Review: Salman, Katrina Recreate Magic in Emotion-Loaded ‘Bharat’
Salman’s “old age” is his business, none of our business – this is the clear message from Bharat, even if you’re almost choking on your popcorn watching Salman play a “sattar” plus Bharat with a Suryavansham beard, beating up biker goons with ease.
You are expected to just be grateful for the three-and-a-half wrinkles that he sports for the sake of “realism,” never once losing his swagger walk! This is Salman Khan and he can do whatever he wants to do! And what do we do? Suspend our disbelief and play along – something that writer director Ali Abbas Zafar makes us do very smartly!
A man born pre-Partition who sees a lot of ups and downs in his own life and in the fortunes of the country he shares his name with. He suffers tremendous personal loss just as the country bleeds with the violence and pain that Partition brings in its wake.
Bharat’s struggle to keep his family together symbolically, mirrors a young India trying to build its future and recover from the pain and horrors of its past.
The opening up of the market and Bharat’s own need to take a leap of faith and yearn for something more than mere survival is another turning point. While in the film, everyone and everything, exists to validate Bharat and his many qualities, Salman in his inimitable style just makes it all his own.
Even when the story meanders post-interval, things just brighten up when Salman and Katrina are on screen.
The next smart thing is to have Sunil Grover and give him as much screen time as Khan. Playing a faithful friend to Bharat, Vilayat Singh endears himself to us. Sunil Grover’s talent and versatility was never in doubt. He simply gets to portray it better and the film is richer, thanks to him. The ensemble cast with Kumud Mishra, Sonali Kulkarni, Jackie Shroff have limited roles but again brilliant.
Of course the length could have been way shorter – at 167 mins the film falters multiple times with unnecessary songs and scenes. Also, while one understands that mainstream Bollywood films will willingly surrender realism at the altar of vanity, some kind of authentic research should have been done while making a film that claims to trace the country’s journey from 1947 to 2010!
At one point Bharat says that there is no problem in this world that cannot be solved with “baatcheet, pyaar and Bollywood filmon ke gaane” and writer director Ali Abbas Zafar smartly incorporates all these three elements such that, even if our head frequently wants to raise an objection, the heart just goes along.
At times it feels manipulative, but given the conviction with which love, loss, pain, friendship are portrayed, it's difficult not to be moved by Bharat and his story.
3 Quints out of 5! Salman hai to mumkin hai!