Bharat Story: A little boy who is forced to be responsible early on, grows up with no regret of a non- existent childhood. He in fact makes it his life goal to put his family before him. The film follows the journey of Bharat (Salman Khan) over the course of several decades as he navigates the ups and downs of life.
Bharat Review: An official adaptation of South Korean drama Ode to my Father (2014), Bharat focuses on the personal and professional choices of its righteous hero, set against the social backdrop of its time.
Separated from his father and sister during the Indo-Pak partition in 1947 as a child, Bharat decides to dedicate his entire life to keeping the promise he’d made to his missing father. He takes it upon himself as the eldest son of the house to look after his mother and siblings, hoping their family would reunite some day. From 1947 to 2010, the narrative traverses a period of over six decades. You see Bharat jumping risky odd jobs to make ends meet.
He even falls in love with the feisty Kumud (Katrina Kaif), who is brave and honest enough to make the first move on him. “I love you. Shaadi ki umra ho gayi hai meri. Tumse shaadi karna chahti hoon,” she says without batting an eye. She proposes marriage without fearing rejection. “I do and say what I think is right,” she adds and doesn’t mind teasing Salman, “Tum thodey self-obsessed nahi ho?” She was impressive even in Zero and Bharat is Katrina’s best acting part till date. Her chemistry with Salman feels natural and she does a good job at portraying a woman who is self assured without being cocky. She is equal, even superior to her man and Ali Abbas Zafar makes no bones about it. Her hair is a different story though. The grey streaks are inconsistent as her character ages and the unruly curls feel unnecessary.
What also stands out in Ali’s writing is how he places Sunil Grover’s character as Vilayati, Bharat’s best friend and confidante. Our best friends are our soulmates, constant companions and it reflects here beautifully. Grover does compete justice to his well-written role and deserves more such significant parts. Sonali Kulkarni and Jackie Shroff are terrific as always.
Interestingly, there’s a hidden Sooraj Barjatya in Salman Khan, somewhere. In times of the ‘hookup culture’ being glorified in movies and web shows, his films with old school values often aim to get the families together and that stands out. He acts well and looks good. Salman’s extreme closeness to his real family (parents and siblings), makes him ideal to play Bharat as he embodies his character’s traits, thus making it more convincing.
Ali on the contrary, plays a balancing act. He infuses emotions with ample fun Salman elements that will get his diehard fans to whistle. He mounts the meandering story in an unhurried manner on a huge canvas. While he manages to keep you hooked despite his complex source material and misplaced songs, Bharat has too many things happening at once and too many time leaps. This eventually makes the movie an exhausting, scattered watch despite the entertainment, humour and nobility it propagates.
Also, the ‘intention to inspire’ is a bit in your face. While emotional manipulation happens in every film, the fact that it’s evident here makes it a tad overbearing. The reverence is blatant. A little subtlety and crisp editing would have done wonders.
Bharat is well-intentioned, entertaining and doesn’t succumb to the trappings of commercial potboilers. The fact that it tries a bit too hard to prove that is its problem.