Producer: Aditya Chopra
Director: Kabir Khan
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranvir Shorey, Girish Karnad, Gavie Chahal, Roshan Seth
Music: Sohail Sen, Sajid-Wajid
Ek Tha Tiger (ETT) billed as the biggest Hindi movie of all time, has neither the definitive stamp of Salman Khan nor the classic signature of Yash Raj Films, one of the biggest production houses in the country. Director Kabir Khan, who has a good track record of delivering good commercial cinema (Kabul Express and New York), was perhaps caught between the contrasting styles of the superstar and the production house and came up with a compromise to suit both.
The common thread running through all of Khan’s last three Eid releases – Wanted, Dabangg and Bodyguard – are his antics aimed at his fans, and his machismo. Note: in his introductory scenes, the actor never runs. In Wanted and Dabangg, he emphatically shuts a godown before beating up the baddies. In stark contrast, in ETT, the introductory scene shows Khan running instead of fighting with ISI operatives. Sure, he matches fist for fist and kills them but the Salman Khan stamp and charm is sorely missing.
No doubt, the initial action scene reminds you of the one in the Bourne Ultimatum (even the location is dead similar) and is superbly handled. While those who have watched it in the Bourne Ultimatum will not be impressed and those who are used to Salman Khan’s typical action will reject it outright.
Again, harking back to Khan’s earlier super-hits (Wanted, Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard), they may have had failed the screenplay test but their basic plot (full-on commercial) and dialogue (aimed mainly at masses with Salman Khan flavor) were their trump cards. Ek Tha Tiger totters on all three pillars of a movie – story, screenplay and dialogue. Neither does the story have any dum nor does screenplay exhibit any consistency. Dialogue is the worst and is neither reminiscent of Salman Khan nor Yash Raj Films.
So what works in favour of the film? Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and, once again, Salman Khan. Just like Khan’s four successful films, this one too will be remembered for its star pull at the ticket window. This despite the fact that there’s nothing to applaud in the film except for the lead pair! As for music, which plays a pivotal role in a thriller, is a BIG disappointment here.
Casting Khan as a RAW agent sounds interesting on paper but the presentation does not match up. Here, his character is not larger-than-life, which is decidedly odd. When you compare this film with successful films of yesteryear, based on intelligence agents, they were leagues ahead of Ek Tha Tiger in terms of presentation and style. So what still works for the film is Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and, once again, Salman Khan.
Here’s the story: The film is about a RAW agent, Avinash Singh Rathod, who lives in disguise as a government employee, in New Delhi. He leaves for Dublin to keep an eye on a scientist of Indian origin and meets a girl called Zoya, an ISI agent (in disguise, obviously), who is working with the scientist as a part-time home caretaker and a student. They fall in love. What follows forms the crux of the film.
Since the film is about a RAW agent falling in love with an ISI agent, the romance between the two is implausible and lacks appeal. Besides, there’s no spark between the two actors, which is apparent on screen. In fact, when they cast professional interests aside for personal reasons, it leaves you cold. Since their liaison is minus any spark, their bold decision is difficult to digest. This is a huge disappointment and is a major drawback in the film. But, again, what works here is Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and, once again, Salman Khan.
Also, the film is replete with cinematic liberties. Khan is asked to keep an eye on a scientist and is warned not to enter his house to steal evidence. Later, he’s instructed to barge into the scientist house. Absurd! At the interval, the writer-director tries to drum up some suspense but they don’t succeed. The so-called shocking moments in the second half of the film too do not impress.
The introductory action scene is followed by Khan’s entry to Dublin, after which the film moves at snail’s pace and drags at several points. The train fight is brilliantly executed but it lacks zing. Even the climax action scenes are brilliantly captured but they lack the Salman Khan tadka. Yet again, this film works for three reasons – Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and, once again, Salman Khan.
After delivering two movies – both critically and commercially acclaimed – Kabul Express and New York, Kabir Khan fails this time in every department of filmmaking. He has managed to extract some beautiful music in New York but this time, despite managing to cast two of the industry’s biggest actors, he has failed even in the music department. A sheer disappointment from Kabir Khan. Cinematography is superb. Editing could have been better. Background music is good in places.
Performance-wise, even though this is Salman Khan’s film from the word ‘go’, the actor is not in his element at few places. Katrina Kaif delivers her best performance to date. She looks stunning and also manages to impress in the action scenes. Ranvir Shorey is all right. Girish Karnad is just about okay. Roshan Seth has nothing much to do. The rest of the cast lend adequate support.
Verdict: The presence of Salman Khan has helped the film take a gigantic start but once the excitement subsides, collections will nosedive. Still, ETT will easily cross the Rs 100-crore mark. A super-hit!