BHARAT (2019)

 

  • Release Date: 5/6/2019
  • Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Jackie Shroff, Sonali Kulkarni, Tabu
  • Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

The only time that I liked Bharat was during the portion where Kumud (Katrina Kaif) working as a National Creative Director of Zee TV conjures up a television program that finds a footing on both sides of the border (India & Pakistan). The show is essentially about bringing forth and documenting the stories of people who were estranged during the partitions and see if any one of the surviving members on both sides of the border could be reunited. It’s is easily the most worthwhile 15-20 minutes of the film. It might even get you teary-eyed. It also raises the question that why something like this hasn’t been tried till now for real even though our technical advances have touched the zenith of sophistication. Many critics have sighted this portion as manipulative and maybe it is but it worked for me. I am an emotional fool and I want myself to be that till the end.

The rest of the film though is one debacle after the other and it is so unapologetic about its goof-ups that I literally lost my temper on it after a point. Salman Khan plays Bharat and we were told in the trailers that we would be treated to the journey of this man and our nation together from 1947 to almost up till current time. We meet a Bharat in his 70s as the film starts and then we are taken back in time for episodic flashbacks that take us through Bharat’s life. We see him getting estranged from his father, Jackie Shroff, and sister in one of the few poignant scenes of the film. Before getting separated, Bharat is entrusted by his father to take care of his family and his father promises him that he would come back to him. From that point on, Bharat’s life and decision are guided by just two factors — His responsibility towards his family and his unending wait for his father’s return. This idea had a lot of potentials but unfortunately, the film makes a caricature of its own seriousness and plot points.

After making his way through odd jobs as a child, Bharat ends up as a motorcycle stuntman in what is called “Russian Circus” but looks more like an amped up Mela (Fair). He shares a nice camaraderie with Vilayti (Sunil Grover) and Radha (Disha Patani) who apparently loves him. The romance with Disha lasts one song and one sob moment and the reason for which Bharat walks out on her and off the fair is laughably pedestrian. However, I was able to forgive that and move on as I thought that better things were on the way. The film then takes us to the portion where Bharat gets recruited by an Oil Company to work as a labor in Arabia. This is when he meets “Madam Sir”, Kumud (Katrina Kaif) and this also happens to be the portion that put me in a coma. It is so stretched out, boring and cringe-worthy that I couldn’t believe that I was watching a film that was almost two years in the making. Katrina Kaif plays a character that mouths a lot of dialogues and every time she opens her mouth, her character gets exposed. Her English accent is too heavy for someone called Kumud and it weighs down on her character terribly. If that was not enough, there is unnecessary buffoonery going on in everything that is this portion and that goes on to hit the effectivity of this part terribly. The sequence where the Oilers get stuck underground after an earthquake-triggered collapse needed something heroic from Salman to ring a bell. Unfortunately, that sequence is executed in such an inane manner that it is rendered useless.

Why Kumud falls in love with Bharat is also never explained. It just felt awkward and added to the already piling sense of irritation. If Kumud’s advances were awkward, Bharat’s reply to her proposal is almost mind-numbing. He refuses marriage so that he can take care of his family as if marrying her would mean him dashing off to Morocco and never coming back. Kumud is insulted but she nevertheless comes back to India after him and agrees to be in a live-in-relationship cutting a very sorry picture for women. Up till that point, she was an independent, thinking and capable woman but her decision to be with Bharat, shunning her dignity and pride was easily one of the worst turns for a character in the film.

Bharat then joins the Merchant’s navy so that he can pay off his money-hungry relative played by Kumud Mishra and take possession of a shop that serves as the beacon for his father’s return. This was an extremely lazy ploy to make Bharat take up uniform and drag the film’s runtime a bit more. This is also the part were Norah Fatehi is married off to Sunil Grover after what was probably the most irritating sequence of the whole film. While in the Merchant’s navy, Bharat faces off against Somalian Pirates. I had a very fearsome and haunting portrait of Somalian pirates from Hollywood films and I believe that’s how they are but here, the makers make a joke out of a serious hostage situation and they do it in such a lame manner that I felt like walking out of the film. I was livid at this point of time and tragically the torture continued.

The film ends in a manner that tries to draw a parallel between Bharat and Kumud’s relationship and that of Salman and Katrina in real life. It was an unmistakable nod to their much-publicized relationship and it just went on to rub insult to injury for me. This proved how Salman “the star” was bigger than Bharat “the character” and Bharat “the film”. This to me was an unpardonable liberty. Indian cinema has reached a point where we have seen stars shed their stardom and get under the skin of their characters. Its time Salman took notice and gave the medium of cinema its due respect. Bharat will also be Ali Abbas Zafar’s weakest film date. It’s worse than Gunday. I was surprised to notice some serious lethargicity in terms of editing too. It just went on to show how much the makers were sure of Salman pulling in the crowds that they didn’t even bothered to treat the audiences with a polished film that didn’t have any rough edges.

Bharat is an insufferable bore. Too many songs, lethargic pace, useless and pointless plot and the same old Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif make up its runtime. Even the most ardent but “thinking” Salman Khan fan will find it hard to stick with this one. We associate the word “Paisa Vasool” entertainment with Salman – starrers. Bharat is not even that. That might just be the biggest tragedy of the film as it had all the ingredients to be a classic. It did shows flashes of brilliance but those were quickly overshadowed by all that was worse in this film. Last but not the least, the trailers lied. This film documents the journey of Bharat “the man” but completely forgets Bharat “The Country”.

Rating: 1/5 (1 out of 5 Stars)   

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