Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Duration: 2 hours, 35 minutes
When a young boy is separated with his father and sister during the Indo-Pak Partition, he makes a promise to his father that he sticks to until the sunset of his life, which makes his meaningless life bounce back into an adventurous one through the ages.
There is one reason why the Bhai of Bollywood releases his movies on special occasions every year; that his fans come out in large numbers to watch his movie and cheer for him and his larger than life characters that he portrays on celluloid. And his directors make sure they give him roles that bring out the best in him. Though Salman Khan’s movies sometimes defy logic (read ‘Race 3’) and his stunts in his films defy gravity, his persona makes up for everything else. And director Ali Abbas Zafar does just that. In ‘Bharat’, Zafar captures Salman through the generations, in several avatars and gives us a film that is sometimes a bit exhausting but most of the times entertaining.
The year is 2010 and a handsome buddha is at the Wagah-Attari border for a train to roll into India from Pakistan. This septuagenarian Bharat without a last name (Salman Khan) along with his Madam Sir (Katrina Kaif) and family, awaits a train every 15th August to cross the border so that he can celebrate his birthday with his loved ones. This year though the train is four hours behind schedule, which gives Bharat a chance to narrate his life story, which is full of adventure and spans a couple of decades.
Cut to the past. The neighbouring countries of India and Pakistan have fallen into chaos. One country is on the verge of breaking up into two and a young Bharat and his family have to face its repercussions. While an eight-year-old Bharat’s family is forced to take the train to India, his father (Jackie Shroff) stays behind, but with a promise that becomes the little one’s motto for life. And then on begins Bharat’s struggle as does his country’s.
In his 20s, Bharat is part of a circus as a stuntman. His death-defying feats inside the maut ka kuaan not only earn him good money but also adoration from many who come to see him perform. A mishap forces him to take up a new job. In his 30s, when the country is struggling to provide employment to her youth, Bharat and his dear friend Vilayati (Sunil Grover) get a chance to work in the oil rigs of the Middle East. Before that Bharat has already struck a chord with Kumud (Katrina Kaif), who is an officer at a public works department. Another decade passes on and Bharat gets to be a part of the Indian merchant navy fighting for his side of the country.
An official remake of the South Korean drama ‘Ode To My Father’, ‘Bharat’ is a film that does justice to its original story but somewhere misses the emotional touch that the South Korean film provided. Ali Abbas Zafar scores a few brownie points to highlight the same in the first half of the film, when the young protagonist tries to live by the promise he made to his father; but towards the second half, seems to lose the steam. An overbearing second half and a predictable climax takes away the charm of watching a film, which could otherwise have been good in terms of content.
Salman Khan plays the larger-than-life character, which we have seen many times before in almost all of his movies; though this time he manages to shine in his emotional sequences as well (‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ tops the list any day!). The film rides on his broad shoulders and Sallu does not leave any stone unturned to make the most of the opportunity that he missed in ‘Race 3’ and ‘Tubelight’ before that. Katrina Kaif, too, exudes charm and acts well, matching steps with her leading man. The chemistry between the duo is sizzling and unmissable. Sunil Grover provides the lighter moments, which is a strong point in the dramatic story, while Jackie Shroff as the separated father is good in his miniscule role. Sonali Kulkarni, however, as a grown up Salman’s mother does not fit. The actress still delivers a first-rate performance. Disha Patani does not have enough to do on the screen but play a 20-something Salman’s love interest. Other characters just fill in.
Technically the film is sound, with the VFXs and the cinematography on point. Creating the choppy oceans with special effects or bringing alive a desert storm in the Gulf, the team deserves a pat on the back. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is good, though same cannot be said about a few songs. The parallel drawn between the struggles of the leading man in particular and the country in general is striking, though in a few places, it becomes a bit cringe-worthy – for example the Somali pirates sequence.
All in all, ‘Bharat’ is an entertaining watch, minus a few extra minutes of run time and scenes that could have lessened the viewers’ trouble. It can be watched once only for Salman.
Eventznu Rates Bharat Movie: * * 1/2