Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijaan - Movie Review

That's three movies in a row. This time at Prasad's. I was all set to cry buckets going by some reviews I heard but luckily my easily provoked tear ducts held out. The movie panned out easily, just avoiding stages where it could have got boring, and also just about avoiding stages where it could have sealed glory. The movie stays in safe space (Kabir Khan' signature style) and still does enough, thanks to a nice story to which the director stays faithful and the cuteness of young Munni, the mute Pakistani girl who gets left behind in India after a visit to Hazrat Nizamuddin. A six year old mute girl, sweetness and smiles, and all alone in a strange, enemy land, is the height of vulnerability. Add to the fact that she has no one to claim or save her. Save Bjarangi Bhaijaan of course.

Salman Khan stays away from heorics and lets the story lead. He lets Harshaali Malhotra take over with her fantastic expressions and easy camera presence. As the journey progresses he allows others their share of heroics - and in the process becomes an even bigger hero. Originally Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi, Bajrangi is brought up as a hard core Hindu, leaning towards the right. But Pavan is naive and innocent, believes in the ideal and has immense faith in his god. So much so that he thinks nothing of going into Pakistan without a passport or visa, nothing but his goodness that says that he must return the angelic young child to her parents and that his god will protect him from harm. God appears in many forms in the journey - the chap who smuggles him across the border, the border force captain from Pakistan who lets him off, the journalist Chand Nawaz, the maulana, the intelligence chaps, the army officials and even the public that turns up in large numbers. God also tests his faith many times.

Bajrangi is not Mr. Hero nor does he have any pretensions of it. He in fact thinks he is a failure with little scope to redeem himself. He does not think of proposing to Kareena, nor about his future - he is happy praying to Lord Hanuman in all forms. The one thing in his favor is his determination to end things (as he does with his studies which take many years) and his simple minded commitment to the good, ideal life as he was taught.

Salman is perfect as the restrained and naive Bajrangi bhaijaan. Nawazuddin Siddiqui gives his role the intensity it needs. Kareena is completely wasted and does not do much with whatever little she has. There was a moment when she tells Bajrangi that whatever happens she will marry him - which fell flat for me. It could have been a 'moment'. But what took the movie to its heights despite all this flatness was the performance of Munni alias Shahida. Six year old Harshaali Malhotra gives a lesson in emoting effortlessly with her eyes, her whole self. She transforms herself into the little mute girl from across the border so easily and save for a moment or two of sentimentalism she needs no prop at all to convey her condition. Sensibly everyone made way for her as she leads the audience with her little finger.

Eminently watchable. Would put it in the must-watch category for Harshali's performance (from which many actors can learn I think - it's about the eyes guys). Twice? Not me.

Prasad charged me 35 bucks for parking in the open land, the highest in the twin cities. I asked the guy and he smiled broadly at being No 1 there. (Of course GVK starts at 30 and finally takes 40 bucks by the time the movie ends).

I stepped into Sangeet Sagar, my favorite music destination for many years, a place where I got most of my early music from and was deeply saddened to see the empty shelves and signs of closure. When it does, a part of my growing up days will go. Shobhs picked up two VCDs - appropriate, for old times sake - least we could do. But the stubbornness of the music inductry and the CD guys makes one wodner - in these days when it is all available on the net why do they price DVDs at 400 bucks? O music CD at 600 bucks? A lower price point would certainly make many buy.

The popcorn! For 50 bucks these guys gave nice and fresh popcorn. Not the 200 buck stale popcorn we suffered at PVR (or the one popcorn and one coke for 400 bucks I paid sometime back). And pretty much all food here is of reasonable price and more importantly, eminently edible! But then even Prasad's shows signs of decay too - the seats are worn. But the movie expeirence was good.

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