Lights out for flawed drama
Salman Khan can’t save Tubelight, an overly sentimental war movie about brotherly love, writes Saeed Saeed
Tubelight Director: Kabir Khan Starring: Salman Khan, Sohail Khan and Zhu Zhu film Little Boy (starring Jakob Salvati and Emily Watson), and stumbles for the same reasons.
It is soaked in the same gooey sentimentality that plagued the American production. The film begins strongly enough by illustrating the deep bond the brothers share, but director Kabir Khan looses focus when the siblings are separated, and from then on the film jarringly flits from Bahrat’s war experiences to the small town follies faced by Laxman.
Tubelight’s intentions are also confused. While it is in essence about the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families, the film rarely delves into this topic. Instead, we follow Laxman as he meticulously completes the list of exercises Bane Chacha gives him – all in the hope that they will answer Laxman’s prayers and bring his brother back safely.
This means, for example, Laxman conquering his fear by diving from a steep mountain. Or befriending a Chinese family (a sequence featuring a classy performance by actress and singer Zhu Zhu) to learn the lesson “befriend your enemy”.
It all adds up to a script heavy on mawkish sentiment and statements (“self belief is a precious thing, but it doesn’t move mountains”) that offers little in the way of character development. This is a shame – whatever your opinion of Salman Khan’s limited acting range, there is no doubting his dedication to a role. Perhaps acknowledging that his muscular frame might detract from his character’s inherent fragility, Khan hunches his shoulders, his eyes are open wide and he always appears close to bursting into tears.
A particularly affecting scene involves a cameo from his box- office rival, Shah Rukh Khan, as a circus magician. Laxman is pulled from the audience and asked to move a bottle through sheer mental force of will, which illicits mockery from the crowd. Khan’s tender and haunted look is superb acting.
However, such flickering moments of quality are rare and fail to convince that Tubelight is anything more than low voltage fluff.
is in cinemas now