‘Ek Tha Tiger’ review
Style meets sensibility in this new package from Salman and Yash Raj
Salman Khan movies are simply the hardest to review, more so because he’s officially become a tried-and-tested critic-proof actor since his climb back to star-power with Wanted. The moolah his movies have been raking in post the Prabhu Deva actioner, regardless of the content, characterization or overall quality, is for everyone to see.
Leaving Dabangg out of the equation (as it was a genuinely well-made masala flick that I thoroughly enjoyed), let’s put some examples to the table. Look at Ready. The movie managed to rake in an insane amount of Vitamin-M, despite the flimsy storyline, the terrible characterization and the toilet humor. Look at Bodyguard now. Need I say anything more? It thus zeroes down to the conclusion that to expect – forget scrutinize – anything from Salman-starrers is slightly difficult, unless you’re walking in only what is supposed to be expected from the kind and quality of films he associates with.
This is when Yash Raj Films came up with one of their biggest trump cards in the past six years. The team of Kabir Khan and Aditya Chopra are said to have personally narrated the screenplay to Khan, who seemed to have loved it. The association was thus finalized, only to be regarded as one of the most anticipated ones between production house and actor, more so because this was Yash Raj Films’ (YRF) first association with Khan, despite both being around for quite sometime in the industry. As a bonus, documentary filmmaker turned live-action director Kabir Khan’s got a pretty neat repertoire, what with his previous collaborations with YRF being the acclaimed Kabul Express and the successful New York. But of course, if someone’s written a film with Salman Khan’s star power in mind, it can’t necessarily be all intelligent, can it?
RAW super-spy Tiger (Salman Khan) embarks on mission-on-mission, leading an otherwise simple domestic lifestyle in Delhi when his senior Shenoy (Girish Karnad) sends him to Ireland on a seemingly simple mission to observe a possible suspect – mad scientist Kidwai (Roshan Seth). This is where he meets up with Kidwai’s caretaker Zoya (Katrina Kaif), a Brit-Indian who he initially finds an easy access-key to observe the then-scientist. Love blooms, until a rather unexpected complication tears his professional life and blurs his professional and personal borders to a huge extent.
This film isn’t really supposed to be an all-out action thriller, because from its very start, the film was touted to be a romantic thriller in genre. If that aspect is to be made absolutely clear, the movie will be understood and enjoyed. For Kabir Khan to have shifted gears and to have tried experimenting with commercial summer-popcorn material is pretty commendable. To his credit, not only has he executed quite a lot of scenes well, he’s brought out a certain restraint in the actors, which deserves brownie points. More on that later. The story by Aditya Chopra is pretty unique for a romantic thriller in India. The screenplay by Khan and Neelesh Mishra has a certain polish, and a Kabir Khan sensibility all around, however, this is obviously commercially viable summer blockbuster material made specifically for a slightly universal audience, and cinematic liberties are thus taken unapologetically. In hindsight though, it delivers dazzlingly well, especially for a Salman Khan starrer. Full thumbs-up to the production-design and art departments for achieving a slick look throughout the movie. Action is brilliant, and an important aspect of the film, and each fight between Salman Khan and his nemeses take the action-driven scenes to another level completely. Striking locales and a striking sense of framing has been well-achieved through Aseem Mishra’s cinematography and the well-balanced camerawork, which hasn’t been over-indulgent with experimentation. Costumes make the lead characters look undeniably stylish, and though Salman Khan looks slightly out of place in formals, he looks refreshingly different in the now catching on tee-jeans-keffiyeh combo. Music by Sohail Sen is a dampener as compared to his previous work, but the songs are shot really well. Guest-composers Sajid-Wajid’s Mashallah take the cake though, being both infectious and mind-blowingly executed visually.
Salman Khan doesn’t go overboard with his expressions this time and keeps a controlled hook on all scenes. Kabir Khan deserves brownie points for doing something different with Khan’s overall image in that respect. Katrina, as usual, looks absolutely stunning, and keeps taking her acting to another level. Here, she takes her emotion-driven conversations and scenes to a dizzying height altogether. Also watch out for her agility jumping around and performing her share of stunts. Ranvir Shorey is relegated to a support, but he lends ample one at that. Girish Karnad has proven himself to be an eclectic performer through the years he’s been in the industry, and here too, as Salman’s senior Shenoy, he’s given his all and hasn’t disappointed. Roshan Seth as Professor Kidwai is endearing while his role lasts. Others lend efficient support.
What might not work are the slightly lax pacing in the first half, which might put off a certain section of the people, but then again, if looked at from a purely promotional context, it’s supposed to be a romance with espionage and action as a backdrop; and not vice-versa. In that context, it’s worked well, what with the crackling chemistry between the protagonists. It’s also glued in with a pretty interesting message that is fortunately not shoved down our throats.
Overall, this is Yash Raj Film’s most profitable gamble commercially, and while the movie might suffer from divided reactions, there’s no denying that for the purpose of entertaining, the movie’s a bloody good thriller with stunning locales, gripping action, extremely bankable performances, a beautiful chemistry between the leads, and of course, Salman Khan, who’s back to woo his audience this Eid too. Style meets sensibility in this zabardast entertainment package! Go for it!
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