Never mind which side of the divide you decide to stand, here’s one fact of life you ignore at your own peril: Never judge a Salman Khan fan when he’s rooting for the Bhai pulling off the most logic-defying stunts, and even scenes. Because, Kabir Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan is one film that will bring them to the theatres in droves and you’d do yourself a favour by keeping quiet even if you think this film is over the top. But then, chances are that you may also love it.
First things first. There is no doubting Salman’s secular credentials. He is one actor who never tires of talking about the multi-religious ethnicity of his family and he has reasons to do so. But now he has decided to extend this ideology to the themes of his films as well.
In a way, it started with Jai Ho where his crusader ‘aam aadmi’ image was built. Kick consolidated this image, and now Bajrangi Bhaijaan completes the picture. This film presents the bhai as the quintessential ‘aam aadmi’ who is forever ready to embrace religious pluralism if that is the last resort. And guess what, Salman does it in a style no one else can.
Pawan Kumar Chautrvedi (Salman) enjoys the burden of carrying the legacy of his RSS member father in Pratapgarh, UP. This is not exactly a load as Pawan grows up to be an extremely religious guy who likes to bow down to every monkey he meets. Turns out, he is least interested in studies and wrestling, two streams his father wants him to excel in. Pawan’s life is turned upside down when his father sends him away to Delhi for, what else, a job. Like it happens in every Hindi film, once in the city, he meets Rasika (Kareena) and her tough-nut father Digambar (Sharat Saxena), a devout Brahmin.
Pawan, alias Bajrangi, stays true to his religion in the big city, never missing a chance to attend anything that has Lord Hanuman’s name next to it. His pursuits lead him to Kurukshetra where he finds an abandoned child after dancing his shoes off to Selfie le le re.
Soon, we are told that this child cannot talk, is from Pakistan, and that she is stranded here in India.
Not surprisingly, Pawan takes it upon himself to reunite the child with her parents. Just that he has a set of problems that threaten to throw his mission off balance right from the word go: he has no passport, he never lies, and he is a vegetarian.
On the face of it, this is probably Salman’s most mellowed down performance in recent times: he refrains from flaunting his street fighting skills (unless he’s left with no option, that is), and he has managed to look innocent in the scenes where his character’s inner dilemma over non-vegetarian food comes out or when he finds that the lost child is actually a Muslim (Who he likes to call Mohamden similar to a large number of North Indians).