Banners: T-Series, SKF Films, Reel Life Productions
Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Alvira Khan Agnihotri, Atul Agnihotri
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Disha Patani, Jackie Shroff, Sonali Kulkarni, Kumud Mishra, Ayesha Raza, Shashank Arora, Satish Kaushik, Tabu, Bijendra Kala, Aasif Sheikh
Writers: Ali Abbas Zafar, Varun V Sharma (Screenplay and Dialogues)
Music: Vishal – Shekhar
The occasion of Eid in Bollywood right now is defined by Salman Khan’s films. The actor always brings something unique to the big screen during the festive season and his latest offering, Bharat, is easily one of the best Eid gifts he has given his fans.
Bharat is the quintessential commercial blockbuster, with Khan, unapologetically, being Khan, and so much more. Director Ali Abbas Zafar has laid out everything a Bhai fan would want – drama, romance, action, comedy, emotion and even a shirtless Salman Khan – on a well-packaged, larger-than-life, 70mm platter.
The story starts with a 70-year-old Bharat taking us through his journey, from when his family was torn apart during the gut-wrenching riots during Partition. We see Bharat, with his mother and siblings, trying to do the best he can to be the responsible son and brother for his family. We are taken through his daredevil teenage days as a circus stuntman, to him pouring his blood and sweat into an oil rig to earn a living for his family, to facing the challenges of the sea, and all this while dealing with the emotional trauma of Partition. He braves all this with his best friend Vilayti and the love of his life, Kumud aka ‘Madam Sir’. Eventually, Bharat has to confront the biggest challenge of his life as he struggles to reunite his family. This forms the crux of the story.
The film spans the entire lifetime of a colourful man, in little over than two and a half hours, and it is solely due to the talent of the director, who does not once drop the ball, that the momentum keeps you hooked to the story.
Bharat is an adaptation of the widely praised Korean film, Ode To My Father. While the Hindi version has a similar storyline, Zafar, who has also written the screenplay and dialogue along with Varun V Sharma, cleverly weaves in Indian elements by touching upon some of the milestones in the history of a free India, thus giving the film a desi flavour. Zafar has also expertly balanced a strong script against one that also plays to the gallery and makes room for the swag of Salman Khan on the big screen.
The film is peppered with perfect amounts of humour and emotion throughout its run. Add to this the sweet and sassy romantic angle, with Khan and leading lady Katrina Kaif, and you cannot go wrong.
While the film is unabashedly a show reel of the heroism of its lead actor, the maker has made sure that it has strong backing from the other characters too. The dialogue is well-written, especially punch lines like ‘Yeh toh bold nahi, bold-dozer hain’ thrown by Sunil Grover, Kaif and of course Khan himself.
Speaking of writing, the film plays on its main themes, which is family emotions, and Zafar and Sharma have made sure they serve up a generous helping of this in the second half, touching just the right chord with the Indian audience. From the devastation of Partition to the heart-wrenching climax, Bharat is as emotional as it can get. And with strong background music stirring those emotions, what more could the audience ask for?
The movie does have its flaws and of the more prominent ones is that the scenes are not in sync with the era they are set in. In addition, there are times when the filmmaker has taken absurd liberties. But then you remind yourself that this is a Salman Khan film, and all is forgiven.
Zafar does go a little overboard now and then but that is contained thanks to the comical, light-hearted moments that are in constant supply.
Shot at various beautiful locations across the world, Bharat is captured well by cinematographer Marcin Laskawiec but it could have been more authentic in terms of the period it is set in. The music too is not in sync with the times. While the songs, like in all Khan’s films, are chartbusters, neither the lyrics nor the tonality of the music ring true to their era. Nonetheless, whether it is Slow motion, Aithey aa, Chashni or the dumdaar track Zinda, the music adds to the commercial element of the film, big time.
After Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai, Ali Abbas Zafar has proved once again that he has his finger on the pulse of his audience, especially when it comes to his lead actor. He has made sure that the film is not just another magnum opus with Salman Khan in the centre but a film that balances commerce and content and strikes at the very heart of the masses.
Performance-wise, Salman Khan exceeds all expectations. The actor commands the screen as he always does and expertly reveals the layers in his character. Most importantly, he proves once again why he is the Bhai of all seasons, and his larger-than-life heroism on the silver screen is unbeatable.
After Zero, Katrina Kaif surprises us again, with her savage, sassy but sweet avatar. The actress holds her own throughout the film and has an edge to her spirited character of ‘Madam Sir’. Sunil Grover is just amazing in not only the comedy scenes but also the intense ones, and is the perfect Robin to Khan’s Batman.
Disha Patani’s prowess is limited to a grand dance number. Jackie Shroff is captivating in the screen time he has been allotted. Sonali Kulkarni puts in a decent performance. Strong supporting roles are played by Aasif Sheikh, Kumud Mishra, Ayesha Raza, Shashank Arora and Bijendra Kala. The special appearance by Satish Kaushik is hilarious and Tabu’s cameo is a cherry on top of this multi-layered cake.