Salman makes you wallow in mush
Tubelight is a Salman Khan show all the way and it follows his mellowed, humanitarian avatars on-screen of late
This part of the review is for Salman Khan fans.
Yes, 'Bhai-log', your Salman will make you weep in this film. You will be awed by how he tries to bring out new levels of emotion, and you can see that he is trying quite hard. Most often it works, and you feel empathy for him.
Tubelight does not have any of Sallu Bhai's (Salman's) action sequences, and sadly, no romance. This is totally 'family' stuff - where you will be taken into the past. Salman plays a simpleton, Laxman, who shares a close bond with his brother Bharat (Sohail).
When Bharat goes to fight the Indo-China war, Laxman tries to bury his sorrow by taking up Gandhi's teachings and living by them.
Don't think too much about Sallu Bhai and Gandhi, and how the two go together, but he makes his mission of love clear, and you will discover that the values of 'being human' he teaches you again and again. Here, he has only one message: 'Faith can move mountains.' (and Salman does that! Yes, he does).
So if you love Sallu Bhai, simply enjoy two-and-a-half hours with him (And we go by the rating - 3/5. Sorry, we cannot give any more than that).
Now, for those who don't belong to the Sallu Bhai universe, let us say (in the kindest of words), Tubelight is strictly - not even for his fans - for the Salman Khan Films' family. At one point, it was hard not to think of Salma and Salim Khan watching their doting sons, wiping tears, and thinking, 'Our boys! How big they have become!'
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Tubelight suffers from an overdose of saccharine sweetness and a Salman Khan avatar that tries desperately to be loveable and endearing.
This is more Jai Ho than Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Sultan. This is Salman on a territory he has never ventured into. All the formula that works for mushy potboilers have been thrown in here: So we have a cute boy (Matin Rey Tangu), a rude friend (Zeeshan Ayyub) who teases and taunts Laxman, a kind old man (Om Puri, we miss you!), and many saccharine moments that want to make you cry (literally or figuratively). And we also have Shah Rukh Khan in an important cameo (very impressive).
Tubelight comes with no typical build-up. Laxman's innate faith in himself and how it works in his favour, in his quest to bring back his brother from a war (where he goes missing) is what the film is all about.
Salman admits (as in an earlier City Times interview) that he knows his limitations as a performer, so you respect him for the effort. As for the others, well, they play along. The real star is the film's editor - Rameshwar Bhagat; he does a fantastic job of stitching together puzzling pieces; also on the plus side are its cinematography and background score - both top-notch.
Tubelight takes one of the most painful incidents in Indian history and turns it into Bollywood mush with political correctness touching on soldiers, patriotism, martyrs, their families, and Gandhi.
But with just a concept and not a powerful script, this Tubelight is a zero-watter.
Starring: Salman Khan and Sohail Khan
Directed by Kabir Khan
Now playing at theatres in the UAE