Director Kabir Khan has successfully crossed the chasm between the art house and packed houses. He had earlier helmed the docu-style Kabul Express (set in Afghanistan) and New York (set against the 9/11 backdrop) but then opted for a large canvas with two Salman Khan films – Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan – that have knocked the ball out of the park.
With Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Khan unfolded in an assured manner a buoyant saga that unfailingly tugs at the heartstrings while also making a pithy comment on India-Pakistan relations. The film is built on the tender relationship that develops between an earnest Hanuman devotee, Bajrangi (Salman Khan), and a mute six-year-old Pakistani girl (cherubic Harshaali Malhotra) stranded in India. Battling all odds and with the help of a Pakistani reporter (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), Bajrangi crosses into the Pakistani border and takes it upon himself to reunite the moppet with her mother.
Khan extracts every ounce of sentimentality inherent in the compelling story but also takes care to dry it with dollops of humour and a sanguine world view. Bajrangi finally becomes a conduit for one of the central narratives in Khan’s cinema – the plea to give peace a chance.