Rare shades of Salman made perfect – Bhaijaan style

Bajrangi Bhaijaan has a simple plot and is sure to be a box-office hit.

A scene from Bajrangi Bhaijaan featuring Salman Khan and Harshaali Malhotra. Courtesy Eros International
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Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Directed by: Kabir Khan

Starring: Salman Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Harshaali Malhotra

Three stars

Bajrangi Bhaijaan marks the much-awaited reunion of the successful actor-director duo Salman Khan and Kabir Khan after their 2012 mega hit Ek Tha Tiger. And with high expectations surrounding the film's release, it manages to deliver on most counts.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the story of the golden-hearted, honest and endearing Pawan Kumar Chautrvedi (Salman Khan), also known as Bajrangi. A chance encounter with a six-year-old mute Pakistani girl, Munni (Harshaali Malhotra) who gets lost in India, leads to Bajrangi becoming her guardian angel and resolving to help find her family.

Kareena Kapoor Khan, Salman’s love interest in the movie, has a small role, playing the school teacher, Rasika. However, the pair lack the chemistry and their romance seems pretty forced. Thankfully, the film does not dwell much on this and moves along swiftly to the Bajrangi and Munni angle.

Thus begins Bajrangi’s journey to Pakistan in search of Munni’s family and the many misfortunes he encounters along the way – least of which being the absence of a passport and visa for both. However, what drives the plot forward is the innocence and purity of Bajrangi’s and Munni’s relationship. Bajrangi’s care for Munni transcends all religious and national boundaries. This also provides the backdrop for many memorable sequences in the film. Most heart-touching are the scenes where Bajrangi, a vegetarian and devout Hindu, takes Munni to a non-vegetarian restaurant and enters a mosque looking for her, much against his religious sentiments.

What really works for the movie is the superb acting of Malhotra and her endearing relationship with Khan. Despite being mute in the film, she captivates the audience through her expressions. She makes the audience laugh and cry with her – they feel her pain.

The film has a simple plot served deliciously by Kabir Khan's direction. Ties between India and Pakistan have been the bedrock of all his previous films (Kabul Express, New York, Ek Tha Tiger), and is no different in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. However, while the previous ventures focused on terrorism, this one extols the virtues of love and humanity in tackling the issue.

An expert at drawing out the humane elements of his characters, the director has yet again stitched together an impressive set of players that keep the movie ticking, at the heart of which is Khan delivering an undertoned yet powerful performance. This is quite unlike a usual Salman Khan movie. Devoid of his customary bare-chested action sequences and double-meaning one liners, the film keeps true to its simple plot without pandering into unnecessary gimmicks. Full marks here to the director for bringing out the rare shades of the actor.

The antics of the on-screen Bajrangi will no doubt rub-off positively on the off-screen persona of Salman Khan and further boost his kind-hearted, bad-boy-turned-good image, especially at a time when the star needs this the most – he faces a possible detention.

The other highlight of the film is the second-half entry of Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the small time Pakistani TV journalist, Chand Nawab. Siddiqui impresses, like he has in most of his recent works. He acts as an accomplice to the Bajrangi-Munni duo as they evade the Pakistani police in their search for Munni’s home.

Towards the end, it is Chand Nawab who ultimately delivers Munni to her parents, as Bajrangi is hounded by the Pakistan police. And it’s here that the screenplay leaves many gaps – how Bajrangi manages to cross borders, survive in Pakistan without any local currency, and the highly ludicrous climax that sees Bajrangi walking across the Indo-Pak border back into India. But these plot-blotches can be ignored in the face of what otherwise makes for an entertaining viewing.

The music of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, composed by Pritam, blends well with the plot. In fact, some of the songs have already become popular such as Selfie Le Le Re (sung by Vishal Dadlani and others) and the Eid song Aaj Ki Party (sung by Mika).

Coming as it is after the money spinner Kick, Khan has delivered another sure-shot box office winner.