There was a king. There was a queen. They both died. The story ended. Stories are simple without conflicts, but who wants a simple story? Perhaps it is Prashanth Neel’s complex narrative that makes Salaar far more interesting than the usual stories. Initially, it was the story of two best friends, Vardha and Deva, who stuck by each other through thick and thin. But then came a time when the two had to part ways for their own good. We don’t know what happened next. What we know is that they become sworn enemies after a period of time. Why? Well, that’s the story.
Prashanth Neel is known for his non-linear narrative style, which perhaps made Salaar’s plot so convoluted. But let’s not follow the director’s narrative and instead indulge in a simple discussion about the events to get a better understanding of the story. A group of violent dacoits hailing from Western India laid the foundation of a fictional village called Khansaar somewhere around the 11th century. These bandits plundered the nearby villages and towns and brought the riches back, leaving behind no survivors at all. As the village grew, it was divided into three prominent tribes called Mannar, Shouryaanga, and Ghaniyaar. However, instead of fighting among themselves, these tribes elected a leader who would make democratic decisions for them.
With time, the tribes grew in power and wealth, which turned Khansaar into a fortified city that even the British Raj failed to plunder. The city prospered until, in 1985, an important leader named Shiv Mannar died, creating a power vacuum. As per the rules mentioned in the Khansaar’s holy book, Nibandhana, each tribe was entitled to rule the city for the next 40 years. After their term concluded, they had to hand over the throne to the next tribe so that each tribe would get a fair chance. After Shiv Mannar’s death, the tribes decided that the leader of the Shouryaanga Tribe, Dhaara, would take charge of Khansaar, but the late king’s ambitious son, Raj Mannar, didn’t want to give up his father’s throne without putting up a fight. In his greed for power, Raj Mannar decided to erase the Shouryaanga Tribe from the face of the earth. At midnight, when each member of the tribe was fast asleep, Raj Mannar’s men entered their houses and killed them in the most merciless ways possible. They didn’t even leave the women and children alive. The city was going up in flames, and the streets were flooded with blood, but no one came to the Shouryaangas’ aid.
In the midst of such chaos, there was a house that Raj Mannar’s men failed to break into because Mannar’s own son had stepped up for their protection. In order to protect his best friend, Vardha gave away a huge portion of his inheritance so that Deva and his mother could escape Khansaar safely. It turns out that Deva’s father was none other than Dhaara, the man who was supposed to be the king but never became one. A single man’s hunger for power had taken away countless lives on a single night, which was the reason why Deva’s mother didn’t want her son to ever come back to the cursed land. But Deva had a debt to pay, and Vardha needed his friend by his side so that he could contest for the throne. Therefore, at the end of Salaar Part 1, Deva came back to Khansaar to put Vardha on the throne. Now, at the end of this story, we are left with two broad questions. Firstly, does Deva know that it was Raj Mannar who ordered his father’s murder and tried to kill his mother? Secondly, was Vardha aware of his father’s murderous scheme to achieve the throne?
If we entertain the possibility that Deva was well aware of his lineage, then it brings us to the theory that the mighty warrior had come back to the cursed land only to avenge his father’s murder. From the looks of it, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Deva had no interest in ruling Khansaar. He didn’t even have anything personal against Vardha. But Deva won’t stop until he has killed the man responsible for killing his father on that fateful night, along with countless innocent people, just to serve his greed. Deva might even join the force with the new leader of the Shouryaanga Tribe, Bhaarava, to bring down the treacherous Raj Mannar. But would Vardha let Deva kill his father?
Vardha had gone against his father’s wishes earlier in his childhood when he tried to protect his best friend. Considering his act of loyalty towards Deva, it’s possible that Vardha might not stop Deva from spilling his family’s blood. Vardha just wanted to protect his brother. Even in the ceasefire voting, he went against his father’s wishes because he knew that the man’s days were numbered. Vardha was aware of the fact that he needed to spill some blood to rise up through the ranks and get what was rightfully his, just like his father had done in the past. So, in a way, Khansaar’s history is indeed going to repeat itself, and this time around, Deva and Vardha will be the faces of that fierce battle. But we still are not sure what events will incite a rivalry between these best friends.
When the time comes, Deva will have to make a difficult decision: choose between his father’s honor and a promise made to his best friend. As much as we know Deva, he wouldn’t leave Vardha’s side no matter what the situation might be because this was the friend who went against all odds to save his mother in times of need. But we couldn’t say the same for Vardha; after all, he is Raj Mannar’s son. Vardha would do anything to get the throne, which even includes the possibility that he might make Deva fight against his own tribe and butcher them as his father did. The Shouryaanga Tribe wanted to turn Khansaar into ruins, but Vardha wouldn’t let them do so because the ambitious leader had been holding a desire to rule the city since childhood. So, power politics is indeed going to play an important role in deciding the outcome of these men’s friendship. I believe it is this battle for the throne that will bring an end to their friendship.
Setting aside the reason for their rivalry, let’s focus on what can happen in the present time. In 2017, Deva had no other option but to stop the vehicles marked with Khansaar’s seal in order to protect Krishankant’s daughter, Aadhya. However, as a consequence of his actions, he broke the very laws of the sacred cities, which might put Deva at the center of conflict in Salaar Part 2. Vardha’s ministers wouldn’t let him be at peace until he brought Deva back to Khansaar to punish him. Vardha’s decision would indeed be a test of his love and friendship for Deva. However, if Vardha decided to execute Deva for the crimes he had committed, would Deva let him do so without making any noise? The entire fiasco hints at the possibility of a clash between these two friends, who would come face-to-face and try to kill each other for honor. And eventually, one of them is indeed going to die on that battlefield, because without it, the cycle of revenge won’t come to an end. We all know that Khansaar is the root of all evil, and it would be no surprise to us if Deva razed the city to the ground at the end of Salaar Part 2. Surprisingly, the outside world won’t be affected much, as Khansaar doesn’t exist for them in the first place. However, if Khansaar is not destroyed, then history is going to repeat itself again and again, where innocent blood will be shed for the sake of power and wealth.