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Tubelight  : Flickers Off & On
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Friday, June 23, 2017
Comedy
Kabir Khan
Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Matin Rey Tangu, Zhu Zhu, Mohammed Zeeshan

I wondered why Salman Khan would want to adapt Little Boy, a film that was panned by critics and lost money at the box-office in 2015. After watching Tubelight, the question remains.

 

The Salman-Kabir Khan combination that last came up with a superior product in Bajrangi Bhaijaan goes back to our mountainous border once again but gets lost in sterile Hindi-Chini bhai bhai preaching. Kabir Khan creates a small town where warm, brotherly bonds between mentally challenged Laxman and his younger brother Bharat are established early. With a well-picturised ‘Naach meri jaan’ number on both brothers, this is perhaps the only relationship that rings true as an army major soon arrives toinspire youngsters to join the Indian Army. It’s 1962 and India is at war with Chinawhile Kabir Khan’s screenplay goes to war with logic.

 

Bharat gets enlisted and Laxman who’s left behind is so inspired by Gandhiji that the screenplay turns into a sermon on befriending your enemy and on self-belief, truthfulness and fearlessness. Even Shah Rukh Khan’s charisma doesn’t add pep as the lessons in self-belief continue instead of Kabir creating a magical moment with both Khans together.

 

For Laxman to follow Gandhiji’s love-thy-enemy principle, a Chinese mother and son are eased into the story. They not only speak Hindi, they’re dil se Hindustani too, and they move around with impunity. But one lone resident called Narayan hates them and the omnipresent army has no interaction with them while only Laxman forges a deep bond with mother and son.The rest of the town plays hot and cold with them according to convenience.

 

The cuteness of the child artiste in Bajrangi Bhaijaan is missed this time around and for that it’s not young actor Matin Rey who’s at fault but the screenplay’s inability to strike an emotional chord at any time.

 

Kabir Khan tries hard to arouse sentiments with enforced scenes like the army major, who’s a nice soul for the rest of the film, inexplicably shouting at Laxman or dead bodies of our jawans arriving in town. There’s a painfully predictable end where Salman tries to jog Sohail’s memory which is like Kamal Haasan’s last act in the old Sridevi film Sadma.

 

Music director Pritam’s ‘Tinka Tinka’ and‘Radio’ are well-composed but the songs make the pace of the film even more lethargic. 

 

Aseem Mishra’s camerawork is acceptable but the war scenes are weak and Sohail Khan makes a well-fed Indian soldier.

 

While I would support Salman for wading into a different kind of cinema, I don’t think the Box-office Bhai’s core audience will enjoy his attempts at doing a Koi…Mil Gaya.This subject should, at best, have been made as a small budget children’s film.

 

For a film that has no romance or entertainment and relies only on listless goodness, Tubelight gets a 2.5* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Columnist, Critic & Author

 

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