Starcast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sajjad Delfarooz, Paresh Raval, Girish Karnad, Angad Bedi, Anupriya
Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar
Nearly everyone who came to watch Tiger Zinda Hai (TZH) first day first show at VOX Cinema, Mall of the Emirates clicked selfies and uploaded them furiously. And a few of them whistled as they left the theatres - quite like what Salman Khan would have imagined. A few years ago, in an interview, the superstar mentioned that he likes to star in films that make you stand up on the cinema seats and whistle and throw coins at the screen. Well, we didn’t have a dirhams shower in the theatre but the cross-nationality audience had quite a great time watching the movie.
Firstly, it is a film shot in a 65-day schedule in Abu Dhabi and the credits thank the Abu Dhabi Film Commission and its members. So if you are a UAE resident, you identify with it all the more. And even if you are not, you will marvel at the shots, location and execution of the plot.
A pure entertainer, TZH is based on a real incident that shook the nation a few years ago - that of nurses being taken hostage in Iraq. In this case, the writer/director mixes them up into Indian and Pakistani nurses that thus allow both RAW and ISI scope to work together. Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif head operations of RAW and ISI respectively to rescue the nurses and bring them to safety from terrorist Abu Usman played by the gorgeous UAE-based Iranian actor Sajjad Delfarooz.
Hindi cinema has mostly seen romances from India and Pakistan or films based on hatred. Here, the two countries come together to fight a common enemy - terrorism. Well metaphorised by the ‘entry’ of the hero who rescues his son from a pack of wolves, the film follows the same formula in another set up: the hero saves women and children from the enemy kingdom.
The banter from both agents lend to a few guffaws and without intellectualising too much (like most of Salman Khan film), the message is delivered loud and direct - of coming together to settle a bigger issue and establish harmony. The nurses and their noble profession add a touch of sympathy and emotional labyrinth to the story.
On the technical front, the slick camera work and background score matches the film’s pace and your eyes rarely leave the screen. The locations are established with great harmony - with Sajjadeach one labelled - “Somewhere in Syria, Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, “Somewhere in the Liwa desert’. What is a tad unconvincing is that when Tiger and his team are led to the hospital where they are to be treated for burns, they don’t look burnt at all. They stand tall as they walk into a space that is the stronghold of the rebel leader played by Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz. A professor turned cold-blooded terrorist, he is the perfect example of a poet turned gun wielding terrorist who entraps an entire population to extremism through his fiery speeches and religious fundamentalism. His confession towards the end that everything is really business adds gravitas to his role and Sajjad excels as a performer and an actor who makes his mark. He emotes with his eyes and speaks Hindi as well.
Paresh Rawal impresses with his histrionics, his uncouth, cut throat character and lends humour to his scenes with his phone's ‘Chandni’ ringtone. Kumud Mishra’s Hanuman Chalisa fixation draws a few laughs and Angad Bedi as Tiger’s accomplice makes a mark. Katrina Kaif in her lithe, well- toned body wows us with her stunts. She dares to look ugly in a few scenes and that adds to her character in the film.
Well scripted, well shot and engaging TZH is a good watch and a very entertaining film.
PS: The flavour of the year seems to be Iranian. Irnian actress Golshifteh Farahani gave us a memorable performance in The Song of Scorpions, the Irrfan Khan starrer that premiered at Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) a few weeks ago and now we have Sajjad Delafrooz in Tiger Zinda Hai!