It has superstar Salman Khan. It has melodrama. It has song and dance. It has a pretty lead actress. It features two topics of discussion that are favourites with the Indian audience: religion and cross-border tension. And it has a cute little thing that, without saying a single word, will make you laugh and cry.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan, as Khan told tabloid! earlier, is just about “love and love and only love”. You will receive an ample dose of every kind from romance to fatherly and brotherly love to the love for one’s country. It is an out-and-out Khan entertainer, such as Dabangg, Ready, Ek Tha Tiger, only this time it has a story which takes the audience at a steady pace through a two and a half hours journey across two countries. And interestingly, there is no item number in the film. It also does not feature the much-hyped Eid song Aaj Party Meri Taraf Se.
Khan plays Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi, your honest-to-the-core local yokel with a tender heart. Chaturvedi happens to be a great devotee of Hanuman or Bajrangi [the monkey deity]. So devout, that he bows down to every stray monkey he sees, and for his kind nature he is lovingly known as Bajrangi. A failure at most things his father shunts him off to Delhi to make something of his life. Here the down-to-earth, very practical Rasika (Kareena Kapoor), the pretty daughter of his father’s friend, falls in love with the kind Bajrangi. When Chaturvedi comes across a little lost girl he makes it his mission to see her safely home. Needless to say he tries all the “right” ways to accomplish this before taking matters into his own hands, even if it means he has to cross the border illegally.
Like most Bollywood films, Kabir Khan’s directorial too turns cheesy, making you laugh or cry depending on what clichéd situation is being dealt with on screen. The film touches several social issues, from religious barriers and patriotism (on both sides of the border) to human trafficking and corruption, but without being too preachy. You can easily make out why the right wing political parties would take offense to certain scenes, but the story tries to maintain a balance. Yet, through the film you will only see the ‘chemistry’ between the ‘lead’ pair of Khan and Harshaali Malhotra and not the issues touched.
Despite good performances all around, it is Malhotra who plays Shahida alias Munni who steals the show. Playing a mute girl, Malhotra emotes through her “truck headlight” eyes. Both Khan and Kapoor have been raving about her, even though she herself has been kept away from the media and is not part of the film’s promotions.
Even though it cannot be predicted what happens on July 20 when the Bombay High Court convenes to hear Khan’s appeal, it’s easy to say that once again it’s going to be a happy Eid for Khan with his debut production. This family entertainer has already been predicted to take the biggest opening in India and with the long weekend in the UAE, the theatres will be full.
Just don’t forget to take that box of tissues with you.
Film: Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Director: Kabir Khan
Cast: Salman Khan, Nawazzudin Siddiqui, Kareena Kapoor, Harshaali Malhotra
Stars: 3.5 out 5