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'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' review: An emotional crossing-over

'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' review: An emotional crossing-over

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Friday 17 July 2015

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Movie Title

Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Director

Kabir Khan

Star Cast

Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

A little girl, six years of age, is separated from her mother on a journey. Her mother is distraught, till a man consoles her by saying, there will be a khuda ka banda who will take care of her.

Cut to a rambunctious dance sequence that introduces our hero, the khuda ka banda, the Being Human guy, the dance-and-selfie happy Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi aka Bajrangi. Pawan (Salman Khan) is nicknamed thus after his devotion to Bajrang Bali, such that even a monkey crossing his path receives a respectful folding of hands.

This simpleton is now faced with an even more challenging task than clearing his board exams, which took him 20 years. He finds the lost girl Munni in a crowded street, who refuses to let go off him.

The fact that Munni can't talk makes it that much more difficult for Bajrangi to locate her parents. And when he learns that she's from across the border, he realizes the task of getting her home will be even more arduous.

The film trails this journey to Pakistan to get the girl home - a journey with equal parts friends and foes, politics, and a lot of life lessons.

Bajrangi, for example, is a pure vegetarian who has to shove his judgmental side aside, to order meat for the little girl, even singing a ditty about it. He enters a mosque gingerly to hide from people about to arrest him, and realizes that the maulvi is a kindly fellow. He understands he can worship at a temple and a dargah at the same time, without offending his beloved Bajrang Bali. He understands the fallacy of man-made borders and religious politics that divide people on a superficial level, but cannot contain their beating hearts. And as an audience, we absorb and mull over these lessons too.

The child then becomes the symbol of a human being who is completely free and trusting, who has not yet learned the fear-based ways of the world, and is happier for it.

The actor playing the child's part – Harshaali Malhotra - is astoundingly convincing and confident, folding in the dual qualities of being completely guileless and surprisingly smart, as children tend to be. It is a bit lookist on the part of the filmmakers to refer to the kid's angelic face on and off, especially her complexion. Like the character assuming she's a Brahmin as she is doodh jaisi safed.

This is a quite a departure for Salman Khan. Here he sheds the Dabangg mode and plays the small-town bumpkin with aplomb. He's earnest, he's convincing, and he's determined to make you like him in this avatar. Dropping the hyper-macho image, here he plays the adorable softie, taking care of Munni with paternal love, and getting proposed to by his assertive school-teacher girlfriend.

In the midst of all this sugary love, Nawazuddin Siddiqui storms in to add some spice. Playing a small-time Pakistani reporter, Siddiqui is a riot! From branding Bajrangi a spy, to asking our hero whether his Bajrang Bali will be of any help in Pakistan and collapsing into laughter, to switching sides, Siddiqui is an absolute treat! He's one of the main reasons the film turns so entertaining in the second half!

Kareena Kapoor is resplendent in her ethnic avatar, her kohl-lined eyes speaking a million words. It's a pleasure to see the actress onscreen and she's very impactful even in the limited screen-time.

Director Kabir Khan makes a film that encourages us to think of man-made borders as just that. He makes us wonder what we'd do if we were in Bajrangi's place. And that's a sign that the story has seeped in, and made you think.

Sweeping visuals, laid-back humour and crackling dialogue make this journey that much more fun. The finale is a teary-eyed affair, with melodrama, and everyone walking in slow-motion. One would have liked to see some restraint here. One would have also liked some restraint in defining people from India and Pakistan in broad, simplistic strokes.

Even if it meanders aimlessly for a while, the story reaches its destination in the end. And I doubt if anyone in the audience will leave the theatre unaffected. Do watch!

Rating: 3.5 stars