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Posted at: Jun 5, 2019, 6:36 PM; last updated: Jun 5, 2019, 6:36 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW - BHARAT

A long story…but worth knowing

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Film: Bharat

  • Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover and Disha Patani
  • Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
A long story…but worth knowing
A still from Bharat

Nonika Singh

Kahani bahut lambi hai… Has to be when it tries to tell the story of a nation by mapping the journey of a man.  On the surface it is a great idea to correlate the two. But when the man is played by a superstar of superstars, Salman Khan whose roar and fan-following shows little signs of diminishing, you know, the greater focus has to be on him.  Lest we forget the Tiger in him, early on we are reminded Sher buddha ho gaya hai par shikarr karna nahi bhoola.  Indeed, like the birth of this nation Bharat’s story too begins with Partition, when the Indian sub-continent was torn apart into two. His family too bears the brunt and gets partitioned with the fate of two members unknown.

In the absence of his father, the eight year old Bharat is entrusted the responsibility of bringing up the family. How he does it in a new India forms the major part of the story, in which Zafar tries to engage us with usual tropes; song, dare devilry, some laughter and the heroics of our superhero. Yes, Bharat is playing a common man whose major mission in life is to earn money, through honest, fair means, by sweat of his labour. Salman fits into his part as only he can and along with Sunil Grover (Vilayati) provides the requisite emotional heft. But the real surprise here is Katrina Kaif. As Madam Sir, which is how she is addressed throughout the film, she gets the best lines in the opening sequence. She delights more than the gifted comic actor Sunil Grover who mercifully emerges as a real character and not a clownish caricature and even gets to romance Norah Fatehi in a bit part. In yet another small part, Disha Patani too looks lovely. 

However, the only heroine who sparkles is Katrina. Actually as her life story runs parallel to Bharat’s hers has a far more interesting graph of a working woman, loving and living life on her own terms.  In her rise we see more of rising India than Bharat’s who is bogged down by familial responsibilities.

Bharat’s portrayal as a committed family man, single at that, seems to draw more from his personal life. References to India are more like markers with some real footage. There is Nehru, the much loved first Prime Minister of India; his death, India’s emphatic cricket match victory at Lords in 1983 and finally the rise of globalisation all are dealt with in a sweep.  Only in the time of The Accidental Prime Minister, we put on record our appreciation for giving former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh his due. Though mentioned briefly his contribution is referred to in glowing terms.  Yet another redeeming aspect of the film is how it treats the Indo-Pak ties and the wounds those affected by Partition suffered.  Of course, the scenes re-enacting the reunion of family members across the border are high on emotional drama. Yet despite the melodrama of it all, Zafar manages to touch chords and eyes do turn moist.

As for the rest, well most of it runs like a koi picture ka scene…the song may run doob jaaunga, the film is not exactly immersive. Even though the basic thought at hand, how new India must lay past to rest and how selflessness and family must take precedence over self are values you can’t take issues with. But the use of the National Anthem to drum up patriotic feelings sure can be debated.  Finally things may not exactly be in slow motion here but as we said kahani lambi hai and gets more exhausting than fulfilling. 

nonika@tribunemail.com

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