If one determines the entertainment quotient of a film from the number of times people clap while watching it then Salman Khan films will always rank higher. In the case of Kabir Khan's latest feature, the hall was deafening with rounds and rounds of sweeping applause, whistles, and general madness.
Starting with reciting a warm story about a mute, Pakistani girl who gets lost on her ambitious visit to India, Bajrangi Bhaijaan focuses mainly on her adventurous trip back to her homeland that is piloted by a savagely honest young man named Bajrangi (Khan) who lives and dies by the name and values of Lord Hanuman. The narration is absolutely endearing as the protagonists take us on an emotional drive to the maximum effect that results in all of us shedding tears and creating an ocean.
Somewhere in the film, a flaw or two with the plot does chafe the credibility from the setup, but it is all taken care with the introduction of a new character (Siddiqui) who is charmingly funny and really adds to the fun factor to the rest of the film. A tiny romance sub-story which reminds you of Khan's Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya (1991), Khan's religious innuendos which reminds you of a recent another Khan film (2014), and most of the songs picturized with ugly choreography are some elements that may force the viewer to turn his head.
The humor is brilliant. Just brilliant. Because at times you will find yourself in stitches, and it all comes out as situational; nothing forced. The film also addresses the enmity between India and Pakistan and does it rather graciously. It tries to add sentimentality into the situation and highly succeeds in it, giving form to a drama that starts and ends like a tearjerker. The climax is pure melodrama and realists may want to debate on it, but that is why it is being termed a true Bollywood film, which is actually not a bad thing at all, given the list of mindless potboilers that we see every week.
The little girl is just fantastic, and competes greatly with her senior co-actors. Khan's character and his portrayal are the best things that he has delivered in years, mostly because it suits him. Kicking goons high up in the air at the speed of light and asking people to form a chain of Good Samaritanship is not really enticing nor is it considered wow anymore. So when Khan dons the cap of a seemingly believable character, claps are sure to resonate.
BOTTOM LINE: Bajrangi Bhaijaan is faithful to the idea of Bollywood, which means that it has emotions, it has colors, and it has drama all in the right proportions. Adding to that, when was the last time you watched a Salman Khan film and felt good about it?
VERDICT: 7 stars out of 10. Sit back and shed a tear.