Author: Dr. Mandar ---

Year: 2017
Director: Kabir Khan
Cast: Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Zhu Zhu, Matin Rey Tangu, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Om Puri

Every year, there is a Salman Khan- movie that lights up the Eid festivities and becomes a blockbuster! It has become a Bollywood tradition. Director Kabir Khan has contributed his two pennies to this tradition with Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. This year he tries to continue this Bhai-tradition with Tubelight.

The problem with any form of commercial art is to find the so-called success formula that sells. Here Kabir Khan decides that Bajrangi Bhaijaan is going to be that success formula. So he decides to replicate the template that worked there. The hero was a guileless simpleton there, so here he becomes a developmentally challenged village bumpkin. There it was 1990s Indo-Pak conflict, so now it becomes the 1962 Indo-China war. There it was a Pakistani pre-school girl wandering across the border; so here it is a Chinese pre-schooler (and his widowed mother!) coming to stay in the town. The core message there was universal brotherhood, so here it is further padded up with actual brotherly love!

On paper, it looks like a winning scheme, especially with Salman Khan’s track record. But just like mutual funds, in cinema, too, ‘Past performances are not indicative of future results’! As soon as the movie begins, it starts becoming clear that this time around, the results are going to be mediocre! First and foremost the casting- Salman and Sohail are too old to play twenty-something brothers hoping to join army. Making Salman a developmentally challenged person with an IQ/EQ of a 6 year old is another decision that falls on its face spectacularly. That decision takes away his cool star presence and natural charm in one fell swoop and turns him into someone trying too hard to be cute and funny. He ends up looking like a bad copy of Koi Mil Gaya’s Hrithik! You wait for the things to get better as the film progresses but the only things you see are saccharine-sweet sermons about Gandhiji’s teachings and how ‘Yakeen’ (Belief) can change everything and move mountains! The efforts to inject novelty by adding SRK’s cameo and throwing Marco Polo-fame actress Zhu Zhu in the mix don’t succeed and even the cute kid angle feels forced and fake. The whole China-hatred issue and using it as the springboard to preach about making your enemy your best friend simply doesn’t work because it has been presented so superciliously! There is not one sequence in this film, which strikes as fresh, original or enjoyable. The cinematography, locations and music are some of the better things in this disappointment of a movie.

This ‘Tubelight’ keeps badly flickering throughout without ever lighting up! The problem is not about it lacking the brain; it is about lacking heart, too!


1.5 stars

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