Tubelight movie review: This Salman Khan movie frustrates you with its flickering | PINKVILLA



Read what our critics have to say about Salman Khan’s much awaited movie Tubelight.

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Even the best of filmmakers have their slump moments and that is exactly what Tubelight is for Kabir Khan. The former documentary filmmaker is known to have lent to mindless mainstream fares some defining themes, and definite meaning. The critics had unanimously panned most of Salman’s pre Kabir Khan works as harebrained but then the perception changed. Primarily with Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which did the unbelievable, it made fans and viewers shed genuine tears in a typical Eid wali Bhai ki picture.

When pitted against the likes of Ready and Wanted, it was clear that Kabir was remoulding Salman’s image to that of an actor. It’s great that over the last few outings, the definition of what qualifies as a Salman Khan movie has drastically changed. With Tubelight, the intention was to recreate the magic and moolah of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The film credits Little Boy, a movie widely criticised for its overt melodrama. On the script level, Tubelight is faulty. The writing is not polished enough and clearly lacks the novelty it needed. There are exactly the same issues with this film that was with the original. You could imagine that selling soppy dramas to the Indian market is easier given the affinity for all things teary, but in too many levels this film doesn’t work. 

The oversimplistic tale of a man with special needs (Lakshman Bisht played by Salman Khan) looking for his brother stuck in war, and in turn teaching a lesson in peace, love and faith, works in parts. Of course, these are themes that are bound to strike a chord. But the incoherence of the story never quite lets the film touch you deep enough. The political backdrop is a mere setting, which frankly, could have been anything else as well. It is a surprise that Kabir keeps the politics of a story so inconsequential to his narrative. 

However, in these jingoistic times, Tubelight is a story that must be told. Despite the flawed execution and everything that goes against logic in the story, one cannot deny that the movie is made with a lot of love. There is a sensitive portrayal of war which tends to get preachy and utopian but clearly the man backing this project has unshakable faith in the power of love. The very thought of what Tubelight stands for is overwhelming. But that’s all there is to this movie – good intentions. And Salman Khan, is probably in one his most luminous onscreen avatars. He is the most indelible he has ever been, every bit raw, every bit soft and very bit so pure in his act. Designed as a film in which Salman Khan drives the narrative, this one has the full support from its leading man. He is never hitting a false note, playing Lakshman with first rate prowess. Following him shortly in the game is his young co-star Matin Rey. He and Chinese actor ZhuZhu play North Eastern mother son duo, who are widely considered as enemies by the villagers. Matin is the one who truly shines. Clearly, unassuming and categorically unaffected of the star power of his super famous co-star, his camaraderie with Salman is what is the best thing in the film. ZhuZhu despite her limited role is adequate. A special word for Om Puri, seeing whom onscreen just made us realize the gravity of his loss. 

Kabir never taps into the racism angle of the film or brings to the fore the sufferings of those with distinct mongloid features. It could be a topic relevant to this day and age, but Kabir ducks or rather meanders in his telling. The pathos of ‘chinkis’ thus doesn’t make it to the mainstream commercial flick which could’ve sparked off a relevant debate. Though the futility of war is something everyone constantly harps upon, it’s indecisive and rather underwhelming climax doesn’t quite stir. 

As a parting word, it could be Kabir’s most mediocre movie till date but when television news channels cannot stop screaming about strained relations, fuelling war from volatile situations rather than dousing them, here’s a story that must be heard. As a film it might not be an exemplary work but as a thought it dares to provoke impressionable minds to use logic rather than fall prey to warmongering. Who’s listening? 

PS – Why was Shah Rukh Khan there in the cameo? We get the point, Karan Arjun have patched up but forcing a comeback is silly. 

We rate the film a 50% on the Pinkvilla Movie Meter. 

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