Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Tabu, Sunil Grover
A teaser of his much-awaited Bharat has now been released online. Guided by booming voiceover from the main man himself, the 86-second teaser shows but flashes of the film (quite literally flashes, the earlier portions feel like they’ve been cut by someone who blinks Way too much).
We first get glimpses of a digitally de-aged Salman as a stunt performer following which we see flashes of his life through the ages, from Naval officer to coal miner to old man, each with its own action scene or grand set piece. We also see Katrina Kaif as a government officer who, it appears, goes on to become his wife. She is joined by a wider cast which includes Jackie Shroff, Sunil Grover and Shashank Arora among others.
Ali Abbas Zafar is just weeks away from the release of his film Bharat, one of the biggest films of the year and his third collaboration with Salman Khan. We caught up with him for a freewheeling chat about (amongst other things) working with Khan, adapting a Korean film to an Indian context and his last-minute casting of Katrina Kaif.
Well into the second half of Bharat, the eponymous protagonist (Salman Khan, at his muscliest) finds himself on a merchant navy vessel. Before you can say Captain Phillips, they are attacked by Somali pirates. The crew turns on the water cannons, but nothing works. The pirates are soon on board, and they want the stuff theatre owners hope to make a lot of with an Eid-release Salman Khan starrer. Pleading doesn’t help, so Bharat does the next best thing. Learning that the pirates are Amitabh Bachchan fans, he begins to dance to a medley of Bachchan hits — and the pirates join in.
Note: Every time the term “Bharat” is used in this review, even I am not quite sure about whether I’m citing the character, the film or the country. This may work in the reader’s favour. Salman Khan fans are spoilt for choice in Bharat. At least six films spread across seven decades scuffle for space within one 167-minute narrative. Forget double roles, you get 6 Salmans for the price of one.
Early on in Bharat, Salman Khan declares in signature Salman Khan style: yeh sher buddha zaroor ho gaya hai lekin shikaar karna nahin bhoola. That line summarizes everything that’s admirable and flawed in the star’s new film. It’s admirable that Salman, who has built his colossal career largely playing a specific supersized persona, is willing to age onscreen. That our first glimpse of him is as a 70-year-old man with grey hair and furrowed brow. Director Ali Abbas Zafar pushes Salman into a new space. The director and actor, who collaborated earlier on Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai, step out on a limb but they don’t go far enough.