Kabir Khan like Suraj Barjatya raises hugely the expectations, specially from the Salman Khan fans. The twosome- Kabir Khan and Salman Khan - gave us the well executed Ek Tha Tiger and warmth-radiating Bhajrangi Bhaijan. This time a moron replaces the Tiger and the Bhaijan. The combo in the pre-Eid Friday release sticks out like a sore thumb not only in the context of their earlier togetherness but even from an ordinary standpoint of viewer expectations.
Having raised the bar with a story about an adult and his relationship with a charming child (Bhajrangi Bhaijan) this outing of a child-man with a child falls flat in scenic Shimla setting.
Siblings Lakshman and Bharat grow up in a hill town called Jagatpur near Shimla. The younger one, Bharat, (Sohail Khan) is the smarter of the two. The story deals with elder brother Lakshman (Salman Khan) who is a child man - man in body and child at heart. Kabir fails in navigating this seeming contradiction by projecting the protagonist as one closer to a moron than to a simple naïve adult. He is a far cry from the brilliant protagonist in Swati Mutyam (Kamal Haasan) and also far away from Anil Kapoor in the Hindi Version. The town is a victim and a witness to the 1962 Chinese aggression. A film based on war necessarily evokes the patriotic fervour. Not necessarily chest-thumping but always emotion-sucking. This time that part off the shelf is virtually barren. Soldiers on both sides are cardboard structures and not impact-making patriots. The script therefore reduces the backdrop of war to a near screenshot rather than roots for the story.
While bro Bharat gets recruited into a Short Service Commission, Lakshman stays back at home. Even as India is engaged in war, a mother Liling (Zhuzhu) and son Guo (Malin) of Chinese origin arrive in the town. Lakshman is under the tuitilage of local Gandhian Bane chacha (Om Puri). While the people in the town are not willing to accept the new arrivals, our childman, who knows no politics and thus entertains no malice, establishes a warm relationship with them. As a result, he invites the ire of the locals. The fires are constantly fanned by Narayan (Md. Zeeshan) and the town is up in arms against the new arrivals and by default against Lakshman too. A tiring 2+hours meandering would sought out the Indo-China war and erase the artificial barriers of National Geography.
The film fails to evoke any sentiment save boredom. Salman Khan completely misconstrues the chemistry of his character. An awkward physical gait is a poor alternative to the child-man syndrome. He was largely responsible for the success that made Bhajrangi Bhaijan. Along with that bouquet, he will carry the brickbats of this outing. I am afraid Kabir Khan cannot also be absolved for giving us a non-starter Salman-starrer. This Tube Light flickers for too long.