Almost a month (or a little over a month) back when I first saw the song "Selfie Le Le Re" from the movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan (the first song from the movie to be unveiled) on television, little did I know I would be watching it soon in a cinema hall. It was my 3 year old son's profound interest in the song, the movie and in Salman Khan whom he fondly calls "Le Le uncle" that made us take the decision of hitting Gopalan Cinemas on Old Madras Road, Bangalore and watch the movie, just two days after its release ... I must admit I have never seen a movie so immediately after its release and also admit that I completely enjoyed it. Bajrangi Bhaijaan came across as a pleasant surprise package, in my opinion, it is Salman Khan's best film till day.
So what makes the movie so different from other films by "Bhai" or Dabangg Khan? Primarily, there are no heavy drawn out stunt sequences, no typical Sallu shirtless acts, no flinging around a bunch of bad men in one shot, no larger than life super hero dialogues, no silly histrionics and no dance sequences in figure hugging vests in Emirates.
Salman Khan (Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi or fondly called Bajrangi in the movie) comes across as a commoner from Pratapgarh, a devout bhakth of Lord Hanuman who eventually moves to Delhi. He speaks nothing but the truth and has a heart of gold. Kareena Kapoor as Rasika completes the love angle in the movie without swaggering around, she is simple, contained in emotions and comes across elegantly without her khandani pomp.
The question why everyone wishes to take a selfie with Salman Khan in the first song of the movie "Selfie le le re" or its relevance at that juncture remains unanswered but the answer that he delivers when a stranger right after the song quizzes on what a selfie is, is fabulous. It leaves you in ripples of laughter and that's when you know that Salman Khan with his toned down machismo mannerisms can be magical and a bigger, better pleasure to watch.
One knows that Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the not the regular Salman Khan stuff from the start. A small 6 year old girl, Shahida (played by Harshali Malhotra) who cannot talk comes from Pakistan to Delhi along with her mom to offer prayers at the Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah. On her journey back home, she gets down the Samjautha Express alone at night and fails to catch it back. Left in a foreign land, separated from her mother by a few yards from the border gates, unable to convey who she is and where she is from, her tryst with Salman Khan infuses some hope. What starts as providing a safe custody temporarily for Munni (Shahida) for Pawan steadily expands to an enormous responsibility of traveling across the border to unite her with her parents which he takes up single handedly placing unquestionable faith in Lord Hanuman.
Scenes in which Munni's identity is unraveled and those while crossing the border keeps one buoyant. We would have begun to shift restlessly in our seats seeing this duo's arduous journey had it not been for Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays the role of a Pakistani scribe supporting Bajrangi on his mammoth mission. That Nawazuddin is allowed to supersede Salman at places in the second half interests the audience and sets the movie apart. All said and done, towering above all of them is Munni, the small girl conveys immensely with her eyes and expressions; her naive, sweet smile makes you melt and she manages to hold the rapt attention of her audience all through.
The director does not try hard to thrust any message through his movie but eventually makes it clear that generous acts of humanity win more hearts than adherence to pointless rituals or religious practices/customs. His tenacious efforts in shooting the movie in difficult, picturesque terrains and high altitudes deserve special mention and many rounds of applause. With a mega star on board, the director has done a commendable job by not giving in to making Munni's reunion with her parents merely a Salman Khan soliloquy.
If Pawan Kumar manages to unite the girl with her parents, if/how he safely crosses the border back to India forms the rest of the story and the climax. Unfortunately, I cannot divulge the details even if you asked me to as I had to leave the hall after two hours of watching the movie; I missed the climax. My son got sleepy and we chose not to test his patience, heeded to his request and got back home. It was his first experience in the movie hall and that he enjoyed full two hours of the picture thoroughly, remained hooked to his seat without fuss gives me utmost happiness. Take your family along (with members from all age groups) without any doubt to watch this movie, you will savor every moment!