Cast: Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani, Prateik Babbar, Deepak Dobriyal, Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda, Darshan Kumar
Direction: Ahmed Khan
‘Baaghi 2’ is as clichéd as a typical Bollywood action movie can be – full of revenge and drama, with a distasteful item song thrown in as an afterthought. The film sacrifices logic and rationale at the altar of daredevilry.
If there is a recipe for how not to make an action film for the millennial, Ahmed Khan, I would say, has definitely got his hands on it.
I did walk in with zero expectations. The director had managed to rope in some big guns in the acting department (Manoj Bajpayee and Randeep Hooda, for instance) so I thought just maybe there’d be something unexpectedly good here. Maybe, despite my apprehensions, I would eventually be pleasantly surprised.
Alas! That wasn’t to be.
Here’s how it goes.
A three-year-old is abducted and the mother reaches out to her ex-lover to try and find the missing daughter. Simple enough? Our interest is piqued with the gradual reliasation that the there might be something amiss in the mother’s version of events. That no one seems to have witnessed a crime committed in broad daylight only adds to the suspicions.
Where is little Rhea? Is there a nexus between the police and the drug mafia? Is the father telling the truth when he suggests that his wife is imagining the abduction?
Despite over-the-top action sequences and an asinine approach by an army officer, the first half keeps you invested, somewhat. The wife’s ex, Captain Ranveer Pratap Singh (played by the astoundingly brawny Tiger Shroff) has almost a covert task at hand – to locate his former girlfriend’s daughter without the father’s knowledge;.
The case is closed by the police for lack of evidence, yet Ranveer’s first move is to annihilate a police station teeming with cops because one of them makes a suggestive remark towards his former beau.
That our commando is big on valour, but not on common sense, is suggested throughout, albeit unintentionally. Handling a case as delicate as this one, where a single a misstep can cost a three-year-old her life, not one of our bronzed protagonist’s moves involves a considered thought about the possible dire consequences. He is ever ready to unleash his wrath and beat his opponents to a pulp. Forget about following up on leads and networking – Tiger Shroff’s character just “keeps calm and beats them up”.
If one were to compare, Tiger Shroff is Salman Khan multiplied by ten – only without even a fraction of the ‘bhai’s’ sex appeal. When Tiger’s insanely shredded commando takes on his opponents Arnold-style, he just doesn’t bring down a few, he single-handedly obliterates an entire platoon.
I’m even ready to overlook the excesses (this is, after all, an Indian ‘action’ movie) if the story at least made an attempt at coherence. But if the filmmakers feel that displays of muscle definition and exhibition of gravity defying stunts can replace an actual storyline then all stuntmen would have become Bollywood superstars.
It is almost blasphemous that quality performers such as Manoj Bajpayee and Randeep Hooda are treated as mere placeholders. Despite their undoubted ability, they are given no agency to make an impact in the script. (Remember Hooda’s cameo in ‘Sultan’ where he made us take notice of him). In ‘Baaghi 2)’, he just saunters around like a hippie, leaving one to wonder how he is even allowed to turn up to office like that.
Deepak Dobriyal’s attempt to reinvent himself as a serious actor is turning out to be an epic fail. His Hyderabadi accent sounds utterly fake and he just isn’t effective playing the token good Muslim, reminiscent of the 1980’s potboilers.
Much has already been said about Jacqueline Fernandez’s remake of ‘Ek Do Teen’. To add my two cents, it is an assault on the senses. A gyrating Fernandez might be much better sculpted than Madhuri in ‘Tezaab’ (1988) but her raunchy moves are downright repulsive. It is as if an electric current is being passed through her as she sways jerkily to this item number. Dear Jacqueline, you can do justice to ‘Chittiyan Kalaiyaan’, you can probably attempt ‘Chikni Chameli’, but please stay away from cult classics like this one.
This film starts off as a covert operation for a child abduction case, but by the end of two hours it starts playing out like a war on the big screen, complete with choppers, machine guns and all the ammunition needed for a full-fledged assault.
The sheer ludicrousness of the entire exercise is exasperating.
If you enjoy videogames where all your favourite character does is beat the opponents to a pulp then you will definitely like ‘Baaghi 2’. I didn’t. Obviously, I enjoy good cinema more than I enjoy a good videogame.