26 June 2017 | nairtejas
Better Switch Off This Light. ♦ Grade F
Kabir Khan's films are always based on magnification of a small idea that looks good on theory, but becomes preposterous on reel. His latest Bollywood feature drama is the newest example.
Laxman (Salman Khan) is a dim-witted young man who lives with his younger brother Bharat (Sohail Khan) in a small North Indian town. He is called "tubelight" by his fellow town-dwellers because of his doltish nature and his inability to muster general things at the usual human pace. Bharat knows that his brother needs his support to survive, but still enlists himself for the army. With no one else to go to, Laxman now finds solace in a young boy named Guo (Matin Rey Tangu) who everybody misguidedly thinks hails from China, a neighboring country which India is currently at war with.
Director Khan, along with co-writer Parveez Sheikh, narrate a straightforward story here and try to exaggerate it beyond limits. The basic idea that they try to convey is about Laxman's undying love for his brother and his unabashed faith in this love that will possibly help his brother come back hale and hearty post the war. As stated earlier, while that story looks good on paper, watching the Khan brothers enact it with a couple of supporting actors (albeit talented) is real pain. Mostly because the whole drama is highfalutin nonsense that does not induce any kind of emotion, let alone tears. An added dash of ambiguous magical realism does not help either, as one will find out if one manages to finish watching the film.
Although, the film is too politically correct to not appeal to the average Indian audience. Of course, it may not matter to the international crowd, but when the makers inculcate thoughts of patriotism (nationalism, if I may) into the dialogues, one knows what the story is trying to achieve, and thus pay attention. One could look at this film as a message to the several unpatriotic citizens of India who should sign up for the army and look for Laxman's prayers to stay alive. Utter nonsense! Forget what's in the epitaph and hail the country!
At the end, however, one realizes that all that Laxman did was fool around with his new friend and his friend's mother. For an average film-goer, the experience would be foggy, unsatisfying, and deeply disappointing because of factors that are not only related to a poor script. The quality of acting is not that great either. Watching Salman Khan wince as he tries to act like a half-witted grown-up is cringe-worthy. The popular notion that he cannot act might finally be becoming more apparent. His brother Sohail has a small yet pivotal role, and he too seems over-occupied. Supporting actors Om Puri, Zeeshan Ayyub, Zhu Zhu, Tangu, and Brijendra Kala put up a better show.
The score is ambient, but the songs did add to the stupidity of the entire 2-hour long show. I am personally not against songs in Bollywood films, but when they are unnecessary, it's better to leave them out. Some exciting shots of northern locales of India, but other than that, it's just Salman and his borderline mockery.
Overall, there are far too many negatives in this film, which is a remake of a 2015 Mexican film called Little Boy. Even if you are optimistic about the Kabir-Salman duo or are a fan of any of the actors, skipping it would be in the best of your interests. Do not even watch the original.
BOTTOM LINE: Kabir Khan's "Tubelight" must be an ambitious project, considering that it released during a big festival time in India, but as standalone cinema it does not hold any ground. You might as well switch off this tube light.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES