Movie Review: This ‘Tubelight’ Is More Of A Fused Bulb

Had Kabir Khan let little Matin take the lead instead of Salman, this would have been a winner of a film.

Movie Reviews
2 min read

Pakistan isn't our only neighbour. That’s probably why Kabir Khan came up with the bright idea of a 136-minute long film to feature our often ignored other padosi, China. The "love thy neighbour" theme fits just fine with this one too, you see.

Then there’s Kabir’s best friend Salman Khan, with whom he made the delightful Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

In a role that is bound to give Bhaijaan’s PR machinery a sugar rush, Salman plays Laxman Singh Bisht, a simpleton who can do no harm. The fact that he plays a Forrest Gump knock-off with a perpetual toothache is a whole different matter.

Laxman and his younger brother Bharat are orphans who have a happy life together until they are separated by the 1962 Indo-China conflict.

Bharat joins the army and his bhai puts his jaan into getting him back safe.

It's interesting to note that Kabir Khan based his film on Little Boy and Salman essentially plays a role originally modelled on an 8-year-old. Yes, it is as absurd as it sounds. Still, we do not doubt the noble intentions behind the film.

Given the politically charged climate that surrounds us, the film has a number of scenes that reveal the flashes of brilliance that Kabir Khan displayed in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, by cocking a snook at the current establishment and juxtaposing ideals of inclusiveness and love against jingoistic nationalism.

But, it turns out that these moments of brilliance are only a flicker of a ‘Tubelight’.

India lost the war with China, but instead of dwelling on this uncomfortable fact, Tubelight dwells on Gandhian ideals.

Being able to watch Om Puri light up the screen makes this film a special experience. The expertly-restrained Puri and the other accomplished actors sportingly take a backseat, allowing the others to shine. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Yashpal Sharma and Brijendra Kala are fabulous, as is Chinese actress Zhu Zhu. But the brightest star of the film is little Matin Rey Tangu. He is the show-stealer!

Laxman believes everything he is told. So when Banne chacha tells him that his "yakeen" and faith can move mountains, he takes it literally. Does this explain his outstretched arms and constipated grunts? Sigh. Sadly "yakeen" is what we are robbed off because as unbelievable as it sounds, it's not Salman, but his younger brother Sohail who actually impresses us .

Yakeen nahi hota na? The onscreen bond between the brothers is endearing, but had Kabir Khan stuck to the original and let little Matin take the lead, this would have been a winner of a film.

I shed copious tears, but only because I was manipulated into it, not because of the heartfelt emotions.

As things stand, Tubelight is dull and stupid. Salman bhakts be warned – this Tubelight is more of a fused bulb.

I give 2 quints out of 5.

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

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