In fact, the once-fit-now-plump policemen were already disappointed by Dabangg’s release—even before actually watching it—as it had skyrocketed people’s expectations from every policeman in the country. One concerned cop had actually tweeted a week before the release: “@SalmanKhan, y u no stop all this Dabangg nonsense? Now therez a sequel 2!” An officer we caught huffing and panting between bouts of exercise complained, “The situation is very bad. The public thinks we are superheroes. Earlier, they would want us to solve a kidnapping case in a matter of just months—which in itself was impossible—and now they expect us to solve the same case in a matter of hours! How can we even do that?”
It is no surprise that policemen across the country have been hitting the gym, re-learning the basics of combat and practising shooting at their training academy. But the results aren’t promising. They are still far behind tearing car rooftops, creating earthquakes with their feet and tackling mobs with their bare hands.
According to another officer, each cop now gets “credits” according to how dabangg his style of solving the crime was. “We are monitored on a ten-point scale, from ‘incompetent’ to ‘most dabangg’. This has led to our force actually mulling over how to strategically solve the case, instead of just going out there and having fun.”
A Senior Inspector, on condition of anonymity, said, “A cop’s life is tough. We have been losing respect in the eyes of the public. We are hoping that our attempt to recreate a real-life Chulbul Pandey can help us reclaim at least some of this lost glory.”
Their frustration eventually showed colour when, unable to do anything dabangg, the cops sought to lathi-charging, firing water cannons and throwing tear-gas shells at protesters outside Rashtrapati Bhawan who had gathered to raise their voice against violence towards women.
However, many policemen, after this whole rigmarole, said they felt at least a bit successful in achieving this end. An unnamed self-proclaimed “hero” said: “I couldn’t do anything dabangg when faced with the protestors, so we tried a different approach that achieved the same result. But people are still not happy. I can’t understand what we are doing wrong. They keep saying ‘The police should not have reacted that way. They shouldn’t have resorted to such extreme measures.‘ Well then, how else will we be dabangg?”
Even a senior cop in Delhi said he is aware of the fact that his force is trying too hard to be branded heroes. He tried to cover up their ineptness by saying, “Maybe there were some lapses here and there. But by and large the situation warranted this kind of action,” before hurriedly leaving for the gym.
And indeed, the repercussions are apparent. Filmmakers have now been warned against showing the police with supernatural talents in their films as it hurts the sentiments of real cops. Movies like Wanted, Singham, Force, Dabangg, and Dabangg 2 have taken a huge toll on them. With many more movies centred around police departments yet to be released, it is unlikely that our men in khaki are going to get a sigh of relief anytime soon.
Disclaimer: NTMN doesn’t expect anything dabangg from its readers.
(inputs from Priyanka Mehta)