Tubelight Movie Review

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Our Rating

Eid isn’t Eid if you don’t have a Salman Khan film to gush over. Since back in 2009, it is fully accepted in the industry that Salman owns Eid. Indian and world audiences have loved him over and again. Whether it was the remake of a Telugu film Pokiri in Wanted, the romantic spy action of Ek Tha Tiger or the cross-border comedy that was Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Salman has firmly settled himself as the man for Eid in Bollywood. Last year was no different with the blockbuster Sultan. From all indications however, this year will be different. Even though Kabir Khan is helming the megaphone again, this film is different to anything that has come before from Salman or Bollywood. For the first time, we are going to look at war from the perspective of the soldiers’ families.

Kya tumhe yakeen hai?” From the poster, we have the immediate feel of change. For years we have seen Salman strut the poses of self-confidence as Kick, Bodyguard and Sultan but Tubelight… Tubelight is the man-child who never grew up. Nevertheless, with the story revolving around the Sino-Indian War of 1962, Laxman Singh Bisht (aka Tubelight) is forced to realise the world he lives in and stand up to fight… for himself and others. In his small border community where everyone either yells “Tubelight jal jao!” or looks out for him, he finds great strength in this single line “Kya tumhe yakeen hai?” and in doing so grows both as a person and as a character within that community. On the other side of the war is Bharat, played well by Sohail Khan, Laxman’s brother. A gentle yet brave boy who stands up for his brother when the others bully him, with the ability to throw down the stumps whenever he is called upon by Laxman to do so. Both brothers feel the impact of war but only Bharat finds his way to the front line. The effect on both is to be seen on screen.

Kabir Khan and Parveez Shaika have taken inspiration from the American film Little Boy for the script. They make a compelling case for us not just to remember those who go to war for their nation but also their families. The loved ones left to worry for the people who protect our way of life by going to the front lines. Like them, Tubelight must show not just maturity in waiting for his brother to return but also the inner strength to stand up for what is right, even when that is against his own. A lesser trodden path when it comes to the tale. Yet the impact is diluted as the script itself gets a bit long winded.

Salman Khan has always been adorable with his brothers on screen. Sohail steps into a fun but grounded role and is compelling on the battlefields. But while he is away, it is the late Om Puri and Yashpal Sharma that provide the guided support Tubelight needs. With Gandhi’s teachings on one side and a firm yet patient explanation of life and war on the other, both actors are key to the film. Both show human emotions and steely resolve, despite their differences. Isha Talwar brief role fills in the gaps but isn’t without merit. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub performance is getting a little monotonous with the brash bumpkin characters. However, when seen in perspective of the community, he is the epitome of the devil the lurks within us and society. His target? Li Leing and her son Gu Won, played by Zhu Zhu and the adorable Matin Rey Tangu. After Harshali Malhotra, Matin is Salman Khan cutie pie co-star set to steal your heart. Between him and Sallu Miyaan, you get a few light-hearted moments during the tense timeframe.

The portrayal of all this is crisp and scenic at the epic foothills of the Himalayas that can only be found in Ladakh and Kashmir. Dirt roads are mixed with snow-capped mountains in a seamless blending of colours. A reminder to all that beauty resides wherever you are and whatever your situation. However, nothing is overdone so that we aren’t getting the touristy feel. Kudos to Aseem Mishra for setting 1962 Jagatpur up so well. Rameshwar S Bhagat snips it all into place, even though the montages took more out of us than necessary.

Officially, the soundtrack written by Pritam has 10 songs but only 3 songs really stand out in the whole film. The intro which begins with the uplifting song ‘Naach Meri Jaan’ from which we are asked to “Come celebrate Bhaihood” by letting go all the “Quintu, parantu”. Then there is ‘Radio’ which celebrates the end of the war. Beautifully shot with the community releasing all the fears and anger to come together for the moment of joy that all will be well again. And finally, the emotionally on point Main Agar where we are told that even the stars can’t match the light that has been lost in that moment. It’s been a while since despair in song has been this soothing.

Where this falls however is the same place we began. The script and music can be good and the actors all played their parts well but this story drags out the emotion quotient and seriousness. Understanding the movie is attempting to understand the sacrifice and the pain of the families of our soldiers but the potency of the sorrow is so strong, it becomes hard to swallow. Yes, there is semi-happy ending. However, the overriding feeling left behind by the film is one of sadness/pity for those who end up in these situations.

Our Rating

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