Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijan

Khamoshi, 1996, was the last Salman Khan's movie I watched in the theatre. After nearly two decades, I went on to book a ticket for a Salman movie without waiting for the reviews. Something about the trailers promised a very different movie. Of course, there was the attraction of  Nawazuddin Siddiqui
I am no Salman Khan fan but I always knew  he just needed the right story and script to bring back that Prem in him. And Bajrangi Bhaijaan provides him just that opportunity! He has that presence to lighten up the screen with his larger than life persona.Yet, what's amazing is the way he tones down his body language to be, me or our neighbor. He also has a way with kids and director Kabir Khan has exploited this trait.Though older by a couple of decades, Salman still infuses an innocence to his role and we are there empathizing with him 
The hero is not to be seen for the first half hour of the movie at all. There is no 'dhamakedaar' entry of the hero. In fact, when first seen, he is seen in clothes smeared with holi colors dancing for his Hanuman. He is a Bajarangi bhakt and bows to every monkey he sights. 
In the life of this  staunch Hindu, who believes in adhering strictly to Brahmins' way of life, enters a six year old Pakistani girl (Harshaali Malhotra), who is separated from her parents and wanders into India. The story is about how Salman Khan has made his mission to re-unite her with her parents in Pakistan. 'Hum ne Bajrangbali se wada kiya hain' is his refrain. 
By the end of the movie he forgets he is not supposed to enter a masjid. He doesn't eat non-vegetarian food but when the child wants to eat, he takes her to an eatery which serves her what she likes. He believes in getting what he desires by always speaking the truth.
It is a great relief to see subtle messages in the movie without ever adapting a preachy sharp contrast to PK (have not forgiven PK yet)! Nowhere does Kabir Khan ridicule or put down any belief, religion, caste or country. What he does show is that human relations are more important than all these differences. Two important elements, humor and irony, are used to strengthen the narration. 
The little girl steals your heart from the word go. Not only does she look very pretty, she wins you over with her expressions without speaking a word! 
Nawazuddin Siddiqui  plays the role of a bumbling freelance journalist who finds a juicy story when a Hindustani is caught entering Pakistan. But as soon as he realizes the nobility of Salman's mission, he helps him unite the daughter and mother. He is, of course, someone who doesn't need to 'act' and is a delightful match to Salman and the kid. 
It is sad to see Kareena Kapoor waste her brilliance in an insignificant role. She shines even in that short appearance.
The last fifteen minutes of the movie are emotionally manipulative but then you easily overlook this, overwhelmed as you are with the story by this point. 
For all the Salman fans, does Salman take off  his shirt? Yes, he does!
A must-watch for all those who aspire to watch a movie which is both entertaining and heartwarming.