Movie Review: Tubelight

Rating: 2.5/5

OVERVIEW: Salman Khan is not an actor, he is an emotion. Until he joined hands with director Kabir Khan, who has a flair for making war films in Bollywood, the actor wasn’t really a content-driven star. Going by his recent movie choices – Sultan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Ek Tha Tiger being the most prominent – Salman Khan has managed to build an incredible imposing reputation for churning out films that are both thoughtful and engaging. Hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Salman now stands as the pinnacle of compelling acting.

Tubelight – which is an official remake of Little Boy – a nostalgic drama set against the backdrop of World War II – is about the lives of brothers Bharat Singh Bisht (Sohail Khan) and Laxman (Salman Khan) in the fictional village of Jagatpur. The first half of the film introduces the viewers to the charmingly simple and rustic life that Bharat and Laxman are happy living.
REVIEW: In a small town called Jagatpur in Kumaon, Laxman Singh Bisht (Salman Khan), a slow-witted person grows up under the able protection of his loving and caring younger brother Bharat Singh Bisht (Sohail Khan). While others tease Laxman, bully him and call him Tubelight, Bharat shuts them up and protects his brother whenever needed.Everything was going fine till suddenly a war breaks out – The Sino-Indian war of 1962. Bharat and other youngsters from the town join the Indian army and go to the front to fight. Laxman also tries to join the army but fails the physical test and hence he stays back at home. This leaves Laxman alone, who is innocent, vulnerable and unable to protect himself.

At one end, you sense the vile nature of man: A family of Chinese-origin—mother and son—feel insecure living in an Indian, Himalayan neighbourhood, even as they have nothing to do with the Army attacking India at the point. On the other end, you see the chief Indian soldier in the movie praying for the war to end, just so his troops can return, and we can go back to being normal again.Whether that’s Shah Rukh as the magician meeting Salman on screen, and stage. Or Salman’s actual brother Sohail as his sibling on screen, who goes to war. Or the late Om Puri, in perhaps his last screen appearance, as a quasi-foster parent telling Sohail, “What happens to you two, after I’m gone?”

At the centre of Tubelight’s balance sheet is Salman Khan. He is both the film’s biggest asset and its greatest liability. Salman’s acting limitations are painfully evident in this film and I kept wondering what Tubelight might have been if Lakshman had been played by Irrfan Khan or Nawazuddin Siddiqui, or even Hrithik Roshan under his father’s controlled direction.Still, contrary to likely audience expectations, this is a film rather subdued on drama, hysteria, and action, although it remains coherent, entertaining, and sincere throughout. More importantly it does not preach to the choir.
Finally This Tubelight flickers; fails to shine brightly.Much like the rest of Salman’s films, Tubelight is different. But this much-anticipated Eid release is definitely not as compelling as Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan. The film fails to leave an impact. Surely, a little more was expected from the actor-director duo who has delivered a film like Bajrangi Bhaijaan in the past! 2 stars for this.

—Panchajanya