Salman’s Bharat: Eid Blockbuster Or Crashing Bore?

Salman’s Bharat: Eid Blockbuster Or Crashing Bore?

Salman’s Bharat: Eid Blockbuster Or Crashing Bore? Salman’s Bharat: Eid Blockbuster Or Crashing Bore? Source : Press

My Eid message to Salman Khan is: Mubarak, you have finally grown up. Bajrangi Bhaijaan was the first time Salman showed an inclination to back a substantial subject. With Bharat, he shows a maturity for wanting to break out of typical Salman fare where even the buckle on his belt would dance. Bharat is far more real cinema. Recent films like Kalank and Begum Jaan which took a petty, myopic view of an epic human tragedy like the Partition. But writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar brings out the poignancy of the emotional havoc it caused millions of people.

One of them was Bharat, a young boy who carries the burden of 1947 for the next 70 years. Escaping to India with his mother and younger siblings, his uncle's shop on the Indian side becomes the physical symbol of hope for him. It was this shop where his father, left behind at Lahore along with kid sister Gudiya, had promised to meet up with all of them.

Sincerely living up to the promise he'd made to his father that he'd keep the family together, Bharat's 70 years are dotted with milestones like a stint in a circus as a daredevil rider inside the Well of Death, moving to the Middle East as a labourer and joining the merchant navy which encounters a pirate attack. Every phase has a set pattern of something that's amusing and at least one heroic deed pulled off by Bharat. Like the captain who nobody understands leading to comic scenes and Bharat heroically dealing with the pirates, even dancing to Amitabh Bachchan songs with them. To be honest, any milestone could have been chopped off without damaging Bharat's story.

Because the portion that connects best is Bharat's quest for his father and sister from across the border. Television channels in India and Pakistan carrying out the unique exercise of trying to reunite near and dear ones who were separated during the partition captures the emotional depth of the tragedy. It wasn't Bharat's alone, thousands of families had suffered a similar fate.

But Ali Abbas' writing and narration have a whiff of Raj Kapoor's Mera Naam Joker with the harkback to a past in the circus. And though it's inspired by the Korean film Ode To My Father, closer home it's the Sacred Games brand of telling the story of one man against the story of the country that one sees in Bharat.

In showing the 70 years of Bharat's life and that of the country since 1947, landmarks like the discovery of oil that gave livelihood to Indians in the Middle East and the birth of Zee TV get chronicled. Politically, Congress supporters will be pleased as Nehru gets footage for his charisma and Manmohan Singh is hailed as the Prime Minister who ushered in economic reforms. It may be factually incorrect as it was during Narsimha Rao's tenure that the reforms came in but it's Congress-rooting all the way.

Ali Abbas stumbles in many places. For one, Ode To My Father, the Korean original, was shorter by 40 minutes. Bharat is unreasonably lengthy at 167 minutes and there's much that can be easily trimmed.

There are also far too many songs that aren't melodious and not all of them are as catchy as Slow Motion. Also, tragic tales of the Partition have been done to death in the past.

The length, the premise and the many scenes and songs that could've been edited, are what contribute to an overall sense of boredom.

Logically, why Katrina as Kumud and Salman as Bharat couldn't get married is baffling since she's anyway around helping him with his family-first agenda. Unless it was simply Ali Abbas wanting to make a point about changing social values.

Katrina Kaif as the foil who stands around Bharat is okay. Jackie Shroff as the father, Sunil Grover as friend Vilayati Khan, Satish Kaushik as the captain, and Tabu as the long-lost sister, elevate the acting department.

Verdict: Irrespective of the theatrical recovery of a steep Rs 175 crore, Bharat will make its money with digital and music rights. And irrespective of the negatives, Salman Khan shows an inclination for maturity in his choices which must be appreciated even if it means going against what his fans are used to. There is subdued daredevilry, not the shirt-off variety. The letting go of the shop that signified hope of a reunion with his father, giving way to malls and coming to terms with reality required a very grown up Salman.
But if only the mature Salman had an interesting screenplay to back him up.

For an unduly long Partition saga that mixes poignancy with bursts of entertainment, Bharat gets a 2.5* rating.

Disclaimer: We are proud that LehrenTV reviewer Bharathi S Pradhan has been appointed an advisory member of the prestigious CBFC. However, her reviews reflect her personal appraisal of a film and do not in any way speak on behalf of the Censor Board.

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