In Alejandro Monteverde’s American film Little Boy (2015), eight-year-old Pepper Flynt Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is perennially bullied for being short and nicknamed “little boy” a small town in California .
In Kabir Khan’s Tubelight, Laxman Singh Bisht (Salman Khan) is an oddball who is known as “Tubelight” owing to his dense self in a Dehradun village.
Soon after the first teaser for the June 23 release was rolled out, director Kabir Khan cleared the air over alegations that the film was a copy of Little Boy. “It is in the credits of Tubelight as Official Story Adaptation. But it’s just the seed of an idea. Everything else has been completely changed in Tubelight,” he told the DNA newspaper.
Both films explore the themes of self-belief and unparalleled love – one for a father (Little Boy) and the other for a brother (Tubelight). Set in the fictional town of O’Hare in California amidst World War II, Little Boy stars Michael Rapaport as James Busbee and Salvati as his son Pepper.
Mocked for his tiny stature, Pepper finds respite in his father, who urges him to nurture faith in himself. The boy’s life is shattered when his father leaves home to fight the Japanese and is taken prisoner. Pepper doesn’t give into despair. When a priest reads out a verse from the Bible, “If we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move a mountain,” Pepper takes the words literally. He begins his quest to bring back his father and end the war itself with nothing but conviction and an unlikely Japanese friend (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).
Stellar performances aside, the film was slammed by critics for its excessive melodrama and outlandish faith-based undertones.
Set against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian war, Tubelight is sure to feature appropriate Bollywood equivalents. “If you have belief one can move mountains,” says Om Puri in the trailer, mimicking the priest from Little Boy. The film stars Sohail Khan as Salman Khan’s brother in the film, while Chinese actress Zhu Zhu makes her Bollywood debut. There is a little boy in Tubelight too: the cherubic Matin Tey Tangu.