As Laxman Singh Bisht, the elder, cognitively impaired brother of Bharat Singh Bisht (Sohail Khan, Salman's real-life brother), Salman Khan experiences all the emotions,uncertainties, and prejudices of watching a loved one go off to war.
Here are 5 reasons to see Tubelight.
First and foremost, this is a story about brothers. Unlike many Bollywood films, there is no female love interest that distracts Laxman from his faith in and devotion to his younger brother Bharat.
The two are inseparable until they decide to enlist in the Indian Army in the lead up to the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Laxman is rejected from military service while Bharat becomes a soldier and goes off to war. The brothers part ways for the first time in their lives. While Bharat faces the dangers of combat, the lone Laxman must face a community that has nicknamed him "tubelight" for being mentally slow.
Laxman's love for his brother provides him with a strong foundation so when the idea that his brother may not return from the war alive, he is devastated. There is one scene in particular that stands out. When Laxman finds himself at the local garrison surrounded by distraught family members receiving the remains of soldiers killed in battle, he is approached by Major Rajbir Tokas (Yashpal Sharma), the senior officer. Not wanting to hear bad news, the emotional Laxman does the only thing he can think of - he holds his hands over his ears. This child-like visceral reaction to hearing the potentially catastrophic news is made all the more powerful by the overwhelming grief unfolding around him.
Laxman is not a very clever man. He is simple and often time gullible. But this also makes him more open to embracing strength through belief.
As a child, he meets Mahatma Gandhi who offers encouraging words. While we only get a small portion of Gandhi's words in Tubelight, we can look to history to provide a fuller quote:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Over the years, Laxman and Bharat have adopted the phrase "Do you believe you can do it?" as their shared mantra. As a result, Laxman has developed a great belief in their ability to overcome most obstacles. When that belief is put to the test, Laxman seeks strength within himself and, with the confidence of a child eagerly learning a new game, he pushes himself further.
When Laxman discovers that a family of Chinese heritage moves into a home on the outskirts of town, he alerts the locals whose preconceived notions, enhanced by the war, threaten the new residents. Unsure of how to react to this situation, Laxman is encouraged to befriend the two outcasts.The bonds he forms with the family help him overcome his personal fears while moving the community to understand their world in a different way.
It is delightful to see Chinese actress Zhu Zhu in the role of Li Li. Not only does Zhu Zhu bring quiet dignity to the role, but her appearance in the film highlights an important foundation of our shared human nature - our ability to overcome preconception with compassion.
Newcomer Matin Rey Tangu is delightful as the young, mischievous Guo who connects with Laxman on somewhat of a peer-to-peer level.
Acting legend Om Puri's appearance in the film is at first startling for those who remember the shocking news of his sudden passing earlier this year. But we are thankful for his role in this film. His on-screen presence is as powerful as ever and his words of wisdom, delivered in that unique gravelly voice, carry even more weight and importance.
As the adopted father-figure that helped raise Laxman and Bharat when their parents died, Banne Chacha provides sage advice to the two men as they navigate an uncertain future. Laxman embraces the advice wholeheartedly, leading to some amusing scenes where Banne Chacha's philosophical guidance is acted upon literally.
After more than a decade apart, it is wonderful to see the two Khans sharing on-screen space again.
As traveling magician Goga Pasha, Shah Rukh Khan brings all the magic of his superstardom and personal compassion to the role. Add to that a delightful costume, a unique facial tattoo, and oh-that-marvelous-hair and you can understand why the only choice for this role could be SRK.
Goga Pasha sees in Laxman a unique quality. During his show he calls Laxman to the stage and, despite the jeers of the crowd who see Laxman as a slow "tubelight", encourages him to perform a magic trick. The challenge of the magic trick is whether Goga Pasha can enhance Laxman's belief in himself over what the crowd thinks of him. When Laxman is successful, he discovers a new resource within himself that he calls upon several times when other options fail him.
Tubelight is a decent family film that deals with important issues that can unite or divide us. While it may not be the biggest blockbuster film of the careers of either Salman Khan or Kabir Khan, it is definitely a film that offers important messages of hope and connection.
The following playlist features the teaser and trailer of the film Tubelight along with a bonus video.
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