Bajrangi Bhaijaan—A Comment


Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the best-Bhai vehicle ever but that’s like saying that the seventeen Venkatesh Prasad scored in Cuttack was his best batting performance. It’s not a high bar.

The cinematic quality is of course not really what held me in awe.

It was something else.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a stupendous exercise of image-engineering,one from which everyone, from PR gurus to husbands who have been caught sexting by their wives may draw lessons.

Bhai is a golden-hearted Hindu fundamentalist, the kind of half-man half-child that Aamir Khan plays in every film (no wonder he carried a towel to cry in, this should have been him), someone who never lies no matter what the consequences, so pure that he makes Yudhishtir look like Suresh Kalmadi. This portrayal of an orthodox Hindu as a saint, novel as it is in the annals of mainstream Hindi moviedom, is a marvelous way to placate the group that has traditionally not been his hottest demographic, and this is not just because he needs their business.

No that’s not the main reason.

Now usually a Salman film is a storyless montage of  the man bashing baddies up, ripping off his shirt, playing bongo on female bottoms, brashly justifying his “character dheela”-ness, smiling rakishly at the camera, swinging women onto his muscled shoulders, unleashing neanderthalisms like “Tu ladki ke peeche bhagega, ladki paise ke peeche bhagegi … tu paise ke peeche bhagega, ladki tere peeche bhagegi” of the kind that make his fans in their front-stalls, chest-thump, whoop and clap, “Kya dialogue boss, mard hai sala mard hai yeh banda”.

Admiration and lust though it may engender, it does not gain the man much sympathy.

Though right now, that’s what he needs.

Sympathy. And good will.

In that Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a success that numbers like five hundred crores or seven hundred crores cannot really capture. Kabir Khan is such a consummate artist that when at the end, Salman Khan, bearded, broken and bleeding, like a Christ descended from the cross, without once even lifting his finger against the sinners who torture him like Roman legionnaires of yore, walks across the border, the cocky swagger that is so Bhai soaked away to be replaced by a Gandhian aura of marytrdom, the lines between the projected image of the actor and the perceived image of the character is finally blurred, and you leap out of your seats,  and scream in unison…

The driver did it.




29 thoughts on “Bajrangi Bhaijaan—A Comment

  1. First. A black buck please. Brilliant post BTW.

  2. Second. This one is one of your better posts, a bit short though. Rightly said this movie is a actually a giant exercise in PR just to prove humanity of bhai.
    Of Course the driver did it.

  3. Hmm so the court gives its verdict in May and within couple of months, they come up with a script, complete the shooting and release the movie in order to gain public sympathy. Wow, these Bollywood guys are fast!

    1. You may know that the case has been going on for some time and the verdict was expected. Also you may not know that bhai does not work from a bound script

      1. I knew it was a 13-year old case, so was wondering why did he suddenly feel the need for public sympathy in the last one year or so. But looks like the case got reopened in 2013, so that lends some credence to this theory. I stand corrected.
        Anyway, if an attempt to gain public sympathy results in such a wonderful movie, I hope more actors go for it.

    2. It’s been a progression, from robin hood Pande, to jai ho, kick, now this.

  4. “This portrayal of an orthodox Hindu as a saint, novel as it is in the annals of mainstream Hindi moviedom.”

    Bang on target.

    In the 70s the saints were blind old guys who said – “itna sannata kyu hai bhai…”

    Smugglers had names like Narang,Ranjeet,etc.

  5. Nicely written post as usual, Greatbong. Disagree with attributed intelligence of “such a consummate artist” Kabir Khan, looking at his previous films Kabul Express, New York and Ek Tha Tiger.

  6. I read somewhere that Amir Khan was the first for the movie. Apparently had liked script, but could give dates to his 1 movie at a time funda.

  7. Bangistan is banned in pakistan, UAE ..

  8. Well nuanced and a welcome change from all the other gushing reviews. It was definitely a PR exercise.
    Reminded me of the time when Sanjay Dutt was in jail, the reason he gave for keeping AK-47 was, ‘I am half-Muslim and had to revenge the 92 riots’…
    However when he got bail, there was a big red tikka and he directly went to meet Bal Thackeray.. .before anyone else. There was a complete image transformation from a wayward Man-child to a devout Hindu.

  9. One word. O. U. T. S. T. A. N. D. I. N. G.

  10. Yes, the drive did it. Why don’t you see the goodness of his heart? One of my ‘friends’ said “we, hard working Indians deserve a Salman Khan movie during the weekend.” They deserve whatever else Bhai brings with him as well, may that be his car or his gun.

  11. Touche!

  12. What a great review… bang on target. The sad part is that a lot of our people will actually get carried away and sympathise with salman (no wonder that the congress has for such a long time gotten away with blatant minority appeasement).

  13. Bhai ka naam pe kuchh bola to black buck ka halot ho jayega. Apun ka bhai. Balle balle.
    Of course the driver did it.
    Thank you for this one. Enough of BS. Seems a repeat of Sanju baba – Munnabhai episode.

  14. As usual …awesome review….but missing some of your trademark humor in this one….

  15. I enjoyed the movie very much. Why did you compare it with 17 of venkatesh prasad? Was the movie by itself (leave aside your investigative excellence and science of deduction for a while) not good enough? I found the humour quite brilliant and have been recommending the movie to all my friends and family who care to listen.

  16. Shobha De wrote something to this effect in her TOI article…now whilst the premise of your post may be correct – that the movie is a giant PR vehicle..I think that the concept remained the same but the story has changed a significant bit in the last few months before release – I think the heroism of Salman was changed to potray a more innocent martyr in line with the public sympathy seeking theory. Therefore in a nutshell don’t think that the entire movie was meant to be like this Gandhian monument but ultimately turned out to be in the way it did! It certainly helped the box office and hey don’t forget – the driver did it!

  17. Bhajrangi is Diamond of Strength, Krishna is Carbon of Love.

  18. Why blame the driver? It was the guys on footpath who asked for it.

  19. Bairagi Bhaijan August 16, 2015 — 4:25 pm

    Usually a Salman film is a storyless montage of the man “…playing bongo on female bottoms”.


  20. film is so bad

  21. Great post. Agree, its a short one. Would have loved it if the most recent post stuck to Rahul Roy for a while longer.
    I know your policy on posting links, but this is slightly relevant, hope you agree and like it:

  22. thank u salman Bhai for giving this movie among us….we live u..

  23. One of your best ever. Think the likes of AIB & TVF should hire you for their scripts.

  24. bajrani bhai jaan return shoud be come back & salman khan ko taaro kay nichay say nahi balki passport kay through pakistan jana chaiye munni say milnay kay liy.

  25. my 7 yr old son cried watching this film.

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