Bharat movie review: More miss than hit

The dialogue may be over-the-top but it takes us back to the time when pan-Indian films would speak fearlessly about ‘dosti’ and ‘bhaichara’ amongst sworn enemies, about how people are the same everywhere, and that the Partition hasn’t divided ‘dils’ which still beat for each other. There’s a stint in a circus, with Bharat risking his life as a stunt artist, and a coveted trip to the Middle East to help dig oil. After the half-way point, it meanders. And moving: my eyes were moist, even when I knew I was being played. They had a story which had the potential to become a solid reckoner of post-Independence nation-building, and how things rolled from then on, and a free hand to craft it. This parallel unfurls in the first half with verve and strong dollops of emotion, and gives us both scope and sweep. Step right up. Popular Photos

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Comment(s) From the tumultuous scenes of bloodshed of the Partition, and the sundering of Bharat’s family in Lahore, to their arrival in a Delhi refugee camp, in search of a future, Bharat is sure-footed. And in the arc he draws of his life, which we see mostly in flashback, it is evident that we are seeing the story of Bharat, the nation. There’s enough conviction in these portions which carries Bharat and us through, even though Khan is given enough hero-giri moments to keep him foregrounded at all times. He staggers, but is the last man standing. What else? And who better to endorse these things than a popular star? You get a sense of time past, of faded history in the recreation of those grand-but-tawdry circuses, and the ‘maut ka kuans’, which are now relegated to small-town fairs, and job-hungry Indians chasing the oil boom in the Gulf, as hard-working labour. The way it’s done is clunky, but clearly, Bharat then and even more so, Bharat now needs to hear about ‘live-in’ relationships. Yes, that’s how old Bharat No Surname is when the film opens. Advertising

For a superstar who has only lately allowed himself to be seen on screen with a middle-aged paunch-and-grizzled-jowls, to admit to being seventy plus is an act of bravery. AP EAMCET Results 2019 Declared by JNTU Kakinada: Websites to check result

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The good thing about the film, despite its eye-roll moments, is the underlining it does of a nation which belongs to us all. Advertising

Zafar, who works well with Khan (their last outing Sultan was a big hit) strikes the right notes initially when he shapes his hero as an unlettered but determined-to-do-the-right-thing-by-his-family youth, accompanied by his best friend Vilayati (Grover). Yes, it’s hard to believe that a 70-year-old can beat off four menacing young men bent upon making mincemeat of him. Treacle it may be, but the tears are real. It’s a pity that the director-star duo don’t take this as far as they could. Vilayati, played excellently by Grover, is a Muslim. Kaif makes the most of her role, as the feisty ‘Madam-Sir’ who comes into Bharat’s life, and who stays on, without, gulp, either ‘mandap’ or ‘mangalsutra’. He may have fixed a grey beard to his chin, but his chest still ripples. In a Salman Khan movie, anything is possible, even tall tales that can transcend borders. He has no last name because that’s a way to belong to the whole country, he is told: ‘tujhme poora desh hai, Bharat’. But of course. Yes, it’s all very Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and all very ‘filmi’, haha, but who doesn’t love the idea of long-separated loved ones being reunited? But the opportunity is squandered in unnecessary songs and dances, an aiming-for-cheap-laughs comic thread which involves making a stutterer the butt of jokes, and improbable situations: want to meet Hindi-film-song-loving-sea-pirates? Post interval, though, the film sags. Has Salman Khan finally grown up?