“Yeh kahaani to pehle nahi suni” avers a Pakistani soldier at the Indo-Pak border in Kabir Khan’s latest offering, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, on knowing the reason for crossing the border or rather attempting it with ‘permission’. The line pretty much sums up how you feel after watching the film. Did I mention, it’s a Salman Khan starrer? Well, it happens to be one.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan brings back the innocence of Salman Khan last seen in Maine Pyar Kiya, Baaghi, Love, and Hum Aapke Hai Kaun. The actor got stuck in the quagmire of comedy and action, right from ‘Andaaz Apna Apna-Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya era’ to the ‘Wanted-Dabanng-Kick Age’.
Tere Naam and Phir Milenge happened somewhere along the way, and so did the other extremes like Jaaneman and Veer. The die is cast. He is the Salman Bhai, jo apni Eidi lene zaroor aata hai. So here’s Bhaijaan, back with a bang to collect his Eidi on the box office, this time with a difference.
To begin with, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a departure from those zero-brainer-100 crore-earner blockbusters we’ve been accustomed to. Labeling Bajrangi Bhaijaan as a Salman-starrer will certainly be a misnomer. The film proves that given a good script, even Sallu can act saala! And how!
The first twenty minutes determines how a film is shaping up. You hate it, love it, and ignore it right in those first sattar oops twenty minutes. One must confess here that the first twenty minutes of Bajrangi Bhaijaan is one of the best opening scenes of any films lately.
Barely relying on any dialogues, the screenplay entrenches the story firmly and makes an instant connect with the audience. Well, the craft of writing doesn’t end here. The film ensures that it connects all the loops of the story in the most believable manner. Screenwriters KV Vijayendra Prasad (Writer of Bahubali and father of SS Rajamouli), Kabir Khan, Parveez Shaikh, and Asad Hussain take a bow.
Kabir Khan writes the dialogues in an old-fashionably simple manner, reminiscent of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee movies, especially the way Salman Khan’s character Pavan begins the casual banter inside the bus. The same brilliance is later noticed in the second half when Om Puri proclaims, ‘Thoda sa Kashmir hamaare paas bhi hai’.
Salman Khan approaches his role as Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi with utmost restraint. He underplays his character even in the fight sequences, making those scenes believable. He revisits the ‘Prem’ in him and goes on to make his character Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi as one of the most memorable characters of his career.
The other actor who really steals the show is of course, Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the wanna-be journalist Chand Nawab. This actor never ceases to surprise his audience, be it Faizal of Gangs of Wasseypur or Liak Tungrekar of Badlapur and gets it right every time, even if it’s a zero-brainer like Kick. Like they say, above all, it’s surely Harshaali Malhotra, the lil girl who plays Munni/Shahida. Your heart goes out for this character that has been stranded in a strange country with familiar people.
The trio makes for an exciting combination that makes Bajrangi Bhaijaan engaging, right from the first frame to the closing credits. Kareena Kapoor Khan exists somewhere between the narrative, reduced to more of a prop rather than the ‘heroine’ she has been playing in the 100-crore club films of lately.
The way she dresses up is way too glamorous for the vicinity she dwells in, but again, we know why she’s there, so no point complaining. For a change, we get to see the hero running in slow-mo to embrace a five year old kid instead of thirty five year old kid.
The messiah-like look of Salman Khan in the climax reminds of Moses walking with a stick, parting the Red Sea and making way for his followers. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, it’s Salman Khan walking while the borders are flung open, perhaps making way for meaningful commercial cinema ala Rajkumar Hirani. To sum it up, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a befitting reboot of Salman Khan.