Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Alvira Agnihotri, Atul Agnihotri, Krishan Kumar under the banners of T-Series, Reel Life Productions and Salman Khan Films
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Tabu, Jackie Shroff and Sunil Grover
Salman Khan’s Eid release is almost an annual ritual that his fans look forward to each year. And there’s simply no doubt that the star commands a massive global fan-base very few in Bollywood can boast of. But there’s also the fact that even his most die-hard fans more often than not, love their hero in certain avatars. And with Bharat, Salman has undoubtedly taken a huge risk gambling around with this very larger-than-life image and the hero persona, playing a character whose age spans across five decades. Of course the film is a remake of the Korean drama film An Ode to My Father (2014), so we knew what to expect. But, does Salman Khan step up his A-game in the role and will this gamble pay off for him in Bharat? Read on to find out…
What Bharat is all about? ‘Ek baar maine commitment kar di, toh mai apne aap ki bhi nahin sunta…’ Salman may have rattled off these dialogues in Wanted, but they could very well fit here too, as that’s the basic premise of the film. Only the commitment here is to his father (Jackie Shroff) who gets left behind in Mirpur, Lahore (Pakistan) when the family escapes to India during the Indo-Pak partition.
Rewinding a bit here, just the way the entire narrative of the film is set – in flashback mode! So, 8-year-old Bharat and his family – comprising father, mother, two sisters and a brother – are trying to board a train to India, when Bharat loses his sister Gudiya on the platform and the diligent dad gets off the train to look out for her. His parting words to his son along with the parting gift of a watch in all that chaos are that he would meet them at Hindu Ration Store in Delhi that was owned by his sister. He also extracts a promise from Bharat that he would take care of his family no matter what.
Parting on this note, Bharat, his mother (Sonali Kulkarni) and two siblings reach Delhi. There he strikes up a friendship first with Mukhtyar and then with Radha. The trio grows up working in a Russian circus where Radha (Disha Patani) is a trapeze artiste, while Bharat is a daredevil stunt-biker and Mukhtyar (Sunil Grover) is the circus commentator. That’s Salman for you in his dashing 20s.
The film then traces his journey as an oil-rig worker in the Middle East, where he falls in love with Kumud Madam Sir (Katrina Kaif) after having met her back in India. It plays out with a lot of adrenaline-pumping events. The story continues with him as a worker on a merchant navy ship, before he settles in as the owner of Hindu Stores, where in his senior citizen avatar, he wages a local war of sorts to protect his shop from the hungry mall sharks. Bharat’s entire journey is set against the societal and not-so-deeply-involved-political backdrop as references rather than revolving around any of those events.
All through his journey, he just hopes to reunite with his sister Gudiya and father, as he tries to keep up to the commitment of taking care of his family above everything else!
Yay: Salman Khan, what else do his fans need, right! The film starts off with a 70-year-old Salman saying the dialogue that we also hear in the trailer: Logon ko lagta hai ki ek middle class budhe ki life kitni boring rahi hogi. Ab unhein kya bataaein? Jitne safed baal mere sar aur daadhi mein hain, usse zyaada rangeen meri zindagi thi!
The dialogue and the unmistakable Salman swag set the pace of the film right at the start and we know we are in for a full-on entertainer. The film belongs to the star. He owns up every age like a pro and surprisingly pulls of being a 70-year-old with much ease (even though his body does not have the bearing of a septuagenarian). There was a certain comfort that we could sense in his chemistry with Katrina and the two seemed amazingly well-tuned to each other. This film would rate as one of Katrina’s career’s best performances. But it’s Salman’s equation with Sunil Grover that had our heart. The two share some of the best bromances we’ve seen in recent times and Sunil is a delight on screen.
Director Ali Abbas captures the essence of each decade and era beautifully without digressing from the real focus which is Bharat’s journey. He does it subtly and extracts some good performances. Among the cast – Jackie Shroff and Tabu make an impact in their brief roles. Aasif Sheikh, Brijendra Kala and Kashmira Irani are impressive too, though Sonali Kulkarni and Kumud Mishra seemed underutilised and wasted.
The dialogues are funny when required and work well, though there’re not too many highs with the kind of dialogue-baazi that would draw whistles. To be honest, we expected more hard-hitting dialogues. In a particular sequence that has the pirates aboard the ship, we love Salman doing Bachchanesque dances (he actually does an impressive Amitabh Bachchan there)! The Zinda track resonates well with the spirit of the film and gets our thumbs-up too.
Nay: The film’s pace really needed to be faster. Also the real action in terms of a fight sequence only happens in the last half an hour of the film and that too surprisingly it’s a 70-year-old Salman shown beating up the baddies. All through, Bharat’s character seemed an extension of Salman’s Prem from his run with the Rajshri-produced movies.
There’s an overdose of emotions in many phases and seriously the entire family outing on a platform and the prep for it on his birthday was a little too forced that could’ve been reduced by many reels. There is an OTT touch of patriotism too.
The songs and dances at a few points provide the breaks that allow you to do a quick check on your mobile phones if you needed to, and in some cases just give you a reason to do so. Disha and Salman’s romance seemed half-baked. The situational-comedy during the initial selection process where a lanky man tumbles off after trying to lift heavy weights and more such stereotypical characters seemed forced and not befitting Ali Abbas Zafar at all. The film’s story and premise is so promising that such added elements just dilute the strong content.
CineBlitz Verdict: The film is a full-on family entertainer and of course a must-watch for Salman Khan fans who won’t be disappointed. The Sunil Grover-Salman Khan equation is the highlight. While we were skeptical about Salman Khan pulling off a 70-year-old efficiently enough, he really does surprise us with his impressive act. Of course, his navy uniform bit will have the fans swooning anyway and the director smartly exploits the actor’s good looks there as a treat for his female fans. Overall, the film is a fun and entertaining watch.