Katrina, Grover deliver standout performances in this out and out Salman film- Vijayalakshmi Narayanan
Firstly, let’s put this across right away. This is a well-intentioned film but not a career defining film that Priyanka Chopra needs to regret about having passed over.
Written and directed by Ali Abbas Zafar (Sultan, Tiger Zinda Hai), ‘Bharat’ is adapted from the 2014 Korean film ‘Ode To My Father’, which tells the extra-ordinary story of Bharat (Salman Khan) and his journey that co-incides with significant developments in his country, India, following the dreadful Partition in 1947. His journey is replete with a life-long friend Vilayati (Sunil Grover) and the love of his life Kumud Raina (Katrina Kaif)
Now, Zafar is the only director equipped with the mettle to create a wholly, entertaining film starring Salman, that is not deprived of a story. In ‘Bharat’, the story and the entertainment quotient is in abundance. The screenplay charters key developments from modern Indian history, including the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, rise of unemployment, the 1983 Cricket World Cup final, the dawn of liberalization, privatization and globalization and the need of redevelopment. Zafar has also penned the dialogues, some of which evoke genuine laughter and whistles. The first half is completely clap-trap. What falters is the pace and the second half. The editing by Rameshwar S Bhagat is the standout demerit of the film. Too many portions feel unnecessarily crammed in without reason that it derails the viewing experience. For instance, a National Anthem moment is put in so randomly, you’re not sure whether to feel patriotic or plain stupid. Another scene involving a confrontation with Somalian pirates is resolved in a fashion similar to chalk-fights. Basically, suspension of disbelief is the key to enjoying a Salman film. Although, I’d like to grow up in a universe where I can perform at a circus, dig oil in the Middle East and join the Merchant Navy, all in a lifetime. Technically, the film scores big on account of cinematography by Marcin Laskawiec USC and the supremely mounted background music by Julius Packiam. ‘Slow Motion’ and the scenes before the song offer brilliant visuals. The sepia-toned sights of Old Delhi offer a flattering treat too.
The performances overpower the technicalities in the film. Bringing his boyish charm and inevitable swagger, Salman goes full throttle in ‘Bharat’. If he makes you laugh and clap in the lighter moments, he does move you in the emotional bits. Enough reason for his fans to cheer, this Eid, especially after the last two duds (Tubelight, Race 3). In a largely pre-dominant Salman universe, it’s a delight to watch Katrina and Grover really hold their own. Especially Katrina. Her Kumud is no-nonsense, practical, firm and can look like a million bucks even in her greys. Close after her last release, ‘Zero’, it’s refreshing to see the actress finally challenge the common perception that she is just a pretty face. The chemistry between her and Khan is another reason for fans to rejoice at the cinema halls. Grover adds a lot of respectability to Vilayati and does not let the character be reduced to a mere hero’s friend. A performance that should open more opportunities for him as an artiste. The rest of the cast barely manage to make an impression given their limited screen presence.
If your idea of fun is a mindless, clean family entertainer, then ‘Bharat’ is your best bet.