Multiple introduction scenes in slow motion. Bizarre dialogues. Gravity and logic defying action sequences. Some bit of old school romance. Elaborate and colourful song and dance sequences that may nudge you to get grooving. Some amusing yet memorable hook steps. A shirtless superstar with washboard abs that can drive an entire auditorium scream with joy. This is the formulaic template of every Salman Khan film. And Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, as expected, is no different.
What will instantly grab your attention is his entry sequence. Salman enters the 70 mm screen flying that will remind you of Race 3 (2018). He flies down to the ground amid truckloads of hooting and whistling, and the next thing you know, he flashes his signature smirk and starts beating up the bad guys. Only this time, he sports long tresses. And it’s much better than his Undertaker-inspired hairstyle in Saawan The Love Season (2006). Forget anything else, you won’t be able to get over Salman’s blow dried, bouncy, voluminous and envious hair. The balayage highlights really pop every time he has his back facing the camera.
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan has all the elements that every Bollywood films made in the 1990s stood for, unapologetically. It is packed with oodles of drama, romance, comedy, action and music. What it also boasts of is the story of four orphans and how brotherhood stemming from choice eventually took precedence over blood relations. Nostalgia rides high in this film. It features the inimitable actor, late Satish Kaushik, doing what he does best. He’s funny, warm and avuncular. You cannot help but stop thinking about Tere Naam (2003) as the film also brings together Salman and Bhumika Chawla twenty whole years later. But what stays back with you are flashbacks from Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). Late singer SP Balasubrahmanyam’s voice coupled with the iconic music of Mere Rang Mein Rangne Wali playing in the background as Salman and Bhagyashree come together after 33 long years is a treat to the sore eyes. This is perhaps the best thing about Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan along with a much anticipated cameo by Ram Charan that left the audience euphoric.
Speaking of nostalgia, in January this year, Salman co-starred with Shah Rukh Khan in Pathaan and the duo performed some high-octane action sequences on a moving train that is likely to remain etched in the minds of film lovers. In a key scene in it, Deepika Padukone’s Rubina asks Shah Rukh’s Pathaan if he is a ‘Musalman’. To this, he says, ‘Pata nahi main kaun hoon…’ This idea of secularity looms large in Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan as well. Salman is referred to as ‘bhai jaan’ by everyone, even by his lady love initially. But he is also seen praying to Jesus. And time and again, he is heard saying that there is just one god looking after everyone. ‘Insaniyat mein bada dum, Vande Mataram,’ states Salman multiple times. To add to that, what helps him bond with Bhagyalaxmi are shlokas from the Bhagwat Geeta.
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan has a paper-thin plot. Salman’s bhai jaan, an orphan, plays almost a father figure to three other orphans, who he has adopted as brothers. He names them Love, Ishq and Moh, which in all probability is a nick name for Mohabbat. Bhai jaan has sacrificed his love life to take care of his brothers and deliberately stays away from any potential love interests because ‘aisa koi nahi chahiye humaare life mein jo humaare bhaiyon ka bandhan tode’. But Love, Ishq and Moh fall in love with Chahat, Sukoon and Muskaan, respectively. Enters Bhagyalaxmi Gundamaneni, an antique conservator, into their lives and bhai jaan’s single status soon changes. Together, all of them travel to Hyderabad to meet Bhagyalaxmi’s family. What disrupts this happy union is a villainous force named Nageshwar Kodhati – introduced to us as a psycho sadist - whose enmity with the Gundamanenis dates back to decades.
The rest of the story is as predictable as it can get. Needless to say, the writing is extremely lazy and the direction, uninspiring. Songs pop out of nowhere but on a serious note, some of them are quite catchy. If there’s a euphemism to Salman’s leg work in Naiyo Lagda, Balle Balle and Jee Rahe The Hum, it would be interesting. In one scene, Bhagyalaxmi asks bhai jaan about how he would react to emotions ranging from humour to anger to emphasise that South Indians are more articulate and animated than Delhi waales. And that’s when the lines between real and reel get blurred. The narrative might be predictable but Salman’s constricted expressions will keep you guessing. Whether he feels angry, sad or romantic, we don’t know. This guessing game will keep you hooked.
Much like any other film, Salman plays to the gallery in Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan too. Expressions might not be his strength but boy, does he look handsome! His onscreen dynamic and banter with Pooja Hegde’s Bhagyalaxmi makes you root for them. With several references made about his single life, bhai jaan seems to be an extension of the real life Salman Khan. On a different note, he is extremely comfortable doing action and taking on an entire gang of ‘rowdies’ single-handedly. However, the flashback scenes from Maine Pyar Kiya will make you want to pray to bring back his chocolate boy avatar. It has really been a while, isn’t it?
Venkatesh Daggubati as Annayya, a quintessential family man, is charming and charismatic. But what will make you hoot is when he brings his second avatar, Rowdy Anna, to the table. He wields the sword like a true-blue action hero and smashes all the kirkiri (recalling Rana Naidu) to a pulp. Siddharth Nigam, Jassie Gill and Raghav Juyal try their best to leave an impression but their poorly written characters deter them from exploring their true potentials. Having a carved a niche for himself in the Punjabi film industry and especially after winning hearts with his stellar act in Panga (2020), the one thing that will hear yourself say is that Jassie deserves better.
The women don’t have anything to do in the film. Pooja does offer some respite from all the blood and gore but her character doesn’t have any meat to chew. Rohini Hattangadi who plays Annayya and Bhagyalaxmi’s mother is the prototype of the Indian mother we watched on celluloid in the 1970s and the 1980s. She spends most of her time praying to god to protect her son from the goons. So, while the men are at bay protecting themselves, the women and their collective izzat, the women are busy praying. Much like Bhumika, Palak Tiwari, Shehnaaz Gill and Vinali Bhatnagar hardly have any screen time. In fact, the trio is barely given full dialogues. Every time they speak, they contribute words turn-by-turn to finish a sentence. As the wounded and blood-smeared men engage in violence, they stand as stunningly dressed silent spectators throwing anxious expressions from time to time.
When the film ends, the male actors take their turn in informing the audience that the film has indeed ended. While Salman says ‘I’m done’, others join him as they remark ‘game over’, ‘the end’ and ‘knockout’. Unsurprisingly, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan doesn’t need you to put your grey matter to use and the makers are unapologetic about that. It is simplistic and run-of-the-mill and lacks novelty and even a purpose. It is sheer fluff and an out-and-out popcorn entertainment. Keep your judgements and rationale aside and it might not disappoint you.
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