Bajrangi Bhaijaan could easily be Salman Khan’s best film till date. It effortlessly betters the social lessons left over by “Jai Ho” or even the shamelessly mass entertaining “Kick”. This film for once will make you sentimental and I was particularly amused at the manner in which Kabir Khan has mellowed down Salman Khan’s persona and portrayed him as a much lesser and easy to believe in mortal than the “all bashing superman” that films like “Kick”, “Jai Ho” and even Kabir Khan’s very own “Ek Tha Tiger” had made him to be. This is one film which remains on track for most of the time and sans a flurry of convenient coincidences which happen rather regularly, the film tries to remain believable and effective.
The story revolves around a mute Pakistani girl Shahida (Harshaali Malhotra) who travels to India with her mother to visit the Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s Dargah in Delhi. On her way back her train is stranded right next to the border when Shahida notices a hapless lamb stuck in a ditch. She gets down from the train to rescue the lamb and it is at this juncture that the train moves leaving her behind. Coincidence happen again and again as she lands up in Kurukshetra where she meets the man with the golden heart, Pawan (Salman Khan). Pawan takes her under his aegis and tries to find out where she is from?
Some more coincidences later, Pawan and his wife-to-be Rasika (Kareena Kapoor) unlock the fact that Shahida is from Pakistan. Pawan tries to send her over to Pakistan but she lands up in the hands of a man who tries to sell her off to a brothel. Distraught and angry, Pawan decides to reunite her with her parents on his own and travel all the way to Pakistan. He is unable to get the Visa for her and himself and so crosses over the border illegally. Once on the other side he meets Chand Nawab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a self-styled reporter and a flurry of other helpful Pakistanis who help him on his noble quest. Will Pawan succeed? Will the girl meet her parents? Will Pawan be arrested for being a RAW agent? How will he return home? These are the questions which drives the narrative of this film.
The film is laced with sentimentality and wonderful situational comedy. The journey of Pawan from being a staunch Hindu who is afraid to even set foot inside a mosque to being the guarding angel of a girl who is exactly the opposite of what he is in every way is heartening to watch. What further elevates the narrative is the fact that Kabir Khan sticks to the human drama and keep the jingoism to an absolute minimum. The film rides on the chemistry and comedy between Pawan and Shahida in the first half and then in the second half, Nawazuddin Siddiqui takes over. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Nawaz takes the thunder away from Salman on more than one occasion. His simplistic yet witty portrayal of a man who is bowled over by the goodness of an Indian is amusing to watch.
Salman Khan is his usual self and comes into his heroic avatar in a few scenes which are quickly mellowed down in keeping with the mood of the film. His scenes with the stunning Kareena Kapoor are well done in the first half and in the second half he shares a great camaraderie with Nawaz which also helps to elevate the effect of the narrative. Harshaali Malhotra is superb as Shahida. She looks and acts the part with conviction and shares a great chemistry with Salman. The many song and dance routines are again a sore thumb. The runtime of the film is stretched unnecessarily because of these songs and in the first half I couldn’t help but feel a tad bit restless. But that’s about it. The second half will leave you with a big smile on your faces and will undo whatever wrong the first half might have done.
The film boasts of beautiful cinematography by Aseem Mishra which is ably complimented by the crisp editing of Rameshwar S. Bhagat. The music by Pritam though is making waves was not satisfactory for me. The background score also is a tad bit disappointing as it hardly accentuates the dramatic and the few action sequences that are there. The actors are left to extract the “oomph” primarily through their essay and expressions. For all those who are willing to take this film as an entertainer and are ready to shun logic for two and a half hours, there are plenty of rewards particularly in the second half. Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a film with a lot of heart and it is bound to find takers among one and all. It is a gala Id gift for all Salman fans and movie lovers across India. It tries to show that humanity pervades all borders, religion and sect and is able to pull that off in great style.