Salman Khan’s Eid release has now become one of the much awaited Bollywood events each year. So continuing the trend set by Sultan (2016), Bajrangi Bhaikan (2015), Kick (2014), Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Bodyguard (2011), Dabangg (2010), and Wanted (2009), Salman Khan’s INR 240 crore new venture Tubelight hit the theatres today. As the opening credits will tell you, the movie is based on the 2015 American war film by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, ‘Little Boy’.
Cast – Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Zhu Zhu, Matin Rey Tangu, Om Puri, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
- Directed by – Kabir Khan
- Produced by – Salman Khan
- Production House – Salman Khan Films, Kabir Khan Films
- Written by – Kabir Khan
- Screenplay by – Kabir Khan, Parveez Shaika,
- Dialogues by – Manurishi Chadha
- Music by – Pritam
- Background Score – Julius Packiam
- Cinematography by – Rameshwar S. Bhagat
- Duration – 2 hours 16 minutes
A Flicker of Faith
Tubelight is the story of a simpleton, Lakshman Singh Bisht (Salman Khan) who grows up in a beautiful Kumaon village. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals, Lakshman shrugs local bullies who name him Tubelight (due to his childish nature) and grows exceptionally close to his younger brother Bharat Singh Bisht (Sohail Khan). By 1962, however, Bharat is keen to join the Indian Army and serve the nation. He enlists and is sent to the war front. Lakshman is left in the company of Banney Chacha (Om Puri) who asks him to have faith and that faith can move mountains. The rest of the movie is a test of Lakshman’s faith in the face of insurmountable odds. It is also the story of an Indian woman of Chinese descent who faces persecution in the wake of this war.
Old Wine In A New Film Roll
This is Kabir Khan’s third movie with Salman Khan as the lead. Banjrangi Bhaijaan went on to capture the hearts of millions. So Kabir Khan decided that he can use the winning formula again and squeeze out one more hit out of it.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Tubelight run parallel. Substitute Pakistan with China, Munni with Ghou, and the determination to bring Munni home safely with the faith to bring his brother home and you now have unraveled Tubelight. The plot is shallow and the direction trite.
Let us start with the performance of our hero. For once we see a fully clothed Salman Khan play a vulnerable character. We wish Salman had taken up such roles (with great scope for acting) a decade ago. It may be too late to impress us now. The idea that faith can move mountains has inspired many bestselling books and blockbuster movies. Tubelight is not one among them. This Salman flick could easily have been a profound experience, a tearjerker. But Kabir Khan settles for mediocre, lukewarm comedy. Salman falls in line. Sohail comes across more as a prop than an actor.
8-year-old Matin Rey Tangu is the real hero of Tubelight. He has swag; he is a wonderful actor; he is a star to look out for. Zhu Zhu looks beautiful and at ease even when she is dancing to Radio. Once again, the director fails to add moments which will move us with the plight of an India born Chinese woman who has to flee her home in Calcutta only to face prejudice and persecution.
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Kausar Munir (Tinka Tinka)
Music – Pritam
Pritam claims that Tubelight was not an easy album to compose. We found the songs to be mediocre at best. In fact, if you haven’t heard the numbers before, Radio may be the only song you will remember.
- Singer – Kamaal Khan, Amit Mishra
- Duration – 4:49
Naach Meri Jaan
- Singers – Kamaal Khan, Nakash Aziz, Dev Negi, Tushar Joshi
- Duration – 4:47
Tinka Tinka Dil Mera
- Singer – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
- Duration – 5:02
- Singer – Atif Aslam
- Duration – 4:37
Main Agar (Film version)
- Singer – KK
- Duration – 3:28
What’s Good, What’s Bad?
The thing that is great, not merely good about Tubelight – stunning visuals, colourful vistas, and breathtaking scenes. Three cheers to the cinematography team. The supporting cast – Matin Rey Tangu, Zhu Zhu, the late Om Puri – all deliver credible performances. Shah Rukh Khan looks delightful in his cameo as a magician. He hasn’t looked this good in a while now.
None of these, however, are adequate to sustain what is essentially lack of directorial creativity.
It is not very often that Salman Khan remains fully clothed through one of his movies. It is rarer yet that he does not romance a beautiful heroine onscreen. If these reasons don’t tempt you too much, go watch Tubelight for its stunning visuals or because you don’t want to be left out when your friends discuss Zhu Zhu. If that’s not good enough either, go watch because this may be the last time you see Om Puri on screen. Do leave your expectations at home, though.
Rating – ***