Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan Movie Review By Anupama Chopra

Directed by Farhad Samji, this Salman Khan-starrer also has Pooja Hegde, Venkatesh Daggubati, Shehnaaz Gill and Palak Tiwari among others.
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan Movie Review By Anupama Chopra
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan Movie Review By Anupama Chopra

At one point in Kisi ka Bhai Kisi ki Jaan, Salman Khan is head butting the villain. As he hits his own head against his battered opponents, he says: Maatha phodi ka bahut shauk hai tujhe. Kya kehte hain, brainstorming. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I could feel my own brain diminishing. To be fair, this film has a more coherent narrative than Salman’s last few outings. But those were Radhe and Dabangg 3 so the bar is very low.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is a remake of the 2014 Tamil film Veeram. In Veeram, superstar Ajith plays a morally just but violent man who doesn’t pull his punches when he sees wrongdoing. Veeram combined over-the-top action with family drama – Ajith’s character has four younger brothers who embark on a mission to get him married so that they can also eventually marry their own girlfriends. Veeram is crude and cliched but Ajith, superbly stylish as a butt-kicking superhero in a veshti, makes the film somewhat tolerable.

In this film, director Farhad Samji, who has also written the dialogues - Sparsh Khetarpal and Tasha Bhambra have written the screenplay - works on the principle that more is more. He reduces the number of brothers – here there are only three whose names, and I’m not making this up, are Ishq, Moh and Love. But Farhad amplifies everything else – the fights, the songs, the posturing, the fan service. He even throws in a touch of nostalgia – at one point, Bhagyashree shows up. You recall that she was the heroine of Salman’s first super hit Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989. For a flash, you feel affection but that changes quickly when it dawns upon you that while they started together, she is now relegated to the attractive mom and aunt slot while he continues to prance with women 25 years younger like Pooja Hegde.

Farhad has spoken in interviews about how he has tried to balance Salman’s mega-stardom with the character he plays. He said that whenever you direct Salman Khan, you need to be aware that the chair you are sitting on shouldn’t be the director's chair but the seat of a cinema hall. This is a tough tight-rope walk and in the last ten years, there are only two directors who’ve managed to do it well - Kabir Khan with Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Ali Abbas Zafar with Sultan and to some extent, Tiger Zinda Hai.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan has flashes of inventiveness. There is scale, especially in the songs. Though why Salman is doing lunges as dance steps in the romantic number Naiyo Lagda is anyone’s guess. The film also has some amusing bits - in one scene, Bhagya, played by Pooja, is asking Bhaijaan - he doesn’t have any other name - to show her how he expresses anger, happiness and emotion. His expressions barely change and I wondered if this was Salman acknowledging his limited acting range. But perhaps I’m looking for meta-commentary where none exists.

Farhad attempts to give the Salman Khan persona a touch of vulnerability. There are repeated slow-motion entries and exits. In one extended action sequence, he doesn’t take his dark glasses off and there are repeated close-ups of his trademark blue stone bracelet but beyond the swagger, Bhaijaan is a softie who cries in several scenes. In one, he is playing cricket. His brothers show up teary eyed because someone has just revealed a major family secret to them. They don’t say anything. And Bhaijaan doesn’t ask what is going on. Instead, they all just hug it out and cry. It’s unintentional comedy.

As is Salman’s lustrous mane. There is some explanation given for why Bhaijaan has the hair of a shampoo model but honestly, I didn’t catch it. Anyway, this reason has zero impact on the story. For much of the first half, Salman walks around with his tresses flying in the wind. In one scene, his hair and Bhagya’s hair gets entangled. I know it’s supposed to be romantic but again, it mostly serves as unintentional comedy.

In the second half, the plot shifts from Mumbai to Hyderabad. This is announced with the line: 'Welcome to the World of South India' written on a banana leaf. So please manage your expectations on representation. Farhad tries to stay somewhat authentic – the dialogue includes snatches of Telugu and several of the actors are from the Telugu film industry – Venkatesh plays Bhagya’s elder brother and Jagapathi Babu plays a character who is described as “Hyderabad ka sabse bada gunda.’ But that’s about as rooted as this film gets.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan wants to make all the right noises. There are nods to patriotism with lines such as Iss desh mein hai bada dum, vande mataram. To gender equality – Bhagya says about her brother – he’s very women empowerment types. To inclusivity – Bhai Jaan has no name and therefore, no caste or religion. To basic decency – a character says Rowdy banne main koi fayda nahi, nuksaan hi nuksaan hai. But at every step, the narrative contradicts the film’s intentions. Before we get the moral science lesson about being good, we see countless murders. The body count of this film is high and it starts from the first few frames. And the women have little to do except look pretty and wait for the men to do the heavy lifting.

I felt especially sorry for Abhimanyu Singh, an actor who once displayed ferocious talent. Here he is a peripheral character to appears at random points to provide exposition and information. Early in the film he says: Kahan phas gaya main.

My sentiments exactly.

You can watch Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan at a theatre near you.

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