If you've never seen a Salman Khan movie, brace yourself. The overly muscled king of Bollywood action-humor tears into local theaters this weekend with Jai Ho. (If the title — a Hindi cry for victory — sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because it also is the name of a restaurant in North Tampa and the name of an A.R. Rahman song, remixed with the Pussycat Dolls, for Slumdog Millionaire.)
This Khan is one of three 48-year-old unrelated superstars named Khan who have ruled different segments of the Bollywood box office since the '90s. Of the top 10 highest-grossing Bollywood movies worldwide, the Khans account for eight. With blockbuster success down to a formula, Salman will always pummel scores of bad guys with his bare hands, grate out punchy lines and somehow take his shirt off to riotous applause.
Like many Hindi action flicks these days, and especially Salman Khan ones, Jai Ho is a remake of a South Indian movie, Telugu-language Tollywood's Stalin. Khan plays thankfully renamed hero Jai — like Jay, but I'm sure you see the pun — a former soldier whose life goal is persuading folks to pay it forward … until he becomes locked in a battle with a corrupt politician. For once, the lead female isn't his love interest, but his very concerned sister, played by a veteran of all India's -ollywoods, Tabu. The inevitable love interest is played by dancer and Kannada-language cinema (affectionately known as "Sandalwood") actor Daisy Shah in her Hindi film debut.
Jai Ho, with subtitles, opens Friday.
Caitlin E. O'Conner, Times staff writer