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Bollywood’s Salman Khan serves up another crowd-pleasing blockbuster on Eid al-Fitr

Salman Khan
Salman Khan surprised many of his fans with his long hair in his newest movie.

There are certain things I’ve come to associate with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Also known as the “Holiday of Breaking of the Fast”, it’s a joyous, historically significant, and traditional celebration held to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. This year it fell from Thursday to Friday evening on April 20 and 21.

One of those things I’ve come to expect is TV images of Muslims praying. I’ve also noticed that North American employers don’t make a big deal of Eid al-Fitr. This is despite its deep religious importance.

It struck me, for example, that two MSNBC Muslim broadcasters, Ali Velshi and Ayman Mohyeldin, were both hosting shows in succession just as Muslims around the world were celebrating with their families. Meanwhile in Canada, two high-profile Muslim broadcasters, Farrah Nasser and Omar Sachedina, continued anchoring the Global TV and CTV national newscasts, respectively.

Did your employer offer Muslim colleagues a day off? For most readers, I’m guessing that the answer is “no”. This needs to change.

The third thing that I’ve come to associate with Eid al-Fitr is the release of a new, big-budget Bollywood blockbuster starring Salman Khan. It doesn’t happen every year, but this Muslim holiday has coincided with the opening of Sultan (2016), Tubelight (2017), Race 3 (2018), and Bharat (2019).

Watch the trailer for Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan.

Khan film plays up brotherly love

After a three-year hiatus during the pandemic, Khan is back with another huge Eid release, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan. It has all the hallmarks of the Bollywood bad boy’s pictures: an unforgettably dramatic opening scene, action-packed stunts, evil villains, an utterly implausible plot, cloying sentimentality, and close-ups of Sallu gazing at his love interest.

Naturally, Salman also goes shirtless to show off his rippling muscles. He still has them at the age of 57. But as I watched the film, he occasionally looked a bit exhausted. Clearly, making movies like this can take a toll.

KKBKKJ’s title is translated into English as “Someone’s Brother, Someone’s Lover”. The story revolves around Khan’s character, Bhaijaan, raising three orphaned brothers into adulthood. None of the three marry, due to their affinity for their eldest “brother” Bhaijaan. This is despite their desire to wed girlfriends who have been kept secret from the superhero.

Director Farhad Samji leaned on brotherly love in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which are the two epic Sanskrit poems of ancient India. In fact, Khan’s character, Bhaijaan, and his love interest, Bhangyalakshmi (played by Pooja Hegde), even speak some Sanskrit. This helps seal their devotion to one another.

There are also sops to the “Motherland” of India, likely to appease the Hindu nationalist government in Delhi and its fanatical followers.

Salman Khan
Bhaijaan (Salman Khan) and his love interest, Bhangyalakshmi (played by Pooja Hegde), switch into Sanskrit at one point in the movie.

Salman doesn’t care about critics

The film is silly, over-the-top, and getting pilloried by some critics. Keep in mind that Salman Khan has never been as respectable to the elites as the other Bollywood Khans: Shahrukh, Saif Ali, and especially Aamir. But his handsome tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold persona endears him to the masses. This is why Salman has remained a box-office kingpin as others his age find themselves reduced to playing character roles.

Like his other movies, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan is also fast-paced and keeps the attention of those who don’t take cinema too seriously. Plus, the fight scenes are among the most imaginative to have ever come out of Bollywood.

Last year when Top Gun: Maverick was released, I compared its star, Tom Cruise, to Salman Khan. That’s because neither of them really seems to care about the critics. In addition, each resonates an almost effortless sincerity on-screen in giving their fans what they want.

Salman Khan, unlike some of his Bollywood peers, doesn’t seem interested in aping the West, either. His movies don’t try to pretend to be something they’re not. At the end of the day, this is refreshing—especially if you can stomach the ’80s-style bone-crushing violence.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.