Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Angad Bedi, Kumud Mishra, Sajjad Delafrooz and Paresh Rawal
Ali Abbas Zafar’s Tiger Zinda Hai is an out and out Salman Khan-film and tailor-made for his loyal fan base who wouldn’t miss the film for the world. But that also is the saddest part of the film in that we’ve reduced an actor to just being a ‘superstar’.
A sequel to 2012’s Ek Tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai picks up from where the first film left off. Somewhere in Austria, Tiger (Salman Khan) is now a married man living with wife Zoya (Katrina Kaif) and son Junior. Both stars reprise their roles as spy agents for RAW and ISI respectively and when 40 nurses (25 Indian and 15 Pakistani) are taken hostage in Iraq by religious extremist group ISIL, Chief Shenoy (Girish Karnad) hunts Tiger down and assigns him the job of rescuing Indian nurses. Upon a little convincing by Zoya, Tiger sets out on the mission and forms his special team, comprising of actors Angad Bedi, Paresh Pahuja and Kumud Mishra. Events unfold and Zoya and her team join in and the rescue mission is now a joint venture between RAW and ISI. How the teams unite and devise several strategies to free the nurses make up the basic plot of the film.
It’s a fact that Salman Khan’s loyal fan base doesn’t necessarily look at a film plot or its lack thereof but buy the ticket to see their hero pulling off some unbelievable stunts and delivering some whistle-worthy dialogues. And Zafar, who has previously helmed Sultan, co-starring Salman and Anushka, knows the audience quite well and serves them just what they’ll like- a savior in the face of Salman bhai. The entire film is an out and out Salman-film wherein he does all that he wishes to and all that was possible in the hands of filmmakers and yet remains unharmed. He does what he does the best and like his fans would say, Salman is in his element throughout. What his element is, however, remains a separate topic of debate.
The initial scenes wherein Salman and Katrina share the frame are warm and family-like. But Katrina, who opts for a rather straight face throughout the film, barring one or two scenes, only shines when she throws a punch or perhaps in the song Dil Diyan Galan wherein she looks gorgeous. That’s all. As an ISI agent set out on a mission, one’d have expected a lot more screen time for Zoya but alas.
The supporting cast, too, holds their own in whatever little screen time and dialogues they get alongside Salman. Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz, who plays ISC Commissioner Abu Usman, does a fine job but his fluency in both English and Hindi, turns out a little disturbing for the character. While Paresh Rawal as Firdaus is a delight and evokes chuckles every time he’s on screen.
Much that makes Tiger Zinda Hai a far from unbearable watch includes its technical finesse. The film, which isn’t bad per se, rides high on high-octane action sequences and there’s plenty of them. While some of which are amusing, some are too far-fetched. Right in the first half, Tiger battles a pack of wolves, rides a horse, jumps terraces and begins to take on ISIS alone until of course, Zoya joins. But having said that, the well-tuned combination of chase sequences and the background score make the action impactful. The technical finesse of camerawork, cinematography and the entire post-production rounds it up to a visual delight and makes it difficult for you to take eyes off the screen.
Over the years, Salman has established himself as a super-star who fans only expect a certain kind of entertainment from and Zafar has categorically cashed in on Salman’s heroic figure- both onscreen and offscreen- and in a way, reduced the real-life incident of 46 nurses taken hostage in Iraq to a hero-worship story with strong bits of patriotism and Indo-Pak ties thrown. As a spy thriller set in the world of espionage, cinegoers might have felt better with more thrills and less of Salman’s heroic presence but nevertheless, the film might give them the potboiler entertainment they’ve been searching for in the year that saw the likes of Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal and Salman Khan’s Tubelight come crashing down at the box office.