If you were to put biceps on a middle-school history book, what you’d get is Salman Khan in Bharat. But don’t bother getting too creative with the imaginary book cover—Khan displays fewer expressions on his face than a blank A4 page.
Which brings us to Salman Khan’s claim that people ditch their own weddings to act in films like Bharat while Priyanka Chopra committed the heinous crime of getting married instead. Seriously, right? What woman gives up the chance to sing and dance around a man impersonating a block of wood to sing and dance with a man she actually wants to marry?
So, in the interests of adhering to the logic of Bhaizone, let’s examine how big Chopra’s loss is. In Bharat, Salman Khan plays Bharat, who fled to Delhi as a child during Partition. While fleeing Lahore, he left behind his young sister and father, played by Jackie Shroff.
After this, the film feels like being stuck on a date with a guy whose Tinder bio reads: JFK —> DL—>MUM—>LA—>HK—>two dozen airport initials that plebs have to Google. Basically, while you labour through your popcorn and patience, Bharat travels from Dubai to Somalia, saving people from gas leaks and pirates, in between making several white women dance to bhangra. And while he is at that, the film offers you Cliff Notes versions of major historical events like Partition, India winning the 1983 World Cup and the liberalisation of the economy.
Halfway through the film, you’re left wondering why you’re being subjected to a Bhai edition of the History channel—rest assured you won’t have an answer even by the time the film ends. It’s like the script had a single-line brief: Bhai ka biceps buddha nahin hona chahiye.
So stuff keeps happening, the world changes, but Khan keeps appearing in clothes that lovingly cling to his muscles. He occasionally beats people up as well. In the midst of all this, he finds Kumud, played by the ever-so-pretty Katrina Kaif. She technically holds various jobs in the film — placement consultant, project manager at an oil rig, anchor, journalist — but her primary occupation is pining for Bharat.
Kumud is basically a 24-hour nurse for Bharat’s ego. He refuses to marry her, expects her to quit her job as a news reader to run a grocery shop while he is away earning money, and take care of his mother. In what seemed like a glimmer of hope, Kaif’s character does point out how selfish all this sounds, but then quietly falls in line while fake glaring at Khan. Imagine rejecting this role to get married to the love of one’s life? The glimmering opportunity to play a designer tulsi in Khan’s silverscreen angaan? The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run down staircases in wedding lehengas and into the arms of Salman Khan, whose blank stare reminds you of people rejected by all the auto drivers at Andheri station? What were you even smoking, Priyanka? Dump it now because it has given you a bad case of clarity.
It’s kind of rude to expect Salman Khan films to be about things like fair characterisation, actual roles for women and at least 10% logic. It’s like asking Sadhvi Pragya to comment with a heart emoji on a Gandhi photo. So yeah, it was not very nice of Priyanka to have gotten a life, saved her career and produced regional films when she could have sacrificed her talents for Bharat. Who knows what she will do next? Demand that washing powder ads show men washing clothes? Nobody needs that kind of negativity, yaar.
In Bharat, Sonali Kulkarni, who has more expressions in half a second than Khan has had in the last decade, plays Bharat’s mother. Kulkarni is 44, Khan is 53. This is the world you are supposed to live in, Priyanka. Just woman up and listen to Twitter bots with Salman Khan DPs for life advice.
P.S. There are several great films on the partition of India that captures the horror and heartbreak with dignity and empathy. This a helpful list for anyone interested.