We follow the story of Shahida, a precocious six year old mute girl from Sultanpur, Pakistan who, along with her mother, pays a visit Delhi to seek the blessings of the saint for her speech impediment. Upon their return, Shahida is left behind in India and separated from her mother who reaches Pakistan. Lost, Shahida encounters Pawan (Salman Khan), a devout Hindu and follower of the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman aka Bajrangi. Pawan takes it upon himself to return the child, who he has named Munni, to her parents. Mistaking her for a Hindu, he struggles to find her parents and eventually ends up at Dayanand’s house in Delhi, whose daughter is Rasika (Kareena Kapoor). It is during a Pakistan-India cricket match the household finds out Munni is from Pakistan.
Pawan makes it a personal choice to return Munni to Pakistan. He encounters a myriad of characters along the way, from a con man, to a brothel pimp, to human traffickers, to border police, to an imam ultimately leading him to Chand Nawab (an incredible Nawazuddin Siddiqi), a Pakistani journalist who helps Pawan and Munni in their quest to get back to Munni’s parents.
1. Salman Khan! He plays against type. He is not the silly, action man here. He is naive, a simpleton, a man of principles and Khan has captured the essence of Bajrangi Bhaijaan effectively well. We root for him, we feel for him, we want him to succeed in his mission. Khan doesn’t indulge in histrionics or cheap comedy. This is the Khan we would like to see more off: understated and human.
2. Shahida/ Munni, is played by an extremely talented child Harshali Malhotra. The fear, the tears, the joy, the confusion, the excitement are perefectly essayed by the child, who doesn’t have any speaking lines in the movie. It’s very hard to not fall in love with this child actress.
3. Nawazuddin Siddiqi, playing the journalist who sees a brilliant opportunity for a ground breaking news report, is a huge delight to watch. His comedic timings is impeccable. Infact, the second half of the movie is entirely watchable due to him.
It’s very easy to create stereotypes when dealing with movies that deal with Pakistan-India as it’s backdrop. Kabir Khan, the director, has done a wonderful job of maintaining respect and stayed away from stereotypes. As a Pakistani myself, I was ready to cringe at watching the Pakistani characters, but thankfully none of them fall into the crass stereotypes. There are good and bad people on both sides of the border, and the message of peace and brotherhood becomes an important subject matter. It is not preachy and is handled very deftly.
There are some standout scenes in the movie that will generate genuine laughs from the audience. The comedy, the drama and the emotional parts are handled very well. There is no melodrama; no nonsensical stuff, which was a relief.
Yes, the controversial Qawali (Bhar do Joli Meri) is censored in the movie. The rest of the songs were all right, and didn’t really helped the narrative. The Chicken Song and Selfie songs could have been avoided. No one will remember the songs.
The Clever Part
I couldn’t help but feel that the timing of this movie couldn’t have been more timely. Salman Khan, who is caught up in a controversial court case over a hit and run incident, is struggling to maintain his image. He was recently seen crying in the courts as he was pronounced guilty. Suddenly he became the bad boy and his image was dented. At the beginning of the movie, we see Salman Khan and his entire family wearing his trademark Being Human t-shirts. Khan’s character is one that of a helpful, principled, morally superior and decent human being. It almost felt like as somehow the public is being fed indirectly with the idea that Salman Khan is a nice human being and he is not guilty of manslaughter.
I personally really enjoyed the movie. I am not a huge Salman Khan fan, but I really enjoyed watching him in this movie (reminded me a lot of Salman Khan in Khamoshi: The Musical).
When you come out a movie to witness women (and some men) with tears in their eyes, you know deep down that this movie has done something right to evoke such tears. Bajrangi Bhaijaan was released in Pakistan over Eid (19th July 2015) and a week later is still playing to packed houses (they even have 1am and 3am shows on weekends!)
In my opinion, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is one of those movies that should be seen by everyone for it’s superb acting all round, with clean entertainment that doesn’t insult your intelligence ultimately conveying a beautiful message of peace and love between India and Pakistan.
4 out of 5