At a certain stage of the narrative the heroine tells the protagonist: tum na bahut hi self-obsessive ho. This sums up the Ali Abbas Jaffar tiring quasi historic recap of India from partition to Manmohanomics seen through the eyes of the shirt tearing Khan who has not got out of his Bajrangi Bhaijan days and cross border hangover. Only this time instead of taking some one from here to that side of the Wagah border he has left behind some one for whom he yearns with a huge guilt complex.
Partition disturbs the life of the local railway station master Gautam (Jackie Shroff). Even as the family joins the mass cross border exodus the father delegates family responsibility to the little son Bharat and asks him to take care of Mom (Sonali Kulkarni) and other siblings while he goes in search of little lost Gudiya his daughter. Mom and displaced family members land up at the house of aunt (Ayesha Mirza) whose husband does not want the refugees at home. His grocery business is too small to support the new additions to the family.
Bharat however does odd jobs to keep the family going. Soon he grows up and joins a circus and performs dare and dangerous tricks. Bharat (Salman Khan) and his friend Vilayat (Sunil Grover) soon are a success story at the circus alongside Radha (Disha Patani). Soon they part and it is back to poverty. Exit Radha enter Kuma Raina (Katrina) who is a supervisor of some oil drilling company where she behaves as if she is a local Mussolini and deals with all recruits with iron gloves but nurtures a soft corner for Bharat of muscle and blank looks fame.
In the midst of time lines including the passing of Pandit Nehru, India winning the World Cup (the last played with 60 overs!!) Bharat assumes various responsibilities to knot up the loose ends of the family but never gives up the hope of meeting up with the father and the sister he lost. Thematically though it is said to be inspired by Ode to a Father it is so close to Elie Wiesel’s Night on the morbid World War atrocities. Tabu makes a special appearance in the film and to mention her role would be playing spoilt sport. Streaks of biographical detail for the discerning is showing. Also is the tale of an elder son of a once upon a time star keeping the family together does not go unnoticed. The film simply has too much to state and states it all at a very peripheral level at the cost of content credibility and relevance.
While the film is built around the aura of Salman Khan it is strangely Katrina Kaif who gives a very polished performance. The Ek That Tiger actor seems to work well with the film maker and they seem to understand each other well. She surely shows grace and poise. Salman is himself. A guess that is clearly the intent of the script- nay the entire exercise. For his fans this is another Eid bonanza. For the rest it is an inelegant detail of India 1945-94 told in a haphazard manner with greater stress on Bharat (Salman) than most historic biographies are fashioned. Special mention must be made of Sunil Grover who genuinely gives the film its lighter moments.
The timing of the film and its non-competitive environ may get Salman back to the box office not the quality of the film.