Another Eid, and there it is- another Salman Khan aka Bhai's film. An effort to cash in on the trending sentiment of nationalistic patriotism, the film is bound to do well on the box office. But well, the good thing is-this nationalism is not too loud (though Bhai spoils the fun by singing the national anthem)
Salman Khan really needs to get out of the larger than life persona he has created for himself. Bajrangi Bhaijan had given us hope, but then once again the superstar fell back to his safe zone. Consequently, we got a crass films like Race 3 which went on to earn quite well on the box office though, or an average film like Bharat on a good topic.
As the film's title suggest, it has ‘almost’ two protagonists- one Hindu and one Muslim, ‘almost’ since the Muslim character is just a ‘friend’, who seems to support the protagonist in everything he does.
The good thing is that Hindu protagonist even the Muslim one doesn’t really have a ‘sir name’. The heroine is aggressive, ‘bold’ ‘madam sir’ and has no qualms about living together, independent enough to not need marriage at all. But there is no focus on details (except perhaps clothing little bit), no focus whatsoever on characterisation-well, when Salman Bhai is there, who needs other characters!
Even a good actor/comedian Sunil Grover fades into being just a sidekick. Satish Kaushik as the captain of the ship is amazing in a very brief appearance. Katrina, well, is as usual just good looking, Disha Patani looks stunning in a yellow-what-can be-called-something- like-a saree
Apparently, inspired by a Korean film An Ode To My Father, Bharat tries to trace the one dimensional history of Bharat, India through the struggles of Bharat, the protagonist who has come to this side of the country after the Partition and tries hard to fend for himself and his family as he has to keep the promise he had made to his father before he gets lost in the riot and stampede.
But there are things he does which are hard to believe—he does a job in the Russian circus (which hardly looks like the Russian circus of the time), With just a speech, the protagonist gets a job not only for himself but also for his team!! Where does it happen, Mr Director? Why should everyone in the film fraternity have to prove their 'nationalistic patriotism' in every film?
Bharat does motorcycle stunts, fights racialism, comes back from the mining accident, works on a ship and even fights with pirates armed with love and Hindi film songs (believing that duniya ki koi bhi ladayi batcheet, pyar aur Hindi filmon ke gaanon se jeeti ja sakti hai) -- - ab Bhai hai to sab mumkin hai!
The director desperately tries to portray an ideal, 'what everyone wants an Indian to be' Indian (this crop of Indians who, at least dreamt of such idealism is long gone). But in brief what Bharat always seems to be preoccupied with is the idea of earning more money—well, is it a typical Indian preoccupation- that despite all that apparent love for the nation, nostalgia for home, what drives us most is the desire (read compulsion) to earn more?
The film slackens in places, especially with the songs, though songs are catchy and hummable. It refers to Nehru ji’s death, oil drilling in the Middle East, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Dr Manmohan Singh to convey the change in times.
It is the second half of the film which is much better and draws attention. Deftly avoiding the political intricacies, it rather focuses on people's sentiments and the tragedy of millions who lost their loved ones in Partition. The second half also is more appealing as it doesn’t harp on deshbhakti, but love and compassion among people. The hero though seems to fight racialism, the film avoids mention of caste or religion-which although so unnecessary, are very strongly embedded in our psyche. May be, Bharat is the projection of our wishful thinking-of having a simple society not marred by those complexities. But well, reality is, after all not that simple.
Though the effort to make apolitical films on topics which are primarily political is praise worthy, but the carelessness with which commercial film directors treat the details, dialogues, visuals and characterisation- is deplorable.
Ah, but all said and done, you tend to forgive the frivolous first half during the sentimental second half and come out of the hall thinking ‘Bhai still rocks!”