Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranvir Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth
Directed by Kabir Khan
Ek Tha Jackie Shroff. And then he had a son. But this one belongs to the genre mastered by Jackie Chan and plastered with superhuman stunts by Salman Khan: action comedy mashed up with a spy thriller. If you thought Agent Vinod (read review) made a Ronald McDonald out of the genre, Ek Tha Tiger (ETT) takes a mousey tail and sticks it up his nose for Salman to swing from ear to ear. Regardless, if you’ve followed Salman’s recent films, you know that they’re in a genre of their own and cannot be graded for the story, screenplay, performances or any other metric used to evaluate other films. They can just be enjoyed or suffered, depending upon the elasticity of your tolerance.
Enemy spies materialising from every nook and cranny are smashed shapeless by our indestructible RAW agent Tiger (Salman Khan). Tiger’s only grouse: no time for love and his undercover operations make him a little less desirable to most women and their parents. But this changes when he bumps into Zoya (Katrina Kaif) on a mission. Their ‘kahaani mein twist’ happens when Tiger discovers Zoya’s true identity. In Zoya’s words, “You are RAW, I am ISI. Yeh nahin ho sakta!” Even Tiger had initially got an earful about making difficult choices between ‘farz’ and ‘pyaar’ from RAW chief Shenoy (Girish Karnad). But true love triumphs when he chooses to look beyond Zoya’s un-RAWness and lets their bond thaw in sunny Cuba by escaping the shackles of duty. The rest of the film is laced with 3250 glasses smashed, 2314 cars wasted beyond recognition and never-ending chase sequences where Tiger cannot be caught by his tail. Agent Vinod, you’ve got a doppelganger. Only difference, he doesn’t try to diffuse a nuclear bomb that resembles a mosambi juice maker.
This film seems to be director Kabir Khan’s ultimate fantasy to script a desi Bond flick (like Tezz). Sadly, forcing a love story in it makes this concoction too lethal to consume. The chase sequences have been choreographed with meticulous detailing of parkour stunts. But this fails to have an impact as Salman only manages to jog clumsily and his unenthusiastic baby steps are followed by Olympian leaps across buildings. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography does justice to the yellow outdoors of Cuba and makes Iraq seem just enough dusty to be believable. But stereotyping locations also means tacky and predictable visuals. Turkey: Blue Mosque, Cuba: montage of people puffing cigars and hip swaying to Rumba. It’s like the script writer was inspired by a tourist brochure.
Despite what you’ve read above, Salman fans will cheer and hoot for him each time he appears on the screen and delivers lines like, “Main aashiq banne se pehle agent tha.” To his credit, Salman manages to throw in the right amount of punches but fails to conceal his water-pillow-ish paunch. If he would’ve lost a few inches around his waist and been a bit snappier with the action scenes, he could’ve just made the cut. Katrina has come a long way from being just a pretty face and offers a range of expressions. Her teary-eyed one is a first and can drift her boat in the direction of actually becoming an actress who can manage a range of roles.
While whatever Salman Khan says with conviction becomes a legendary dialogue, the lines here are superhumanly powerless and clichéd. Even in Cuba, a graffiti of Che Guevara (when translated) reads, “Jis Mohabbat Mein Deewangi Nahin Woh Mohabbat Hi Nahin.” This is only possible if Javed Akhtar recently went holidaying to Havana. Also, neither of the songs manage to find a home in your ears but if you have die-hard Sallu fans in the audience, they would surely sit back till the end for 'Mashallah'.
One of the most annoying dilemmas that the lead cast is constantly pondering over through the film is whether to follow the dil or the dimaag. Let’s just say, if you’ve donated the first to Salman Khan, leave the second at home at head to the nearest multiplex. Else, stay put at home and suffer Independence Day specials on the telly.
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