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‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ review: this Tiger is funny

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@TigerZindaHai  

Tiger Zinda Hai might be based on the 2014 abduction of Indian nurses by the jihadist group ISIS/ISIL but the only specks of authenticity to expect in the Ali Abbas Zafar film are the correct names of the geographical locations — Mosul, Tikrit — recreated in Morocco and Abu Dhabi, perhaps. Everything else defies reality and logic, unabashedly so.

Just about anything goes in the name of Bhai. The film is a far-fetched, brazen and unapologetic paean to the stardom of Salman Khan, showcasing him as the ultimate action hero. Right from his ‘entry’ scene complete with the trademark scarf and his one-on-one with a pack of wolves to him single-handedly taking on an entire army of terrorists, a la Rambo, with his shirt customarily off. He looked stocky to me, his face seemed tired and bloated. Some of the sequences felt tacky for the huge money invested in the film and Bhai’s body double did show through in some scenes. In fact, I thought Katrina Kaif, as the Pakistani agent Zoya, and Salman “Tiger” Khan’s wife, with whom he stays in a third country — Austria — was far more agile on her feet and got the more thrilling and well choreographed action sequences. Why did film turn her prowess into a sampler of and passing nod to ‘women’s empowerment’! But everyone around me in the theatre was mandatorily thrilled, even when Bhai was doing nothing. So be it.

‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ review: this Tiger is funny
 

At one level the film is a huge khichdi (mess) — it unleashes Sallu’s bhaigiri, plays on patriotism and tricolour jingoism and also aims to be a well-meaning Indo-Pak peace initiative (on India’s terms and largesse though), bringing RAW and ISI together on a joint mission. Why it even takes the US to task for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, tugs at our heart-strings with a 13-year-old human bomb and talks of lofty ideals like humanity rising above nationalism and religion.

Tiger Zinda Hai
  • Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
  • Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Paresh Rawal, Girish Karnad, Siddharth Basu, Angad Bedi, Kumud Mishra,
  • Storyline: RAW agent Tiger returns with Zoya to save the Indian (and Pakistani) nurses held hostage by jihadists
  • Run time: 161 minutes

However, despite the confusion of ideas, ideologies and issues, what makes the film win the day — lest one gives in to it voluntarily — is the brash masala appeal and the strain of jokiness running through and through. Khan’s stardom, patriotic spiel, the flag diplomacy and Indo-Pak relations… there is as much flippancy at play in all of them, intentionally so, as there is shameless emotional manipulation.

Yes, our patriotic hero might have married a Pakistani but still makes her cook Indian food — tinde of all the veggies please — and listens to film songs like ‘Ole Ole’. He reads the story of Bhagat Singh to his young son and his wife says she loves him because, “Aap mujhse zyada desh se pyaar karte ho” (you love your country more than me). A Muslim man from the Indian army regards the tricolour above the Quran. In short, the film had all the makings of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” cinema.

‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ review: this Tiger is funny
 

Thankfully, there was much more for me to giggle at here — brilliant cheesy lines like “Think with cold head (the literal English translation for the Hindi saying, “thande dimaag se sochna”) or the menacing terrorist spouting profound lines like: “Saal aankhon ke saamne ek pal ki tarah beet jaayenge” (The years will flash past your eyes like a mere moment). Then there’s Zoya’s exasperation at having to cook an Indian meal for Tiger or her irritation at him not slicing a single tomato in the kitchen but cooking his famous kaali dal for the RAW chief. How can one remain straight-faced and not chuckle at an agency like RAW getting hacked at by its own former agent? The film’s got code words like “Maa ki dal” and the song “Tu tu tu, tu tu tara” in the thick of an international war zone. Or the ISI and RAW agents bantering over an Indian tennis player marrying a Pakistani cricketer; and spoiling his form on top of that.

I think I just found my guilty pleasure film of 2017; right at the end of the year.

 

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 12:18:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/tiger-zinda-hai-review-this-tiger-is-funny/article22259972.ece

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