Bharat Review 3/5: Story is full of promise and highlights major events that helped shape India

Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, this Salman Khan starrer is based on a South Korean film, ‘Ode to my father’. The film attempts to span a period of 62 years following its lead character Bharat’s (Salman Khan) life from the age of 8 in 1947 to his 70-year-old self in 2009.

It is the story of a common man who struggles to keep the promise that he made to his father (played by Jackie Shroff), even as in the background we get to see the economic and social changes that the country has seen over the span of 62 years.

Bharat and his family attempt to flee from the newly formed Pakistan

Bharat and his family attempt to flee from the newly formed Pakistan soon after the partition and as they attempt to take the last train out of Pakistan they get separated.

Bharat’s sister Gudiya is left back and the father decides to stay back to look for her. Bharat is forced to leave the country with his mother (Sonali Kulkarni) and his two younger siblings.

The father instructs him to take care of the family in his absence. Bharat takes this very seriously and all his life strives to keep the family out of harm. He also struggles to keep a grocery store that belonged to his father’s sister from being sold, as he knows that it is the one link for his father if he ever comes to India looking for them.

The story is full of promise and it is indeed a daunting task for the writers (Ali Abbas Zafar and Varun V Sharma) to dig into the past history of the country and highlight the major events that helped shape the India of today, even while narrating Bharat’s personal life story.

The writers attempt to cover it all. Back in India, Bharat and his buddy Vilayati (Sunil Grover) join the Great Russian circus and he grows up showing bike stunts and making money for the family.

Radha is in love with Bharat but has to let him go

It is in the circus that he meets Radha (Disha Patani) who’s in love with him but has to let him go because of circumstances. The story touches upon other aspects too, like the discovery of oil in the gulf region in the 70s and as a result, thousands of Indians migrating to the Middle East in search of employment.

Bharat meets the love of his life Kumud

It is here that Bharat meets the love of his life, Kumud (Katrina Kaif), who decides to live all her life with him, in spite of him making no commitment to her. Later as his uncle tries to sell the grocery store, Bharat takes up work in the merchant navy to make enough money to buy the store.

The movie also makes references to the economic liberalization in the 90s (due credit given to the then Prime Minister of the country, Man Mohan Singh), the historic first cricket World Cup win in 1983, and the rise of two ‘Gods’, Shah Rukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar among other things.

Kumud spearheads a TV programme to bring people separated during partition together

The film’s high point comes when Kumud spearheads a television programme which attempts to bring the people separated during partition together. Bharat takes part in it to look for his father and sister.

Even as the writing takes efforts to span the country’s growth over the 70 years, the execution sadly doesn’t. It is disappointing that even as the director has evidently trying to cope up with the cultural and social changes during the seven decades, he falters in quite a few places as far as showcasing those periods are concerned.

While some portions like the circus and mining incidents are shot pretty well, there are other parts of the film which seems unrealistic and taking too much of cinematic liberty. And the director seemed more focused on telling us how brave his hero is, than telling about his strong character.

Salman Khan is a miscast in playing this character which required more sensitivity than bravado. Even at the age of 70, he walks around with an envious body and takes on a few goons on his own, and that is difficult to digest unless he’s blessed with the elixir of eternal youth.

Salman looks too old when playing a 20 something role and too young when playing the 70-year-old man. Katrina Kaif impresses with a natural charm and this could be one of her best performances. However, it is the other characters around the lead pair that are very effective. Sunil Grover is excellent as Bharat’s long-suffering and constantly supporting a friend.

Disha Patani has a small role but she looks gorgeous

Disha Patani has a small role but she looks gorgeous and does a decent job. Tabu shines as she appears in a tiny role but her presence makes all the difference to the plot and the film. Sonali Kulkarni has a one-dimensional character and she looks too young to be playing Salman’s mum. Jackie Shroff, of course, is his charming best as usual.

The cinematography (Marcin Laskawiec) is fantastic. The music by Vishal Shekhar is good, as they attempt to offer a variety with foot tapping slow motion to soulful Aithe Aa.

This film at 2 hours 40 plus minutes is tad too long and unnecessarily meanders in portions of little significance.

Watch it if you are a diehard Salman Khan fan as you will see him in practically every frame.

(Review by Shubha Shetty Saha)