A Hindi film flopping at the boxoffice is not an unusual thing. Trade pundits consider it a routine happening in the cine world, for they say on an average nine out of every ten Hindi films fail to do well commercially. But there are some Hindi films whose failure cannot be described as a routine happening as they stand apart.
They say when the cottage of a poor man topples over, it goes almost unnoticed, but when an imposing and expensive edifice crashes, it is not just noticed but also widely discussed. Similarly, the recently released Salman Khan film, Tubelight can be categorised as a big project — as imposing as an edifice. The film received a lot of pre-release publicity in the media.
As the day of release approached, expectations from Khan’s fans rose to a fever pitch. The film’s producers, distributors, and exhibitors too had great expectations. Accustomed as they were to Khan giving one superhit after another, they looked forward with bated breath to Tubelight doing not only good business but also breaking some records at the box office.
But, alas, after the very first show, word went round that Tubelight was a mighty poor film that dismally failed to sustain the viewers’ interest from start to finish. So, compared with Khan’s earlier films, the box-office collections of Tubelight have so far been depressingly modest. Doubtless, the film has flopped and adversely impacted the fortunes of many people connected with it.
Why has Tubelight failed to deliver? There are several reasons behind it. First, Khan in the role of a somewhat feeble-minded person with the IQ of a child has perhaps taken much of the fizz off this film. By and large, Khan’s fans are accustomed to his macho image.
The way he has been seen in some films peeling off his shirt to reveal his muscular physique — on which there is not an ounce of misplaced fat —and the way his fans have been seen going delirious over it, is of course totally beyond the scope of Tubelight. But the macho man image of the star is not always a prerequisite for the success of his film. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Khan did not appear as a macho man but viewers still liked him. He was quite charming in the role of a simple-hearted, peace-loving Hanuman bhakt who takes upon himself the dangerous responsibility of sneaking into Pakistan to restore a lost Muslim child to her parents.
But in Tubelight, which has been inspired by the Hollywood film, Little Boy,Khan’s role gives him little scope for charming his fans.
In short, his image in this film is diametrically opposed to the image that most of his fans have formed of him down the years. But, then, it is not just the image problem.
The film fails on some other counts too. Tubelight fails to grip viewers throughout because of its rather unrealistic and also somewhat uninteresting script. It is set in the backdrop of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
As the film opens, one finds that the dimwitted Laxman Kumar Bisht (Salman Khan) is known in his town by the sobriquet, Tubelight.
He has a younger brother named Bharat Kumar Bisht (Sohail Khan). Both brothers dote on each other as they have lost their parents when they were very young. There is a sudden disruption in the smooth-sailing routine of their lives when Bharat gets drafted into the Indian Army during a recruitment drive in their town. Soon Bharat is sent to the border where tensions are mounting between the two countries.
Life then takes another turn for Laxman when two Indians of Chinese origin arrive in the town. And while a war is being waged at the border, Bharat goes missing.
Will Laxman, who has been inspired by the Gandhian values of his mentor Banne Chacha (Om Puri), ever find his lost brother? How he sets about it and ultimately things pan out is in brief the outline of the story. But, alas, everything in the Kabir Khan-directed Tubelight seems a little too far-fetched and completely lacking verisimilitude.
So, even after stretching their credulity to the utmost limits, viewers still find it hard to believe that what is being shown on the screen can also be true in real life.
For them, it is more like listening to a boring sermon full of didactic teachings than watching an interesting movie. In short, we can say that, apart from other reasons, it is principally on the bedrock of its unconvincing storyline that Khan’s Tubelight has sunk