‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’ movie review: Salman Khan parodies himself in a silly action-drama

Farhad Samji’s new movie is annoying, uninspired and full of empty odes to its fading superstar

April 21, 2023 05:21 pm | Updated April 22, 2023 01:56 pm IST

Salman Khan in a still from ‘‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’

Salman Khan in a still from ‘‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’

Salman Khan proposes: Bring it on, bring it on. The audience disposes: Shut it off, shut it off. It’s become a routine. Bhai’s second-last film, Radhe (2021), was unvaryingly spoofy and dumb. Still, having released on ZEE5 during the pandemic, it gave audiences the option to skip forward or watch something else entirely. No such luxury with Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, which has opened in theatres and runs for 144 minutes. That’s 143 minutes too long for a Salman-Farhad Samji combo.

Samji does score some points with Bhai’s‘epic’ introductory scene. We see a swarm of goons pull up at a nondescript Delhi square. They are looking for Bhaijaan (Salman), protector of people, runner of gyms. As the demanded personality leaps off a terrace in slow-motion, coolly slipping into his black leather jacket mid-jump, the assembled population starts to whistle and hoot. What a smart solution, I thought, diegetically guaranteeing that if fans don’t show up in droves (as they clearly didn’t during my screening), there will be someone to welcome Salman on-screen.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan (Hindi)
Director: Farhad Samji
Cast: Salman Khan, Pooja Hegde, Venkatesh, Bhumika Chawla, Shehnaaz Gill, Jagapathi Babu, Palak Tiwari
Runtime: 144 minutes
Storyline: Delhi do-gooder Bhaijaan (Salman) must protect his loved ones under threat from a Hyderabad don

Bhaijaan, like the man playing him, is single and proud. He will neither marry nor let his three adoptive brothers — Love (Siddharth Nigam), Ishq (Raghav Juyal) and Moh (Jassie Gill) — get married. “Women ruin families,” he explains, a worldview oddly never out of place in a Bollywood ‘family entertainer’. To allay his fears, his brothers (who are secretly dating) try setting him up with Bhagyalaxmi (Pooja Hegde), their new tenant from Hyderabad. She is an antique restorer; a near-perfect professional profile for a Salman heroine.

Once they hit it off, Bhagyalaxmi narrates her backstory. Her brother, Annaya/Balakrishna (Venkatesh), detests violence and rowdyism — a dilemma for Bhaijaan, who discovers his would-be in-laws are under threat from a local don. Reaching Hyderabad with his brothers (the setting was rural Tamil Nadu in the original 2014 film Veeram), he tries brokering a truce but fails. This leads to the clumsiest stealth fight ever attempted in a Hindi film—Salman is the noisiest action star there is, and Samji’s staging and fight choreography are, well, not subtle.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan brims with the usual Salmanisms. Fans, critics and casual audiences alike are left with nothing better to do than join the dots to his past films. Bhaijaan becomes a kind of ‘Bodyguard’ to Annaya. There is a child named ‘Munni’, as in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Bhagyashree, Salman’s heroine from Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), and Bhumika Chawla, his co-star from Tere Naam (2003), get unflattering cameos. The joke is that these once-famous actresses are now married, settled women while Bhai, at 57, is roaming free. His prolonged bachelorhood is a boast, their presumed domesticity a pity.

The performances are defiantly, doggedly below par. Salman doesn’t even try. In most scenes, he is either smiling sheepishly or frowning quizzically. The one self-aware pantomime he does of his limited acting skills is more entertaining than anything else in the movie. Pooja Hegde, tasked with romancing a man 25 years her senior, finds comedy in her predicament. Her Bhagyalaxmi is frequently charming and funny, parodying Bhaijaan when he isn’t doing the honours himself.

We get an extended fight sequence in a Delhi metro. With the memory of Pathaan’s iconic train scene still fresh, this looks like a downgrade. The detour to Hyderabad doesn’t add much to the film, whether visually or culturally. “Try our south Indian delicacies,” a character says all-too specifically. Salman and Venkatesh team up for a lungi dance, dragging poor Ram Charan into the mix. It’s the worst cross-over sequence in years, an absolute and unforgivable erroRRR.

“You are amazing,” Bhaijaan is told. “That’s the problem.” The complaint will resonate with anyone with a love-hate relationship with Bollywood. Salman was never a serious actor. Neither was he, unlike Shah Rukh Khan or Hrithik Roshan, a consistently persuasive movie star. Yet there were phases in his career—in the 90s and 2000s especially—when he starred in a few memorable films. He was once briefly amazing, and that’s the problem.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is currently running in theatres

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