The power of Bhaijaan
A lot has been read, made, seen and shared on Indo-Pak relations. You have movies like Filmistaan and then you have Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Forget the much hyped, pre-release screenings terribly organized by the production house themselves. At the promised show time, there’s a manic mob at the entrance. Senior journalists like Rajiv Masand and Komal Nahata are stranded here too. Their struggle ends earlier than most others. The ushers are doing their job, and how! Well-dressed, decent people intently look for familiar faces on the other side of the barrier. You wonder whether you’ve been invited so they can treat you like gatecrashers. Strangely enough, no one is offended or even thinks of leaving.
This is not a review of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. This is a rambling mind which cannot fathom the power of ‘one man’. A few months back we had people lashing out at him, calling him a criminal and questioning every move he ever made. One wonders whether the same people flock to watch his latest no-brainer.
At this point, you are oblivious that you are in for a deja vu in the upcoming climax of the much-awaited blockbuster. Just that those millions of people are on the Indo-Pak border. You wonder how jobless they are when it is revealed why they’ve all gathered there. All of us, nevertheless, had a job to get done. Yes. Watch those people and then tell everyone about how we thought they were jobless.
So people find their seats and seem to have settled. I try to remember the last time I watched a movie from this close. The second-row-from-the-screen view was not that bad. Just then there is thunderous applause and piercing whistles distort my chain of thoughts. What could it be? It was – The censor certificate of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Wow!! Just the mention of this man can induce such reactions.
The set up has happened and people are silently watching. We hear, “Koi toh nek banda hoga khuda ka…” The rest of the dialogue has drowned into screams, screeches and hoots. It’s completed with a shrill “I love you Salman!’ I can’t help but look behind and feel amused. I realized I have a double dose of entertainment from the second row. I prefer looking back at the dancing crowd than bhaijaan dancing to Selfie Le Le Re. It has been playing like a screensaver on every media for a while now.
Just before the movie began, a colleague had mentioned how she wanted to watch the movie at Chandan Cinema. That’s the power of bhaijaan. He can bring out single screen audience reactions in the classiest of multiplexes.
As the movie progresses, I hear incessant awwww’s in reaction to the mute, yet adorable little girl. There is hearty laughter and guffaws at almost every line that bhaijaan utters. Their chemistry is so delightful that I begin to ignore the silly, illogical screenplay and dialogues after a point. Not that I came in with an intention to watch classic cinema but this one was epic in it’s own right.
Did I mention that Kareena Kapoor had already made her kohl-eyed entry amidst all the drooling over bhaijaan? They’ve already fallen in love quickly enough. One minute this bajrangbali ka bhakt is calling her behenji and the next they’re swaying away to Tu Chahiye. Just like many girls wouldn’t dare call Salman ‘bhai’, Kareena didn’t like him calling her behenji too. The film does a PK on religion through the innocent eyes of Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi who seems to be on the same wavelength as the alien who came to earth in the form of Aamir Khan.
We all know this girl is Muslim and Pakistani at that. Yet the audience seems to be on Pavan’s side solving this mystery, reacting to every clue just like him. That’s the power of bhaijaan. Now we’re almost half way through where people have fallen in love with Salman Khan again, this time as ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’. Ever since Wanted happened, he played Salman Khan in every film with an alter ego (the character), did some mind-bogglingly simple moves that were called dance steps there on, beat the crap out of random bad guys, laughed at his own jokes and took off his shirt as a ritual at some point in the film. Spoiler Alert – This time, he does none of these and yet there are no less cheers coming in.
You know the interval is coming up when you see that character arc peaking. The harmless, unassuming protagonist has had a sudden adrenaline rush. He has to save his munni from danger. The Hanuman Chalisa plays while he uses punches, kicks and blows for a good cause. Bhaijaan has taken a break. Let’s go use those food coupons. Salman Khan is very particular about food and ensures all his guests are well fed.
Post the interval, there’s more than one surprise in store for you. Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi manages to cross the most controversial border overnight, without a passport or visa but with some kind of permission. That’s the power of bhaijaan.
Enter the local struggling reporter of Pakistan and I find myself clapping and cheering. O My God! Have I grown up or what? I am watching audience reactions when Salman Khan is on screen and cheering out loud when Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes his not-so-in-your-face entry. He has you hooked from the time he appears doing his take on Chaand Nawab, the Pakistani reporter whose video went viral a few years ago. Nawazuddin makes you laugh even more and leaves you in awe of him as an actor. While all the other actors in this film had a miniscule part to play, this man came and stood tall with bhaijaan, almost carrying the film on his shoulders here on. That’s the power of a common man, I guess.
A good fifteen minutes of the film has Salman Khan as the burkha – clad begum and Chand Nawaz… I meant Chaand Nawaab as the ally. My judgmental side has switched off by now as I watch how well this man knows his craft. The journey drags on but Nawazuddin, munni and of course, bhaijaan help you survive. They even take you to the durgah so you can pull through for just a little bit more. A disproportionate Adnan Sami sings on ‘laut kar main na jaaunga khaali.’ The audience also doesn’t want to leave without a full dose of Salman Khan. It was a free screening. No one had paid for the tickets and yet no one dared to walk out mid-way. That’s the power of bhaijaan.
The last lap has begun and its time for munni to find her home. The police has found them but our bhaijaan has a plan to make sure munni reaches home safe. By now he is famous all over India and Pakistan, thanks to the video that Chaand Nawab has posted on the internet. Suddenly it strikes me – why didn’t he post munni’s pictures asking the family to get in touch with them? But oh! This is about the power of bhaijaan not about the power of the web.
There’s more proof of the power. Spoiler alert – in one shot, bhaijaan is shown to be shot by the police and in the next, he’s walking to the border with millions of Pakistanis. That’s when I had my déjà vu. What happens next is inexplicable euphoria in the movie and in the movie theater. I knew exactly what was going to happen but I couldn’t help but be surprised at the audience reactions. The end credits roll and I get up to leave before the rest of the crowd. I was scandalized to hear a loud ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan! Bajrangi Bhaijaan! Bajrangi Bhaijaan!!’ resounding behind me. That’s the power of bhaijaan.
I must share what I overheard while walking out with the smitten swarm. A fan, in his mid twenties, maybe, says, “There was no action in this film. Salman has acted yaar. And they say his films have no content? There was a story in this film and Salman Khan too.” Now that – is the power of Salman Khan, Bollywood ki shaan, the ultimate bhaijaan. Eid Mubarak!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this POV/BLOG are the personal opinions of the author. PANDOLIN is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing on the POV/BLOG do not reflect the views of PANDOLIN and PANDOLIN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.