So you have the incredibly cute Pakistani Rasgulla “Shahida” ( named after the famous Lala from Team Pakistan ) who inadvertently strays away from her train and is left behind in India. Her mother, who had got her to India to get blessings at Dargah Hazrat Nizammudin, realizes that she is left behind in India only when the Samjhauta Express reaches Pakistan. Now, it’s upto our very own Doodh Pedha “Pavan” a.k.a. Bajrangi Bhaijaan to get her back to Pakistan. He’s got no Passport, no Visa, only the blessings of Bajrang Bali to help him. Will he be able to fulfill this incredible task? Will it be a happy ending? Well, for this you will NOT have to watch this movie!!! You already know it. Ofcourse it will. This is Hum Saath Saath hai meets Gadar, ain’t it?
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is meant to be a crowd pleaser, tear jerker and it succeeds for a large part of the film. Salman slips into his goodie-too-shoes and strays away from his usual macho-buffoonery. His simpleton act, though not entirely new, works to his benefit. And it helps that the girl he is fighting for is incredibly cute herself. No, I am not talking about Kareena Kapoor Khan, but Harshaali Malhotra who plays the 6 year old Shahida!
The first half drags for a bit, but Salman’s entry gives the film the much needed momentum. Dollops of goodness are added by Kabir Khan, as Salman narrates his childhood tale and takes Shahida to Delhi. And then starts the tedious task of finding out where this little girl is from. It doesn’t help though that the girl can’t speak.
After an incredibly long hour, he finally realizes that she is a Muslim from Pakistan! So, this pious Hanuman Bhakt takes it upon himself to get her back home. As he enters Pakistan, Nawazuddin comes into the picture and things suddenly take a pleasant turn. Nawaz starts off as a bumbling journalist, but then becomes the smart foil Salman needs to get this girl home. While the story chugs along well for the next hour, it loses momentum towards the end. And then starts the painful last stretch.
Kabir Khan tries every trick in the Hirani book to squeeze those extra tears. Slow motion shots, extra long songs, teary eyed beaten up Salman, rousing music, incredible Cross-border support and overwhelmingly well-intentioned human beings. By the end of it, you want to puke because of the overdose of sugar. A touch of salt would have helped.
The songs are OK, but what saves the film is its excellent cinematography and able support cast. Nawazuddin and Meher Vij (Shahida’s mother) stand out and make more impact than Kareena, who has an incredibly small role(thankfully). And then there is Mr.Being Human himself, Salman Khan. He shows ample restraint and makes you root for him. This is no Chulbul Pandey dhamaka, but Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi will be remembered as one of his better roles. That this comes at a difficult time for him personally, is an incredible PR coup! So yes, it seems like a big fat Being Human Advertisement.
Go ahead, watch this film, coz it is a well-made ( though slightly stretched) family entertainer. But be sure to take some teekhi chatni along, or you might not be able to survive this Cross Border Diabetic attack!
P.S.: Couldn’t help but laugh at the Disclaimer “No Animals were hurt during the making of this film”. Was wondering whether they meant “Shot” instead of “Hurt” or did they actually mean that only Humans were run over while they shot the film!!!