It’s easy to let films of the past trivialize any attempt to dissect a performance. An easy-laidback attitude always comes to mind. But Bhaijaan works a little harder here and he is given splendid company by the two stars-six-year-old Harshaali Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Siddiqui is the uncrowned Nawab of Bollywood; the underrated star who grinds through any role with the hunger of a talented newcomer. Harshaali performs with the zest of a veteran to create moments in the movie with just her eyes and facial expressions. Her actions thunder louder than words.
Easily, this is the best female performance till date this year. Easily, she is the soul of the movie; not to forget the heart, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
This may not be Kabir Khan’s best work. NEW YORK still ranks high up there. But keeping bhaijaan in mind, he adds the right dose of entertainment, melodrama, action, tension and song-and-dance, to whet your palate this Eid. There are loopholes and unnecessary scenes that take this movie to 2 hours and 40 minutes. Kabir could have cut through those mundane scenes to a crisp 120 minutes, but then, you have to play to the gallery and Bhaijaan’s bhakts would anytime want more screen time with their idol!
Kabir also plays the Indo-Pak card to a nicety, bringing in religion, love and cross-border conflict. The ‘News angle’ on television and the power of the internet scenes are also handled interestingly by Kabir. To that end, he has touched upon almost every aspect between the two nations [including cricket] without getting into the terror mode which has been done to death!
Munni (Harshaali Malhotra) is a mute girl who gets separated from her mother at an Indian Railway station near the border. After a night in a goods train she finds herself face-to-face with Pawan (Salman Khan) a Hanuman bhakth with a heart of gold. He hates to lie, which explains later on why, when he had the option to sneak across the border, he waits for permission!
At first, Pavan thinks she has been lost in a mela, but soon realizes that she has nowhere to go as she keeps following him. Being mute, it’s difficult to find out from her where she comes from. This journey of Pavan, to unite her with her parents, is what the film is all about.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a Pakistani reporter, who first wants the scoop on a ‘Traitor entering enemy soil’ to being the one to help Bhaijaan in his mission, is extemporaneous. Poetry in motion best describes his performance.
Now, for Salman Khan! As opposed to his recent releases, he goes into a shell so to speak to emerge as this nondescript character with a simple devotion to being good and doing good. His ‘dishoom dishoom’ self explodes, too, when he realizes Munni is being taken for a ride, after he hands her over to an agent to take her to Pakistan.
A scene well handled with minimum fuss and maximum impact!
BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN plays on your emotions and tugs at your heart. Hours after you walk out of the theatre, the performances by Harshaali Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui stay with you.
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