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Saved by gritty action

Saved by gritty action
Bollywood is all about epic heroes who make a place in the imagination of the masses and also the 100 crore club. It is no mean task. They have stock formula, a fashion code aped by the fans, approved by the lesser stars and have their own signatures styles that extend not only to dialogues but to action sequences as well.

But over time, as is the case with most things with shelf life, the stock formula gets a little repetitive. While it is perfectly acceptable to find a comfort spot and a safe zone, entertainment expects actors to up their bar every once in a while. For it does get tad bit boring to see the actor almost hamming the same lines in one of the most awaited releases of the year. Sad, but true.

The three Khans in the industry — Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir, have unanimously ruled Bollywood for the last few decades and no younger talent has been able to dislodge them quite yet. While each have made peace in their own safe zones, there is just so much of the bulky street-smart or the suave-romantic or the brooding-intellectual that the audience can keep taking. Ennui is a strange malaise.

Dabangg
was a kickstart to a career that was in a slight rut of sorts. With the likes of Yuvraj, Veer, Main aur Mrs Khanna and London Dreams — the role of Chulbul Pandey was the much needed wake up call for Salman Khan. He not only shook up the box office but breathed in a new life to his brand of histrionics. Absurdity of dialogue and action became synonymous to Salman and Bollywood started to believe that he could clearly do anything.
 
Bodyguard
and Ready followed the same tenor of sorts but Ek Tha Tiger was expected to up the game. This was Bollywood’s one chance to make espionage look sauve, sleek yet perfectly entertaining. Perhaps director Kabir Khan did not go completley off the track, but the entertainment factor, a matter of utmost concern for Salman Khan films, was missing.
 
Ek Tha Tiger, to put it simply, is about the two eternally warring espionage systems of two enemy countries — ISI and RAW. Tiger [Salman] is a RAW agent, notorious of the body count during his missions, one of the best on the job and terribly single minded in focus. Tiger is conscribed to a mission in London where he must tail a scientist turned professor who is suspected of working with ISI and probably passing on valuable missile technology related information to Pakistan.

Tiger, along with a colleague Gopi [Ranvir Shorey] lands up in London and bumps into Zoya [Katrina Kaif] — who conveniently is the professor’s housekeeper. Tiger takes on the persona of Manish Chandra, a writer, to get close to Zoya and there gain access to the professor’s quarters. With the help of a few dates, a crazy fight sequence where Tiger salvages a train from crashing into traffic and a very pretty song sequence, Tiger realises that he is in love with Zoya.

The night Tiger breaks in to the professor’s house after being tipped off about some activity, he comes face to face with the ISI agent who is on the same mission. Tiger kills the ISI agent and returns to India distraught, only to be sent to Istanbul next where the very ISI agent he killed is back in business and expecting Tiger there. The readers will thank us for saving the story for them — this review is spoiler free. What happens next is not very interesting — but is mildly entertaining. Mildly.

Ek Tha Tiger is Salman’s film through and through. The style is entirely the actor’s signature. Katrina flits in and out trying her hand in acting and making most feel that she just should not have bothered. Ranvir Shorey as a RAW agent is terribly insipid and Girish Karnad as the RAW chief is rather drab and stern — perhaps that is how they are in real life — till he takes on his whiskey and Tiger’s cooking skills.

The action, we must point out, is very well done. It is not the unbelievable genre of action we have learned to associate with Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Rohit Shetty and Abhinav Kashyap sorts — but the real, gritty action. The kind you see in Hollywood counterparts but toned down by the Bollywood inanities. Cars don’t fly, bodies don’t catapult in air or bounce away —the degree of absurdity in this action is much lesser than in other Bollywood films lately. The last action sequence however dashes all hopes in keeping it suave — the plane flies, Salman’s bike flies and while the place takes off, Salman manages to jump off the bike and hang right on to the plane. Go figure!

The soundtrack fits in well but the back ground score seems to distract the flow of the story at places. Another one for the Rs 100 crore club perhaps — but nothing brilliant. Come on Salman — step up the game!
Jhinuk Sen

Jhinuk Sen

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