I have only been exposed to Salman Khan’s oeuvre since his 2009 blockbuster Wanted. More recently however, I was able to see his fandom in full effect. For a writing assignment, I watched Sultan at a single screen in Mumbai. What I learnt is that most of his fans admire him, some venerate him and practically all of them just want to be him. Thanks to Being SalMan, the new mobile game that was launched on August 28, fans can now do exactly that. Well, somewhat.
Developed by Pune-based PlayIzzOn, the game is available on Android, iOS and 9apps. It opens with a video of Khan introducing the premise. “Kehte hain is duniya mein saat log ek jaise dikhte hain. Saat ka toh pata nahi lekin humne teen ko dhoond liya hain. In teeno ki life toh hain alag alag par life ka maksat hain same same.” If you are scratching your head after that convoluted explanation, so was I.
The three avatars he chooses are Chulbul Pandey, Tiger and Prem – all iconic characters from his movies. The game is set in two cities – Mumbai and Jaisalmer. In terms of gameplay, the application doesn’t offer a lot to engage you. Players of the game have minimal control over what each character does; their choices are limited to shooting targets and pressing the attack option, after which the mobile Salman moves on to take the enemy down. Even while letting other people be him, Bhai must do most of the work himself.
Each character has 30 missions per city. Some of them require you to merely tap the screen. They do get progressively difficult though. It took me days, even as Chulbul Pandey, to stop the Sambar Mafia from escaping with their loot. I had to wait numerous times for my energy to recharge before I could take another shot, only to fail.
Some missions require 1 unit of energy to play; boss missions require 2. A unit of energy takes 5 minutes to charge. If you fail a mission, brace yourself for some mockery in Salman’s voice, at least that’s what it sounded like to me. He says things like, “Kya kar rahe ho my dear?”, “Paani waani kuch chahiye?” or “Kya hua? Are you okay?”
But after completing a successful mission, you have the option of high-fiving him after which he goes on to do the infamous belt buckle dance move from Dabangg. I guess he’s a tough love kinda guy. *HUDD HUDD DABANGG DABANGG*
There are many things about this game that make you question why you’re playing it in the first place. For example, the ground shatters every time Bhai spawns, only to be magically fixed again. The names of some of the missions and some of their descriptions are reminiscent of many of Salman’s poorly scripted movies. The most hilarious feature, however, is any player’s ability to upgrade the actor’s signature bracelet in order to get better stability.
Upgrades to Salman’s bracelet can make you a better shot
There have been mobile games based on Hindi films before, such as Krrish 3, Sultan, Dhoom 3 and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which allow fans to be the protagonists that they have come to know and love. However, this is the first time that an Indian superstar has released an official game of their own with no intent to promote a film.
Overall, this game serves no purpose but to let fans bask in the glory of Bhai. Salman Khan is the same as always, his hyper masculinity reinforced by the capital M in the game’s name (read: Being SalMan). Most people will have their patience tried with this one. However, it can be addictive depending on your mood. True fans will do what they always do and lap it all up. Meanwhile, I shall try and finish the game. I promised myself I would. And ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, uske baad toh main khudki bhi nahi sunta.