I’m back from the dead to write this, because the roar of the TIGER woke me up. The last time I felt such a rush of adrenaline was this morning at work, at breakfast when I had a big can of Red Bull just after my latté. YRF has been quite desperate it seems to get itself the membership of the so called 100 cr club. And in true Bond style, they seem to have went all in for the big kill. No bluffs, just full house. Ek Tha Tiger (ETT) is possibly the best “non-YRF, YRF” movie, if you know what I mean. You cannot help getting charmed by this movie, over and over again. There are no physical hair-tearing dumb jokes which stare at you cueing for laughter. Neither do we see Rohit Shetty style stationary jeeps blowing the shit up. In fact, ETT is a pure case study of Bollwood 101, created by the pen of Aditya Chopra and captured on camera by Kabir Khan.
I have a lot to discuss after the jump. In case you’re here just for the star rating – skip right to the bottom to the FINAL THOUGHTS section. If you have not seen this movie yet, let me warn you- there are a ton of spoilers waiting to pounce on you on the other side. So, continue only if you have let the TIGER out of the bag.
Still here? Good! So here we go!
ETT seems to borrow a lot from Luck By Chance (this could be only me, because I love that movie). Not only does it name Katrina after the director of LBC, it picks up a lot of the instructions from Satish Chaudhry (Alyy Khan). As Chaudhry saab pitches to Rolly jee – “Bhaisaab, (with a strong fist and a convincing look), ye hai first half, aur ye hai second half. Aap dekhenge to bolenge, Satish, tu ne picture pe paise bahut lagaye hai“. As I said, YRF seems to have gone all in with this. And Kabir Khan wearing the jacket of Professor Bollywood, seems to be pointing at the likes of the Shettys and yelling – “Bahut hua South-Indian remake. Bollywood mein aisi banti hai” . [Translated: Enough of the South Indian remakes. This is how it’s done in Bollywood]
And to quote Film School instructor Nand Kishore (Saurabh Shukla), “Bollywood mein actor banne ke liye bade gunnn chahiye“. Our hero can be the harmless Manish Chandra, and also the ass kicking RAW agent Tiger. They make Salman dance random Salsa in Havana. Beat that Bourne. And Agent Vinod – gaya tel lene.
And man, there’s even a dream dance sequence as Romy Rolly’s chhota bhai Ranjit Rolly would have prescribed for. I think Zoya Akhtar should at least demand a mention in the credit sequence.
Dishoom Dishoom Around The World
ETT begins with a Goldeneye-esque prologue action sequence, on a mundane summer day in Iraq. Salman looks like a desi Nathan Drake, and even the action seems as polished and smooth as Uncharted. The action scenes in this movie have totally won me over. There is plenty of slow motion for you to get excited about the high frame rate, enough flying sidekicks, and Salman performing parkour from roof to roof. And that is just the beginning 10 minutes.
Sallu gets to travel across the world, and leave his boot marks on the asses of baddies in different continents – from Dublin to Istanbul to Havana. And each place offers its distinct action sequence characteristics.
I have to mention this. The action sequence in Havana seemed dangerously close to the Thumbs Up adverts, and I was anticipating a moment when Sallu Bhai would just flip out a bottle and go “Aaj kuch toofani karte hai“!. Aided with some good stunt doubles, and some tacky CGI, the action sequences is mostly mind-blowing awesome.
Chemistry Chemistry Chemistry
– so said Chemistry professor Chandi Chopra (Sushmita Sen, Main Hoon Naa). Well, we never get to attend her lectures. But by chemistry here, I mean that between Katrina and Salman. This is the jodi of the year, even when Salman has droopy eyes that make Senior Shenoy Sir (Girish Karnad) look like a new recruit. Salman shares some cutesy and romantic scenes with his lady, and they shine as the romantic lead, be it in their coy and jolly moments, or their tag team champion avatars.
Director Kabir Khan, better known as a documentary director, seems to be a bit out of place here. What is he doing directing a Salman Khan movie which by default comes with a disclaimer – “BHAI WILL KICK ASS, and you cannot do anything about it” ? But I guess, it is a challenge for him as a director to take Aditya Chopra’s narrative and make it his own. And Kabir Khan does extremely well in making us believe that these hard-trained spies are actually in love. Although, I do have a small complaint – Why take so long to make Sallu Bhai take off his shirt?
Katrina swings between the extremes of damsel in distress and femme fatalé. And there seems to be no room for transformation. There are no unmasking moments when one moment she’s this dancing student, and the other moment, we get to know that she’s Zoya, the ISI agent. For a moment, I thought I’d only get to see her teary eyes. But Kat gets to show off her lycra denim’s elasticity, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, and even beating up agents.
Salman brings all of himself to the table (Ok, that was my last Casino Royale reference). Maybe we don’t get to see the quirky Chulbul Pandey. But this is a RAW agent. Again, Vinod be damned. And this one’s a Rathore too. And we know what happens when they get ROWDY *wink wink*. Picture this, Tiger chases an ISI agent in Dublin city. The action sequence ends with Tiger stopping the train by his blazer wrapped around his hand, which disconnects the tram’s power supply from the electric wires. And then Sallu Bhai walks out of the scene, wearing the same blazer, not giving a single fuck about what shit he blew up throughout the length and breadth of the city. And we blindly believe in his swagger. That is the sheer power of stardom right there.
ETT solely relies on one man – Tiger, in the disguise of Salman Khan, and that man kicks ass so hard that we are compelled to scream out Mashallah! ETT delivers everything it promised and more. Salman Khan roars his way to the 100 cr club and so does YRF with it. Tiger is what Bourne can only dream to be when he grows up. Maybe he needs some daal recipes.
Mashallah! Mashallah! Mashallah! Mashallah!