Tubelight’ is a war-drama starring Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Zhu Zhu, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Om Puri and Shah Rukh Khan in a cameo. It has been directed by Kabir Khan and is set in the backdrop of Indo-Sino War of 1962. The movie is said to be an adaption of 2015 American film ‘Little Boy’.

The film begins with Laxman Bhist (Salman Khan) narrating about his childhood and explaining how he got to be nicknamed Tubelight. He in a naïve and innocent man who understands things a little slow, just like a tubelight which keeps blinking before fully lighting up. He lives in the small town of Jagatpur in the Kumaon region of Northern India. He is mocked and ridiculed by most of the people, especially the local bully Narayan (Md. Zeeshan), but he doesn’t mind them. Laxman’s only asset is his younger brother Bharat, who is also protective of his vulnerable elder brother. Laxman and Bharat’s parents died when they were kids and the boys were brought up by Banne Chacha (Om Puri), an avid follower of Mahatma Gandhi who raises the children by imparting Gandhian ideology. Everything is fine until when war breaks out at the Indo-China border and young men are required to join the military forces. Bharat and some others are enlisted in the army and they leave for the front to fight. Laxman and Narayan fail the physical test and hence have to stay back.

In the meantime, an Indian woman of Chinese origin Lee Ling (Zhu Zhu) come to live in their town with her son Guo (Matin). While Laxman initially dislikes them, being brought up on Gandhian principles of love, friendship and brotherhood, he befriends them and Guo becomes his best friend in absence of his brother Bharat. Laxman misses his brother and keeps enquiring from Major Rajveer Tokas (Yashpal Sharma), the army officer posted in the town, about Bharat’s return, but Bharat goes missing in action and everyone fears that he is dead. But Laxman has grown up learning the importance of faith as Banne Chacha tells him that faith can move mountains, and after watching magician Go-Go Pasha’s performance, he knows that with yakeen (faith), he can do anything, even alter the course of the war. He believes that Bharat will return and declares that he will bring him back with his ‘yakeen’.

‘Tubelight’ revolves around the Biblical verse ‘Faith can move mountains’ and the teachings of the Mahatma. It also touches upon the debate about what is nationalism and anti-nationalism, jingoism and racial discrimination, tries to drive home the point that merely shouting patriotic slogans is not nationalism. The movie is very different from other Salman Khan films as his character is not a macho man who flaunts his body and punches baddies. Though Salman’s Laxman is similar to that of the innocent Pawan Chaturvedi of ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, the character or the film is nowhere near to the 2015 blockbuster.

‘Tubelight’ is high on emotion with a heart-warming story of hope and love laced with beautiful message about universal brotherhood and the futility of wars. There are some funny and endearing moments in the first half, like Laxman’s silly antics, his fun moments with his brother, his squabble with the bullies, and scenes during the recruitment process etc. There are also some adorable moments between Laxman and his friend Guo and his mother Lee Ling in the emotionally heavier, and a bit slower second part. The background score and songs go well with the movie.  

The movie has been shot in the beautiful locations of Leh and Manali and visually it is very enthralling. The camera work, the wide-angle shots are brilliant. The war sequences have also been captured well, but it could have been better.

Salman Khan has a great screen presence and has again showcased his great comic timing. He has aced his role, but it isn’t really his best performance. His body language and mannerisms fits his character and his endearing act makes the audience feel for him. His is wonderful in the climax sequence, which gives a tribute to the wonderful actor Om Puri. His on-screen equation with real and reel brother Sohail, and with the young boy Matin is magical.

Sohail also plays his part of a protective brother with ease, while Matin is a natural and a show-stealer. Zhu Zhu is charming and pretty, but has nothing much to do, while Zeeshan puts up a superb performance in whatever screen time he gets. Yashpal and other supporting actors also play their part well. Om Puri reminds of what a gem the film industry has lost this year.  

Shah Rukh Khan has been one of the major highlights of ‘Tubelight’ as the film marks his silver screen reunion with Salman after a long gap and an infamous brawl. He makes an impression in the few minutes of his performance.

‘Tubelight’ is no ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, but it leaves audience with a good feeling. It is a neat and clean family entertainer, and is enjoyable with great performances and enthralling visuals.