Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) Film Review
Kabir Khan’s latest Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan wins the hearts of many with its powerful message and strong cast. From hatred and violence between two countries, to love and acceptance, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a definite must watch for all.
Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi, a devotee of the Hanuman God lives his daily life in India worshipping his idol. Pawan, also known as Bajrangi, after failing many exams in his life, his goal is to win one, the heart of his true loves’ father. Rasika’s (Kareena Kapoort) father agrees for them to marry, yet despite their alliance, he only accepts them under one condition; Pawan must buy his own house before the marriage. With this quibble in place, a bigger dilemma arises. A young mute girl, Shahida travels with her mother across the border to Pakistan. Despite being with her mother, Shahida gets distracted and leaves the train, missing her chance to get on when it starts to move. Shahida jumps on a domestic train hoping to get to her mother, yet ends up travelling to India. As a lost girl, she acquaints with Pawan, whom she doesn’t leave the side of. After a rough couple of days, Pawan realises that this young girl is in fact Muslim and far apart from her parents. Her religion causes controversy, but Pawan does not give up. The film follows his journey in helping Shahida get her back home, even if that means crossing the border.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is merely just about returning a lost girl home; rather it’s about showing the true colours of how two countries’ hate can be blinding. Despite Bajrangi seeing beyond the hate and violence, the current struggles and segregation is so deep that this causes problems for them both. It’s almost like a battle for an Indian citizen to cross the border without being Pakistani and vice versa. Even though this partition is there, right in front of our eyes, the strict attitudes from the police comes across as shocking. Kabir Khan powerfully demonstrates a true perspective on how difficult it is to cross the border and if accomplished, then how one is neglected in the other country. The most engaging mechanism in the film is the element of hope. Bajrangi never loses hope and with his strong spirit he is thoroughly willing to get this young girl home. As the audience, we know Pawan’s motifs are genuine and that he’s not a criminal or spy trying to get into their country. Yet, the inspectors in Pakistan are too wrapped in this malicious, false storyline that they can’t see the light beyond the war. They simply don’t want to believe that this man truly wants to help a lost girl.
Salman Khan pulls off his role as Bajrangi, where his character is very likeable. Instantaneously, from the moment we see him dancing in the Hanuman parade to interacting with the young girl, we begin to like him. His funny yet harmless persona perfectly fits the role of Bajrangi, where throughout the film the essence of being truthful is carried out. Bajrangi and Munni have the sweetest connection, which naturally works and isn’t forceful. Despite Munni being mute, Pawan can understand her like no one else. Even through their travels, he almost becomes this father-like protector role, who is loving and caring. Khan also brings comedy through his role with his repetitive intro dialogues and facial expressions which are unforgettable.
Tugging at the strings of your heart is Harshaali Malhotra who plays the lost girl, Shahida or better known as Munni. Playing the role of being mute is difficult, yet Harshaali realistically pulls it off. She powerfully brings her character to life and even without speaking one word; we can hear everything she says. Her adorable appearance matches her kind persona and we nonetheless eagerly want her to find home. Harshaali’s performance is unforgettable, where her facial expressions to body language are spot on in playing out different moods and dialogues. She transforms into Shahida so effortlessly, that we don’t even notice the fact that she is mute.
Journalist Chand Nawab who we pick up on just after the intermission, adds this element of hope and friendship to Bajrangi and Munni’s journey. Nawazuddin Siddiqui wonderfully shapes Chand’s character into this selfless man who believes in Pawan and see’s the good out of the situation. The comedic elements are a brilliant addition to the story and the friendship the three of them create is magical. It supports the statement of how ‘you just need that one person to believe’ and Nawab is that believer regardless of his religion. He see’s Pawan and Munni as more than a news story yet uses that mechanism as a way to invite a audience and broadcast the truth. Siddiqui plays this gentleman character where his acts of kindness in truly going through thick and thin through their journey is applaudable.
If I was to add anything on a critical note, I believe the film could have been shorter, where a few scenes were slightly stretched out than needed. The dance songs in particular felt too frequent and often distracted us from the story. Likewise, the second half felt more faster-paced, where the first-half lost itself through the romantic flashback. I thought the ending was positive and decent, yet as much as I’d wish that would happen, it in fact was unrealistic. The cinematography was beautiful, the establishing aerial shots of Shimla and colourfulness of India was breath-taking. However, I believe the slow-motion effects were over-used and could have been less.
Overall, Kabir Khan takes you on this emotional rollercoaster and really brings together to two countries to light. The message of accepting all despite being Indian or Pakistani or any nationality is the moral of the film, where hatred becomes drowned my love and the people coming together as one. It truly shows how this segregation makes it difficult for the two countries to be friends, and it isn’t the citizens, rather the people sitting at the top of the ladder who are causing political conflict and drama. One man being on the phone, in charge of the Police ensemble decides the fate of an Indian man despite knowing the truth. It’s sickening but also an eye-opener that such cruelties exist and still happen all over the world. The strong connection between Bajrani and Munni is beautiful. They put all their differences aside and take us on a memorable adventure. Indeed they come across violence, negligence and difficult situations, yet by sticking together and mostly sticking by the truth, their quests are rewarded in the end.
My Rating: 8.5/10
Written by Meera Darji