Posted On Friday, August 17, 2012 at 08:22:43 AM
A heart-pounding opening action sequence in a hill town of Iraq. Slow-mo shots featuring hundreds of cigarettes actually not inspired by Hollywood. Big Bhai’s entry… The first 20 minutes of Ek Tha Tiger makes for a case for the arrival of India’s action thriller of global standards; a huge step up for a 100 crore-club aspirant.
While moronic films like Bodyguard and Ready relied solely on the presence of Salman Khan to pull the wool over your eyes while the producers helped themselves to your pocket, at least director Kabir Khan shows ambition. Relatively speaking of course.
As Tiger — Khan’s RAW moniker — traverses the world (Dublin. Istanbul. Havana!), you’re treated to some slick, pulsing sequences where the infallible Khan chases goons, smashes them to pulp, saves tens of lives using commonsense and a blazer and meets the girl –– Zoya –– who turns his world upside down before setting it right again.
A climax set piece involving Cubans, a plane, and RAW and ISI agents shooting bullets in the same direction is an adrenalin administering high point. When he’s not gallavanting on these patriotic missions, he stays in a Grade 1 government house with nosy neighbours and cooks a famous dal. These are the good parts. But unfortunately, this is also only 30 per cent of the film.
The rest of the screenplay is at par with the last three films to make a 100 crores. You know what this means… an extremely sluggish half-baked plot with loose ends and unexplained coincidences; clichés involving dead human beings turning into stars, logic loopholes the size of Salman's fan base, humour that relies on crutches and the actors' non expressions, and a reemergence of the Bollywood stalker syndrome.
I genuinely do not understand this commonality between so many recent films: why must the ‘hero’ creepily stalk his prey… I mean… girl until she relents? Is this a new generation’s idea of winning over the opposite sex? What am I missing?
In the middle of the first half the story comes to a grinding halt while the stalk is on. In two self-reflective moments of honesty, the filmmaker sends his audience a veiled message.
The first: Tiger tries to be funny and Zoya shakes her head, informing him that this was a bad joke. And later: Salman Khan teaches Katrina Kaif how to pronounce ‘tangdi’ (as in kabab) properly. She just can’t get it right. A role written for a specific actor or inspired improvisation? We’ll never get to the bottom of it.
Stylistically, Ek Tha Tiger attempts to marry the grittiness of, say, Hollywood’s Bourne series with the gloss of a Yash Raj film. The result is an inconsistent look and feel. For instance, the cinematography in the action sequences, works with a healthy mix of handheld, tracking, and steadicam shots, all in realistic, incidental lighting.
While on the other hand you have a night scene about a picnic date in a park with swans and a lake that actually reflects a meteor shower. The artificiality and overdone lighting (so that you can see every inch of the frame) is totally outdated and old school.
Kaif with her smoky eyes, ever ascending confidence and a role tailored for her — a character of significance (unlike the prop heroines of Bollywood) — makes the most of it. Khan on the other hand holds back too much. Is he underplaying? Is he not acting at all? Hard to tell.
If you’re expecting an amusing, captivating, cool Chulbul Pandey-like performance, forget it. And yet, when he makes his entry, the silhouette and accompanying music is enough to bring the house down.
Now ask yourself this: are you going to watch Salman Khan or are you going to watch Ek Tha Tiger?