If I read one more interview of Sunil Shetty’s where he goes on and on about how amazing his performance in "Border" was and how he is now respected as a legendary actor, I think I am going to puke. Mr. Shetty follows his somewhat decent performances in "Border" and "Prithvi" with "Bhai", where he attempts to ape Sunny Deol’s "Ghayal"-like intensity. Does he pass?
Sunil does have many, many, many (almost too many?) intense scenes throughout "Bhai", but you must bite your lip to refrain from laughing at some of them. His major drawback since his first film is that he has this muscular physique and manly build, but his voice is so weak and high-pitched that he ends up looking awkward on screen. Sunil should realize that he can never be Sunny, as Sunny has a great amount of intensity in his voice alone. Nevertheless, to give a dog his due - Sunil has definitely improved quite a bit and manages to carry off some of the high intensity dramatic scenes of the film. As far as comedy and dancing is concerned, he has always performed well and manages to do the same with this film.
"Bhai" is one of those films with the old hackneyed theme of the village simpleton getting attacked by the forces of evil, which compel him to become street smart and seek revenge. Sunil (in a ridiculously funny wig and moustache) plays the innocent villager, who moves to Mumbai with his kid brother in order to escape these evil forces - namely the police (as in every Hindi film). Well, the corruption of the police and the underworld manage to harass him in Bombay as well. A few reels and murders later, Sunil becomes "Bhai", the big don/messiah of the poor.
Though the theme is redundant, "Bhai" is actually a fairly interesting film to watch, mainly due to the above average performances from the cast. The child actor who plays Sunil’s brother is quite impressive and is even able to match Sunil step for step in the dance department. Shakti Kapoor has a few brief but nonetheless well-performed scenes, as a friend of Sunil’s. Though Sonali Bendre does a decent job with her tomboyish role, she definitely looses the thunder to Pooja Batra. Pooja, in her second release, shows that she is definitely on her way up the ladder of success. She plays a very simple, sari-clad Indian role, which is in stark contrast to her NRI character in "Virasat", yet she still manages to carry off the role beautifully and with a lot of confidence.
The music of the film is nothing to write home about. The script is also nothing extraordinary, but the direction and treatment of the script do improve the quality of the film quite a bit. "Bhai" is a film that you probably won’t remember for a long time, but at a time when a lot of films are too boring to even sit through, Bhai manages to provide a decent amount of entertainment.