It is not for nothing that Salman Khan is known as the undisputed king of box-office. Salman Khan, who had a disappointing Eid last year with Race 3, is back in his element in the film Bharat, where he plays a common man with a larger than life persona. The movie will break you and lift you in parts, but that is the beauty of the film. Based in the Pre-Independence India, Bharat is an adaptation of the Korean film ‘An Ode To My Father’. The movie pays homage not just to the legendary Korean drama, but also to several faces in India’s politics and cultural scene. I booked an early morning show and it was packed. Several scenes such as Salman’s introduction, Katrina Kaif’s introduction shot and some of the dialogues were met in hoots and screams from the audience. It doesn’t matter what I rate the film or how I review it, it has already been loved and accepted by the masses. Salman, in all his glory has won the hearts yet again with Bharat. Don’t go hunting for logic in a Salman Khan film, Upar Allah, neeche dharti, beech mein tera junoon. It is that junoon that makes a Salman fan get out of her or his home on Eid day and watch their superstar on the big screen. One more time. Year after year.

Story:  We are introduced to  a 70-something man who is celebrating his 70-something birthday in 2019. 60 ke baad 70 ya 75, kya fark padta hai! Our hero has donned a special suit, and is ribbing his “Madam Sir”. She calls him ‘sexy’, he blushes. His family takes off to the Wagah-Attari border to cut his cake. This ‘sathiya-gaya-hua buddha’ wants to cut the cake as the train from Pakistan crosses into India.

The movie goes back to August 15, 1947, when Bharat stepped into the newly-formed Hindustan from Mirpur, Pakistan, on board a train full of and he decided to make it his birthday. Bharat and the film are synonymous with separation and are pained by it. And director Ali Abbas Zafar makes complete use of the Partition as a subject to bring tears to your eyes. Special mention to guest star Tabu here. In her one scene, she makes you break down. Salman, too in several scenes will make you weep.

As his family members gather around him, waiting for the train that is four hours late, Bharat begins to tell his story.  The audiences learn that Bharat has made a promise to his Bauji (Jackie Shroff in a memorable role). Through the years since 1947, Bharat is carrying a certain burden, which is also his hope. That is keeping him alive, that is what helped him navigate through life. That is what makes him beat his circumstances as he takes odd jobs, sometimes even life-threatening.

Through the eyes of Bharat, we see the journey of Bharat, our country, through some of its best and worst phases.

Execution: Director Ali Abbas Zafar manages to capture in 2 hours and 47 minutes the ups and downs that this man and his country wade across. The best part of Bharat the film is that it has something for everyone. It is the quintessential Big Salman Khan Film with all its trappings. Romance, comedy (and a lot of it, thanks to Sunil Grover), drama, action, emotion.

There is a lot of Sooraj Barjatya that we spotted in the film. “Desh logon se banta hai aur logon ki pehchaan unke parivar se hoti hai (A nation is made of its people and people derive their identity from their families).” It’s all about loving a family as a building block of the nation. However, the film could have been shorter by 20 minutes and some song and dance sequences could have been trimmed. For a film that is emotive, a crisp editing could have made it even more watchable. The parts where Salman is working for a Russian Circus, or digging oil in the Middle East are a cinematographer’s marvel. Ali Abbas has indeed made an effort to make this film progressive and it is evident in the film.  The time period from Indian independence to present India, is intriguing. There are parts in the film where India’s leading actors, politicians are paid homage, without vilifying them and that is noteworthy in today’s day and age, when every second film seems to be a propaganda film.

Performances: Katrina Kaif has a meaty role and she plays a strong, level -headed and a powerful character. This can be considered as one of Katrina’s finest performances. Kaif, who stunned everyone in Zero, with the portrayal of an alcoholic diva, play the no-nonsense Kumud to the T. Disha Patani however, does not have much of screen time. The surprise package is Sunil Grover, who plays Salman’s confidante and friend, and the two share genuine bromantic moments. Their camaraderie is heart-warming and their jokes will have you in splits in several times. It will take time to adjust to the fact that Sonali Kulkarni plays Salman’s mother. In the scenes where Salman and Katrina have aged and are playing characters in their 60s and 70s,  are quite endearing. But out and out this is Salman Khan film, who through his personal journey shows the journey of a nation from Independence till now. Even though, Salman plays a common man, his life goes through trials and tribulations as does the country’s. After Bajrangi Bhaijaan, if there was one Salman Khan film that could warm the cockles of your heart, is Bharat.

Music: The music is composed by Vishal-Shekhar and lyrics written by Irshaad Kamil. The songs Aithay Aa, Chashni, Slow Motion are winners and are quite catchy. But couple of songs could have been edited and the run-time should have been reduced.

The only problem with the film is with the run-time which could have been reduced had they let go of couple of songs. There are few plot holes, but the movie is an out and out masala entertainer, yet is high on content.

We give 4 chirps to Bharat.


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