000 that TLV Prasad’s Sultaan released. Mithunda’s fans could not have asked for a better start to the new millennium. After all, what more could they ask for if they could see their favourite star doing exactly what was expected of him at that point, which was basically everything – fighting, dancing, romancing, joking, and performing those gravity-defying kicks, which had ‘paisa vasool’ written all over them. Just have a look at the screen grabs!

The film begins with a simple-looking man who calls himself Kabira (Chakraborty) landing a job at a garage run by the heroine (Suvarna Mathew), who  no prizes for guessing – falls for him instantly. On the other hand, the villain (Mukesh Rishi) is madly hunting Inspector Abhimanyu who destroyed his face some time back. Interestingly, Abhimanyu looks exactly like Kabira.

This is when the fun begins. We are told that Kabira is actually Abhimanyu in disguise. But seconds later, we find out that he is also called Sultaan. Even before we can digest this, the writers throw in a huge surprise. The real Sultaan turns out to be Dharmendra! This is what you call unpredictability, something that mainstream Hindi cinema usually struggles to achieve.

The film also has some well-sketched characters. For example, the villain is so focused on his goal that even the death of his dear brother does not affect him. When Chakraborty tells him on the telephone how he killed his brother, Rishi's character's first reaction is to ask, in a bland tone, “Kaun bol raha hai?”

It is popularly believed that the first Hindi film on match-fixing in cricket was Jannat (2008). But that is not true. This honour also goes to Sultaan. How the writers managed to include the fixing angle in the convoluted story speaks volumes for their talent.

Sultaan deserves special mention for the names of the villain and his brothers – Roop Shankar, Bheema Shankar, Kali Shankar, Jataa Shankar, Daya Shankar and Bhawani Shankar. We can only imagine the painstaking brainstorming the writers must have gone through to name them.

But the most important question remains unanswered: how did Mithun Chakraborty become Sultaan? Well, watch the film to find out. We have given you plenty of reasons not to miss it! And while you are watching, think: can Salman Khan's Sultan outdo Mithunda's Sultaan?