There are quite many films which vanish from the box office without any noise. Then there are some for which you wait really long but the word on the street is against them as soon as they land. Salman Khan’s Tubelight, for me, fell under the second category. Of course it had left me intrigued ever since its trailer released. Yes, it did have a Bajrangi Bhaijaan feel from the first look but I was still curious. Then the decisive weekend arrived and within hours the critics fell heavily on this Kabir Khan directorial. ‘Weak, stretched, trying too hard, stale, over acting’ — these were some of the words which flashed in review after review. I was disappointed to the extent that by the time I finally went to watch it after two days, my excitement level was zero. But it turned out to be a completely unexpected experience. Tubelight, for me, is a fine film. Salman Khan has done well, yes I’m happy to see him emote! So why all this harshness for a movie that tried to become an Eid gift for its audience?
They say all publicity is good publicity. And all the good things were happening with Tubelight too – great promotions, Bhai-Bhai bond, an adorable child actor and the right build up ahead of its release. Then why did the words of critics broke the movie? Don’t we see that this is the same Salman, the mass entertainer, who has shed his persona, giving us a departure from his Dabangg-giri and risking a film after keeping the Eid throne in his name for years? No, he isn’t flexing his muscles, neither is he romancing his ladies or speaking some cheesy lines. He is playing a child-man, a simpleton out to find his lost brother, while unknowingly giving out a message about the futility of war.
But we have seen actors playing such challenging roles, where acting ruled over their chiseled bodies. Hrithik Roshan did it in Koi Mil Gaya, Shah Rukh Khan did it in My Name Is Khan… Then why can’t Salman? Or maybe it is because we don’t want him to break away from his larger-than-life image. Quite unfair, right?
The blockbuster duo of Salman-Kabir Khan seek the conviction of fans. And why not? They gave us two of the most commercially successful films in recent times – Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Ek Tha Tiger. So now it is the audience’s turn to give them back some love.
Agreed, Salman looked a little too beefed up at places, his age lines hampered his performance and the war scenes looked too pale, but let’s not forget that the actor has played a character role after a really long time, well, maybe more! He convinces as Tubelight right from the very go. His innocent commentary about his childhood, his love for his brother, his Gandhism, his never-say-die attitude, no his character wasn’t something as bad as was written in the initial reviews. Very silently, the film propagates the values of family and patriotism, without taking sides.
For me, Salman Khan’s close-up shots where he is laughing and crying all at the same time, were his best. His natural chemistry with Matin Rey ‘goo’ Tengu was the film’s high point and his scenes with Zhu Zhu, where he unknowingly gives her faith ‘yakeen’, are a beautiful take-away too.
All I wish is that the cinegoers gives it’s own verdict and not get carried away by what is being said. This film deserves more. Also, Salman shouldn’t get demotivated by the risk he has taken. There is still an audience which is flowing in his love and belief in the film. Critics might have affected the film’s opening week’s performance, but Eid has just passed, and it’s Eidi is yet to reflect at the box office. I urge Salman to continue doing projects which touch our hearts. For there is a section of fans, who like to see his ‘other’ side, who like to cry with him, laugh with him, who like to see beyond the Sultan or Chulbul Pandey in him. After all, we still feel the same connect with Salman, what he established with us in the 90s, don’t we?