Bharat movie review: The Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Disha Patani starrer is essentially Bajrangi Bhaijaan 2.0
Half of us will go in expecting massy masala, while the other half will want a strong story. Without revealing who wins, I'm going with 3 stars out of 5.
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Peace talks can solve every problem, believes Bharat. But just to be sure, add Hindi filmon ke gaane and Amitabh Bachchan. And that's how a beefed-up Salman Khan saves a merchant navy ship from being robbed in Somalia.
Bharat has its clichés. You'll find maa ka pyaar, behen ki shaadi, dost ki dosti, baap ko diya hua wada and lots of romance — all soaked in a tub of sugary sweet desh bhakti. Which is why even the lead actor is named Bharat without a surname because ekta — and surnames divide said ekta.
Not Ekta Kapoor.
Heck, Bharat even has Jana Gana Mana weaved in for extra zing — which I sat out, even against peer pressure.
So, yeah, the film has a very distinct message, driven home through the life story of Bharat, as he goes from an eight-year-old to a seventy-year-old.
But here's the problem — where is Bhaijaan?
The true test of whether a film has actually had a houseful opening is when you see the first show in a moderately expensive multiplex in the heart of the national capital packed. It's not a single screen with cheap tickets, the middle-class rarely give up sleeping in on a holiday from work to catch a 9 AM show, and the rich don't need to sleep in the comforts of an AC theatre — they have it at home.
But Bharat was houseful. And guess what they came to watch?
Bhaijaan. Being Bhaijaan. In Bhaijaan style.
There were, of course, lollypop moments where a seventy-year-old Salman holds back a speeding bike to disembark the rider who was sent to beat him up — but is that enough?
Every few years, Salman tries to give his fans something other than his bracelet-wearing avatar. Jai Ho, Tubelight and Bajrangi Bhaijaan are proof. But while the first two bounced off an average Bhai fan, the last one shot a fuse somewhere in there. Well, of course, bad scripting and acting were to be blamed for their failures, but their biggest flaw was that the wacky grandness of what Bhaijaan himself embodies was missing from those films.
Which left ardent fans — who came for the Salman-giri — and film lovers — who came for the story — dissatisfied.
Bharat totally bridges that gap — just like Bajrangi Bhaijaan once had.
In the first half, Salman is dancing with Disha Patani, rides a bike on the maut ka kunwa, flexes his muscles to impress Katrina Kaif, and escapes into dream sequences with her. (Ya, that's it for Disha. One dance with Bhaijaan isn't bad though).
All this is a flashback, of course, as an elder Salman narrates his life story to his grandkids.
In the second half, he delivers an emotional performance. He cries, he fights enemies in every form, human and natural, he saves people whilst breaking into impromptu dances.
But then, is all this in Bharat enough to pique the interest of those fans who took Race 3 to ₹303 crore?
The truth is, if this was an Aamir Khan film, the unthinking audience would have accepted it with open arms.
But because it's a Salman Khan movie, half of us will go in expecting massy masala, while the other half will complain about how Salman apparently cannot act. We're both going to be left dissatisfied. We're both going to be left enriched.
Is the movie really so good that women would leave their husbands? Nope — nothing is worth leaving Nick Jonas.
But it is good enough to leave your prejudices behind. And that's priceless.
(PS: Jacky Shroff as Bharat's father, popping up here and there like the ghost of Hamlet's dad is creepy, but a necessary evil for sentimental reasons).
Overall, a nice watch, so I'm going with 3 stars out of 5.