I finally watched Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and I have to say it wasn't as terrible as I'd thought it would be. Most of the credit for that goes to the child actor, Harshaali Malhotra. Unlike most other Indian child actors who can be cloyingly irksome, Harshaali is the optimal mix of cuteness and angelic innocence.
The story : affable do-gooder Pawan (Khan) with heart of gold resolves to restore lost child to her home in Pakistan. The catch: child is mute, although fairly expressive. Our macho hero tries the official route to getting little Shahida back home, but when all else fails he decides to hand-deliver her home. Of course that means he has to cross the border, but he being Salman, makes short shrift of that little problem. Bonhomie, good cheer is in the air. Everyone claps, leaves theater.
Salman does what he does best - plays a bumbling simpleton to the hilt. Karen is his kohl-lashed lady-love, weeping for his return from Pakistan. Bajrangi Bhaijaan has mass appeal because it loads the message of cross-border bhai-bhai with liberal doses of simple humor. Lots of drama, lot of emotional appeal, especially with Harshaali involved.