An ode to Salman’s super stardom, Ali Abbas Zafar’s film is larger than life in entertainment but lacks primarily in direction
When it’s Salman Khan on screen, do you care about the nitty-gritties of the film making in great compassion? When it’s a film that paints Salman’s signature is every frame and still has its soul in place, that’s the job well done. Bharat packs in too much- right since India’s independence to 2010 (the present times in the film), a lot has shaped the country. How a man’s life is parallely linked to that of a country’s evolution in various aspects is interesting to watch on screen. But there are some inherent flaws in the combination of written script and the translation onto screen.
Bharat (Salman Khan) is a 70 year old principled man who owns an ancestral ration shop in Delhi along with his childhood buddy Vilayati (Sunil Grover). It’s his birthday and just like every year, he plans to visit Attari station with his beloved Kumud (Katrina Kaif) and extended clan. On the way, his grandchildren ask him the reason on why he never misses to visit Attari station on his birthday. He begins telling them his story, linked to that of India.
Based on South Korean film Ode To My Father and additionally adapted/written by Zafar, the story idea is novel and every attempt has been made to present it in the most enticing manner. The film basically brings forth several phases that the country went through, how youth and people were affected by it and how lives of common people evolved with that of the country. The film attempts nation building through its underlying tone, but its remains far fetched.
There was a time when the trailers confused the audience for there was so much that the protagonist was doing- a circus artist, a Navy officer, a coal mine worker and what not. While it was difficult to comprehend this at the trailer level, during the film, the questions are all answered.
Yes, there will be some reservations with respect to the plausibility, but then, given that it’s not out rightly illogical serves the purpose well.
There’s so much to adore. While the film is high on entertainment (which is a good part), it also packs in emotions, humor, action, drama and the connect it shares with the country’s sociology-political scenario over the years. References to Nehru’s death, banking on Salma Sultana’s popularity, advent of media and satellite TV, globalization are many.
For Salman fans, the film is a visual and emotional treat. Presenting Salman in various avatars since 1947, it gives viewers a chance to admire their hero as much as they can. He’s been given to the audience and Salman does reciprocate well. Only thing, the make-up team had great potential, but they fail to a great deal, except foe the middle aged phase. The makers couldn’t do much with Salman’s look and body (with aid of technology and technique for the matter), a minus of the viewing experience.
Also, it’s a clear case of lacking direction. There are sequences with should have made you laugh, but you keep sitting with straight face. There are moments where you should have sympathized or related with the characters, but you don’t feel that connect. Not that the situations aren’t written well. All this only because of displaced direction by Zafar, so much so that 167 mins of the film seem dragged. Unnecessary inclusion of slapstick situations like the one involving Somalian pirates puts you off big time.
Salman Khan is in the top game. He’s right there with his typical mannerisms, something he’s loved for. Acting wise, there are evident moments where he could have performed better. His physical stiffness too hinders the character development at times. His dialogue delivery too seems forced at times. But the charming quotient is even more than what is expected of him.
Katrina Kaif is very good. She has a strong role, a great and able support to the protagonist and she does a decent job. After Zero, she once again proves she can very well act.
Disha Patani in a brief role looks exceedingly beautiful and scintillating but suffers mainly due to poor character sketching.
Tabu in a very small role is good and brings in a pleasant surprise for the audience. Jackie Shroff in a small role is impact ful.
Sunil Grover proves he’s more than just a comedian. He’s acted so well that it becomes difficult to take your eyes off him in the scenes where he’s on screen. He’s a champion. A winner. His characterization needed more thought and grip though.
Kumud Mishra, Ayesha Raza, Brijendra Kala, and Sonali Kulkarni have all done fine but the writers didn’t bother to give their characters any voice or substance.
Vishal-Shekhar’s music suits the album. Also it’s intelligent of the makers to incorporate the songs at well times intervals serving as good breathers. Background score too is simply superb setting the line of thought at major portions.
Cinematography by Marcin Laskaweic is exemplary. Setting the tones right from pre-independence era to modern times with different visual build up for separate timeline, Marcin has made sure you are invested visually along with feeling the flavor of the story. Production design walks hand in hand with camera where you are always connected with what you are seeing. A good job here.
Editing by Rameshwar Bhagat is sharp. Since the plot involves too much, editing here was difficult to achieve. Giving justification to each element and phase shown never making the audiences lose the interest is not a cakewalk. Bhagat does the task with conviction and you do get the film’s appeal well.
When it’s a Salman Khan film, it’s not a perfect piece of art. There are flaws, some breaking of rules, and sometimes the film even going too ambitious. This one here stays grounded- something that the film deserves applauds for. It’s a very good piece of entertainment where without getting a hotchpotch, the makers present a highly layered story with emotional values on offer. It’s long. It also bores you at times. But go for it, if you look for sensible entertainment from films.