Cast: Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Zhu Zhu, Matin Rey Tangu, Om Puri, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.
Director: Kabir Khan
Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
As the Bollywood tradition goes, 2017 also witnessed actor Salman Khan celebrating Eid with his fans with his latest venture ‘Tubelight’. The Salman-Kabir Khan actor-director duo famous for Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, delivered another film for ‘Bhai’ fans to enjoy during the festival.
The movie claimed to be an emotional and family watch by the star is set in the backdrop of the 1962 Indo-China war and tries to portray the consequences of war on not only the soldiers’ lives but also the lives of their loved ones who are left behind waiting for their return.
Salman Khan has been trying to reinvent his image with projects like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and now Tubelight. The 51-year-old actor has attempted to venture far from his hero image to the vulnerable character of a man with the innocence and understanding of a child. The film, an official adaptation of the 2015 Hollywood film ‘Little Boy’ puts Salman in the role of a brother Lakshman, determined to bring back his younger brother Bharat, portrayed by Sohail Khan, who has gone to fight the 1962 war.
The chemistry between the Khan brothers manages to come out beautifully in some moments, but also becomes a drag many times. The awkward stance of Sohail Khan is clearly visible in the film, who doesn’t look at ease with his character. Playing a mentally-disabled character, called Tubelight by everyone around him, Salman is somewhere able to make up for his otherwise expression less face.
The makers of the film possibly tried to use the adorable child actor formula to add to the charm of the film again;eight-year-old Matin Rey Tangu failed to capture everyone’s audience unlike Harshaali who had managed to outshine even Salman in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
The scripting and camera of the film manage to win hearts to quite an extent. Scriptwriters Kabir Khan, Parveez Sheikh and Sandeep Srivastava deserve all the appreciation for the political commentary included in the film. Statements like “I don’t need a certificate to prove that I am an Indian” by Chinese actress Zhu Zhu who plays Matin’s mother clearly takes a dig at the constant certification of patriotism being awarded in our country recently. Mocking the concept of the person shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ the loudest to be the real Indian, again proves to a very smart and much needed take on the pitiable definition of nationalism gaining popularity in our nation. Lens work done by Aseem Mishra beautifully captures places like Ladakh and Manali, at the same time managing to recreate the 1960s aura.
The message of inclusiveness and Gandhian ideals and making friends with the enemy, although sounds cliché but comes out very innocently and beautifully on the screen. The acting definitely disappoints, but the script manages to save the film to some extent. The first half is far more engaging as the second becomes a bit of a drag. The female actors in the film aren’t able to leave their impact, while the supporting cast including Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Narayan and Yashpal Sharma as Major Tokas manage to do justice to their parts.
The cameo of Shah Rukh Khan comes out as a surprise but doesn’t really impress. The music of the film is way too loud, the songs are shot very well and manage to convey the emotions of the moments, but the makers could have possibly toned the sound a bit down as it unnecessarily overshadows the film.
The film being the late veteran Om Puri’s last, stars him in a fatherly role and plays out as a poetic eulogy to the legend.
The symbolism in some of the scenes such as the one where Lakshman spreads Bharat’s ashes in the river with the latter’s soul running forward and mixing with the ashes comes out very strongly and conveys the emotions spot on. Although the scene is a copied one, it still plays out strikingly and creates a mark on the audience’s minds and hearts.
Overall, the simplicity in the approach and the attempt by Salman Khan to depict the naivety works out to some extent, although the scope of improvement is very much there. It might have been interesting if more emphasis could have been on child actor, still the film passes on as a one-time watch