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BHARAT - Having its share of liberties and forced humour, the film still works due to its strong emotional connect, a noteworthy supporting cast and all pleasantly surprising cameos apart from the most popular icon. (Review By Bobby Sing)

05 Jun, 2019 | ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / B / Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases

The mainstream Hindi Cinema mostly relies upon or largely gets represented by its strong emotional connect with the viewers through its icons and a talented supporting cast making a solid impact. Keeping the same in mind, BHARAT is a differently adapted, Indianized version of the Korean film ODE TO MY FATHER (2014) which fails at many levels but thankfully scores in both these departments along with many pleasant surprises (cameos/references) and a Salman Khan, courageously trying to find new subjects suiting (as well as accepting) his age. The film has all the typical insertions of a Hindi mainstream film taking loads of creative liberties and yet is not the routine venture with a different kind of storyline of around six decades.

Having seen the original, I was really eager to see how the creative team led by Ali Abbas Zafar adapts the screenplay as it didn’t have much of the commercial entertainment values required by a mainstream Hindi film and was more of a serious, meaningful and tragic emotional, family drama. As expected, the team has not made an exact remake of the original but a quite different film of their own with many new additions focusing on the heroism and swag of the lead hero, along with plenty of forced comic insertions in its long duration of around 167 minutes.

So one cannot even go into the comparisons as despite having a similar storyline these are two entirely different films with the original being of another league altogether (though it doesn't feature in my list of Essential Must Watch Movies)

To give you the gist, BHARAT turns out to be a messy mix of almost everything Hindi mainstream cinema is known for with its emotional connect intact and the tragic depiction of 1947 both in the beginning and the second half making a more than decent impact. In fact the opening train sequence (featuring an impressive Jackie Shroff) and the Indo-Pak TV program (featuring the ravishing Tabu) remain the major highpoints of the film, getting the much needed support from its supporting cast (led by Sunil Grover). 
Stating the positives first, what actually works in the film is it's opening with the two kids, the Circus section featuring the charming Disha Pattani, the song ‘Slow Motion’, the entertaining references of Amitabh Bachchan’s hit songs (both in the first and second half), the short mention of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Shah Rukh Khan and the entertaining cameo of Satish Kaushik as the Captain of the ship bringing the house down. Besides what also draws your attention is the suggestive name of Desh-Darshan Channel pointing towards Doordarshan and Katirna Kaif posing as the news reporter reminding you of the famous Salma Sultan and her big flower in the hair (active before the 90s).
Though it intentionally incorporates the National Anthem in a scene (that could have been avoided), the good thing is that it isn’t any at your face kind of patriotic film promoting jingoism. The writers carefully blend patriotism into its various sequences and dialogues along with forced humour that partially works at times, beginning with the delightful performances of two exceptionally talented kids.
The cinematography (Marcin Laskawiec) and background score (Julius Packiam) contribute well in its tense and emotional sequences, but the same cannot be said about its art direction and music composed by Vishal and Shekhar. Though the songs sound fine while watching the film, the soundtrack still doesn’t come up with any outstanding take-home track except ‘Slow Motion’ having some catchy beats and an exciting choreography. Moreover, as usual there are more than required songs and the film could have easily done without 2 or 3 resulting in much shorter length.
Here another point to be accepted is that since one cannot make a film titled BHARAT about the history of the country beginning from partition without including Punjabis and Punjabi songs in its narration, therefore we have more than one song in the film with Punjabi based lyrics, which actually do not match with the characterisation.
The film’s length is certainly an issue and the editing should have been tight towards the end in particular. Probably that is the reason why the finale does tend to be a bit lengthy as well as abrupt with a much impressive pre-climax than the climax and a song coming quite late even after the end credits start rolling.
Further stating the downers, every tragedy or trouble is taken care of by the hero in the typical filmy manner with an unexplained convenience and this includes the mine-collapse sequence wherein Salman comes out with many other injured workers just like that. Moreover the sub-plot of a family approved live-in relationship back in those decades was entirely out of the place with no acceptable justifications. 
So moving drastically away from the original realistic Korean worth watching film, BHARAT is an intentionally tweaked, highly Indianized version that tries to do two things at the same time. It attempts to experiment and present a novel kind of narrative to the excited viewers but with the usual formulaic insertions solely roped in to provide entertainment for their ticket bought. 
No doubt the intention is very clear of making a commercially successful film, but in the process (post a better first half) the actual storyline eventually loses its soul and the film doesn’t serve the core purpose of showcasing all the labour work done in various countries and historical happenings in the six decades of our independence. 
Having said that, the best thing about BHARAT is that even being a Salman Khan film, this happens to be a project with major contribution coming from its supporting cast as we last witnessed in Khan’s BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN (but it doesn’t score at the same level for its various drawbacks).
To be fair, Salman looks and acts fine as he always does playing the young BHARAT, but doesn’t look natural as the old man, displaying exactly similar mannerisms and body movements. The same cannot be said for Katrina, for her two kinds of portrayals as she tries her best to deliver much more than the expectations. Though many might not like her unusual hairstyle and minimal make-up too as the old woman, Katrina still successfully manages to come up with an act quite better than her earlier ones. 
However as mentioned before BHARAT actually belongs to its supporting cast that brilliantly enhances the proceedings right from the beginning to the end. Where Jackie Shroff and the two young kids (Kabir and Aaryan) straightaway win your heart in the opening sequences, the talented Sunil Grover constantly keeps the entertainment quotient alive in the film’s two halves and Tabu turns out to be a great surprise before the climax bringing tears to your eyes.
Both Satish Kaushik and Aasif Sheikh are a delight to watch post intermission and Disha Pattani does spell her charm in the few scenes and a song. On the other hand, sadly talented actors like Sonali Kulkarni (as the mother), Kumud Mishra (as the uncle), Shashank Arora (as the cousin brother) and Nora Fatehi get wasted in their small roles. Especially I wished to see more of Sonali since she was playing the mother and Disha Pattani too in the first half.
The film does become a drag in between but gets back on track with the emotional and highly relatable references of people featuring on the TV show being aired both in India and Pakistan together. This section is actually the main attraction as well as a big saving grace of the film, which will particularly appeal to the people who are somehow connected to that unbelievable trauma themselves or have been in personal contact with the suffering victims as their family elders. 
Being one of those kids who used to hear many heart wrenching personal accounts of those times from my grandfather (even when others in the family disapproved such sharing with a teenage kid), I could easily relate to the proceedings and am extremely thankful to my grandfather for having shared it all with me, probably sensing or knowing that I might be writing about it all in the future. 
Much later, almost a decade back when I participated in the making of a documentary on partition and while contributing in a film-script on the subject, I again heard several personal accounts of those horrifying times and lost my sleep for days thinking about the way people faced it at both the sides, witnessing family members being killed right in front of their eyes. Had earlier read MANTO and many other renowned progressive writers of those times giving an unbiased account of the tragedy, but was literally shocked knowing much more studying the real interviews and first-hand accounts of victims during our research work.
Believe me, though in BHARAT you do get to feel the emotions in its specific section on the subject, the depiction is too subtle and highly toned down in comparison to the actual dreadful happenings and mass killings. Honestly, I still get disturbed reading more about those months of 1947.
Unfortunately the new generation just remembers it as a major chapter of our history and we don’t seem to be learning the essential lessons from those times even in the present second decade of the new millennium.
Anyway, overall BHARAT is certainly going to receive mixed reactions as it will more appeal to the die-hard fans and to the viewers who easily get emotional while watching a film, especially recalling the dark memories of our partition. Yes, the film falters at many points taking loads of cinematic liberties including forced humour, but it does successfully establish an emotional connect, that happens to be its key feature above everything else. 
In addition, this is yet another attempt where the icon willfully tries to present something different, duly accepting his age and the changing scenario. The same is being tried by Shah Rukh Khan too on the other end making efforts in finding new subjects in order to break the set patterns. 
However it will certainly take some time till the transition gets conveyed through a finely balanced content based film moving ahead of playing safe and adding all the Bollywood clichés just for the sake of it. It took Amitabh Bachchan almost a decade to get back on track facing the middle-age dilemma. Hope the Khans get over it much sooner in the near future.
Rating : 2.5 + 0.5 / 5 (With the additional 0.5 for Sunil Grover, Satish Kaushik, Jackie Shroff, Tabu and the Two Kids together for their valuable support)

Note 1: Interestingly BHARAT also strongly reminds you of another of Amitabh's film KALA PATTHAR, forcing you to think that an underground coal/petroleum mine sequence can be filmed today with a big help coming from the VFX department.

But just imagine how Yash Chopra and his team would have filmed a similar one in KALA PATTHAR in the late 70s with all that water and no such VFX around.

Note 2: If you are a cinema loving parent then do take your kids to a single screen theater once to experience the ambience of a housefull show of the first day of a new release of an icon (preferably of Salman as he gets the maximum cheers and noise).

Otherwise, the experience will only be found in books written on cinema soon in the next few years.


Tags : BHARAT Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Review of New Hindi Films by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Inspired Hindi films from Korean Cinema, Official Hindi Remakes of Korean films, Salman Khan at the boxoffice.
05 Jun 2019 / Comment ( 0 )
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