Well, this was agony. I saw on twitter before work that it would be coming out this morning, and then I had to wait and wait and wait until I was finally able to watch it when I got home. And now I have!
This was so much better than I was expecting! Not that I was expecting “bad”, but I was thinking more like Sultan. A good solid movie, that rides mostly on Salman’s stardom. But this looks like a legitimate good movie all around!
For one thing, the visuals! Oh my. The children watching the flickering light, the two armies running towards each other with their shadows on the ground, the village watching a newsreel with our camera coming from behind the screen, that was all amazing! I mean, just, wow! Kabir Khan has never impressed me before particular with his visuals, they weren’t bad by any means, but they weren’t jaw-dropping. This is jaw-dropping.
Also, the story! I mean, we obviously don’t know what the story is going to be. But we can see it will combine war scenes with village scenes, with possibly also something supernatural? I was assuming that “Tubelight” referred to Salman’s character being a little slow. But now I am thinking maybe it is because he is slightly simple, but also possibly slightly powerful? Kind of looks like he can cause earthquakes, and make the lights go on and off. This whole thing is so ambitious! So far from the simple “it’s about brothers!” way it was first promoted. To combine these different threads into one story.
And finally, the message. Has anyone else watched Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani? It’s a bit of early classic. And it’s based on a true story, an Indian doctor from Bombay during WWII who answered a call from Nehru for medical personnel to volunteer to help in China. He went to China at 28, just graduated from medical school. He died there 5 years later, never having been able to return home. He saved thousands of lives, and finally died of, essentially, over-work. While he China, he also married, a Chinese nurse. And had a son, named “Yinhua”, “Yin” meaning China, and “hua” meaning India.
Now, in real life, the wife and son stayed in China. But in the film version, the ending shows his widow and son arriving back in his village in India. It’s a lovely ending, seeing his family in India embracing their daughter-in-law and grandson, getting some remnant of their son back, and the daughter-in-law embracing her new Indian identity. And, I think, that is what this film might be about? The sequel as it were, what happens after this young woman and child from very far away have landed in a small village in India. And, I assume, the lesson will be that simple and good Salman is able to bond with them and see them for the humans they are, instead of just what they look like.
(Go to 9:30 to see the ending. The voice over is him telling her what she will see when he takes her back to his home town, the old station master, the tongawallah, the gate of his house, and so on. And the last line is his mother calling her “daughter-in-law”)