Kabir Khan’s Tubelight aims to be a sweeping saga of faith and its consequences. It is ambitious, set with the Sino-Indian war of 1962. It aims for everything – an underdog story, whose narrative is powered by Gandhigiri in the first half and a coming-of-age tale in the second. More often than not, it succeeds in being a maudlin melodrama instead.
There is too much effort spent in creating sympathy for Salman Khan’s Laxman Singh Bisht, a fully grown man with the mental faculty of a 10 year old child. His brother has gone to war, and he is told that only faith can bring him back. A lot of it at that. Once by a street magician, often by his mentor, played by Om Puri. The ending in particular is ridiculous, with Sohail Khan, the brother, being killed and resurrected at will just so that Salman can do the boo-hoos, in the hope that we do too. Height of manipulation, this.
Salman is no doubt sincere in his attempt to play this challenging role. But we have seen too many good performances before, for this to make an impression. Tom Hanks’s Forrest Gump, Sridevi in Sadma, even SRK in My Name Is Khan. To quote Kirk Lazarus – “You went full retard man, never go full retard.” Matin Rey Tangu, the child actor, is adorable to look on screen, but his role is reduced to a foil for Salman. As is most of the remaining cast. Perhaps the only grace is Om Puri’s last screen appearance. The baritone, and the fierce eyes, they will always be missed.
The production gets caught out simply because the same set is shot from the same angle all through the film – be it the village where Laxman lives, or the army camp nearby. For such a big budget extravaganza, things like these are inexcusable. They automatically belittle the scope of the film,
Faith is a powerful thing. It can – and it does, in the film – stop wars. Or start a new one. It can bring a person from dead. Or result in genocide. It can move mountains, literally. With that power, naturally, comes great responsibility. In addressing the box office requirements of a Salman Khan Eid release, Kabir Khan may have partly abstained from his responsibility as a filmmaker who speaks of making brave, honest films. Whoever said keeping the faith was easy?
Hindi, Drama, Color