'Bharat' review: Salman Khan's larger-than-life act is exhausting

Bharat review: Salman Khans larger-than-life act is exhausting

A story spanning seven decades! But does it entertain?

By Anita Iyer

Published: Thu 6 Jun 2019, 2:52 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2019, 1:38 PM

Set between 1947 and 2010, Salman Khan's Eid release, 'Bharat' chronicles the journey of a 70-year-old man, Bharat - with no surname - and the story of India, parallelly.
Spanning over seven decades, the story might have looked appealing in script form but not necessarily on the screen. Add to that, the India-Pakistan partition of 1947 where families are separated, only with the hope of meeting in the climax and you have a tear-jerker, patriotic holiday release? Again, not certainly.   
Because through this 70-year journey, the film travels from Pakistan to India, meanders directionlessly from Bharat (Salman Khan) being part of a circus, going to the Middle East to work in an oil field, joining a merchant ship to make extra bucks and finally ending his quest at a cross-border live show that aims to reunite families separated during partition - courtesy an Indian channel. As a moviegoer, you sit with an underlying fear guessing where the film will head next.
A remake of the 2014 South Korean movie, 'Ode to My Father',  this period drama is the third time collaboration between director Ali Abbas Zafar and Salman Khan. But unlike his earlier grossers, 'Sultan' and 'Tiger Zinda Hai', the writer-director goes too far in his imagination with 'Bharat'.   
What we are served is a long, exhaustive, emotionally manipulative cinema, spread over 2 hours and 35 minutes. With a title like 'Bharat', predictably, there is a heavy dose of desh in the film because as his father (Jackie Shroff) says, 'Tujhme poora desh hai, Bharat' (The whole country is within you, Bharat).

If we move over bhai, Katrina Kaif (Kumud) addressed as 'Madam-Sir' by Bharat is the strong-willed, feisty, post-partition Indian lady. The couple makes a statement by having a live-in relationship but eventually fall in the trappings of getting married. A newsreader during the Emergency period, Kumud finds bliss in rather handling our hero's Hind Ration Store as he goes away sailing to make extra money.
Sunil Grover as Bharat's friend Vilayati makes the long narrative watchable. His impeccable comic timing justifies his well-written part. Sonali Kulkarni as Bharat's mother is impressive and we have the ladies, Disha Patani and Nora Fatehi, making fleeting appearances in the film, for no reason.
In the end, Salman Khan delivers a crowd-pleasing performance in every frame. With immense love for his country and his family, he dances, sings, romances and also fights in a forcefully-added action sequence in the climax.
Adding to the length of the movie are the songs, with only two being notable - 'Slow motion' and 'Chashni' with bhai showing off his notorious dance moves. 
Although Ali Abbas  Zaffar tries hard to kindle emotions with the family reunion and partition scenes, it doesn't move you much.
As it is Salman Khan's annual offering to his fans, do not expect any logic or subtlety. It is an out-and-out masala entertainer not to be critically viewed. 

Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Jackie Shroff, Sonali Kulkarni, Tabu
Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar
Ratings: 2.5/5
- anita@khaleejtimes.com

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