Eid in India is incomplete without a Salman Khan film. For years now, Khan has gifted a movie to his fans on the festival and this time it is the Ali Abbas Zafar directed Bharat that also stars Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Jackie Shroff and Kumud Mishra among others. Oh! There’s also Disha five-minutes Patani. While Disha happily posed at the premier of the film in Mumbai on Wednesday night, we wonder what notes she and rumoured boyfriend Tiger Shroff shared after?
Tiger: Disha what happened to the rest of your role?
Disha: Patani!! But I won’t be working with him again because... of the age G.....A.....P.
We digress. Khan’s Bharat shares his birthday with free India. Every year on August 15, the owner of Hind Ration Store in Old Delhi, makes a trip to the railway station in Atari with his family to celebrate with a Pakistan bound train. On his 70th birthday, the express is four hours late. Perfect for a flashback!
The year is 2010, families still sit around and talk to each other, share stories from the past. Mobile phones and digital India are still two separate things and WhatsApp forwards aren’t a rage yet. Nor is PM Narendra Modi. So when his niece asks Bharat (looks dapper in grey) about his story, the younger members of the family gather around for a listen. The director seems to have taken a leaf out of Salman’s family composition as he explains why Bharat is a family man but is yet to marry.
We are told Ali Abbas’ final cut of the film was 4 hrs long. Clearly, nobody would have allowed that to release, not unless they decide on an uncut version later. The final product is 2 hrs 35 minutes long and that explains the patchy storytelling that is a downer in the first half. Bharat’s story moves from a small town in pre-partition India to the streets of Delhi 6. He joins a circus, goes to work in an oil field also later turns sailor for a merchant ship. Every new location has a new adventure and a new song.
The makers manage to bring in some key moments in time and mention Amitabh Bachchan on more than one occasion. It is not your usual Salman Khan entertainer. Khan strips, not because Bhai ka mann hai but because his character demands so. One can see that he trusts Ali Abbas Zafar’s filmmaking and has given in to the director’s demands. Another superstar who impressed us was Katrina Kaif. She is both bold and beautiful even as she ages gracefully alongside her boyfriend. Yes, that’s a track that Bhai’s fans will enjoy. Not just for the chemistry on screen but also for its resemblance to their relationship off it.
Sunil Grover has proved himself to be an able actor on the silver screen in the past. As Bharat’s trusted friend Vilayati Abbas gives him more space to perform and Grover laps it all up with the greedy eagerness of an actor who wants to break away from his television image of a comic. And while you wait for Grover to deliver the laughs, it is the other television star Aasif Sheikh who delivers the tickles with his act as Bharat’s brother-in-law.
Bharat is an improvement on both Race 3 last year and Tubelight in 2017 but it definitely isn’t a Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Sultan either. Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump is a great example of how a story about the time gone by should be told. Abbas seems to have underestimated the scale of his story which in our opinion was bigger than it’s biggest star.
Having said that, the film has some happy surprises and some very emotional moments too. Especially the one where Bharat goes looking for his missing father and sister. In another sequence Salman underplays his own achievements when his character names Shah Rukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Dr Manmohan Singh as the three superstars of the 90’s. Well thought of indeed. Not accidental at all.Read More