When we come upon him first in his second film, ‘Baaghi’, we see Tiger Shroff upside down, balancing his full weight on a thumb and forefinger. It is an impressive sight, to see someone so fit, so agile, so much in command of his body.
It is the money shot of the film. Whenever we see Tiger doing something that involves his hands, legs, torso, head, all moving in perfect sync, scything up, slashing down, revolving on the balls of his feet, we are watching: it is a pleasure to see this young actor move, no jerk, all flow. When he is in action, that is. When he is ‘acting’, he is still clearly a novice.
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But he makes up for that lack by being likeable, even when he is being forced to act like a rebel just so he can justify the film’s title, in the first half of the film. Ronny (Tiger Shroff) shows up at a ‘kalari’ (a Kerala martial arts school which teaches the ancient art of ‘kalaripayattu’) in order to hone his rough edges. The process of transformation– from aimless ‘baaghi’ to a rebel with a cause– is familiar from many similar films, but there’s enough to keep us engaged through the interactions with a ramrod straight `guru’, who puts the young fellow through his paces.
Post interval, there’s a sharp slide. The action moves from picturesque Kerala to seamy Bangkok, where the film’s borrowings (apparently it is based on an Indonesian actioner, as well as a Telugu film) starts weighing heavily upon it. The bad guy, played by Telugu star Sudheer Babu, is also a martial arts champion, and has an eye on Sia (Shradhha), the girl that Ronny likes. He has an army of goons, all of whom are pointed at Ronny, and let loose.
All stabs at a stale plot are abandoned, as staler formula takes over: the good guy clashes with the bad guy over the ‘bubbly’ girl who dances, wetly, in the rain ( she loves ‘baarish’, see?), is saddled with a father who is more joker than responsible dad (played by TV comic Sunil Grover), and a mum and grandma who hover uselessly in the background. A couple of comedians show up and bumble around annoyingly, slowing the pace.
Shraddha Kapoor is slender and pretty and executes both the ‘chham chham’ in the rain as well as some roundhouse kicks and punches well enough, but is fashioned like a Bollywood heroine belonging to the potboilers of the 70s and 80s. She isn’t dragged by the hair like the leading lady of ‘Heropanti’, Tiger’s debut (also directed by Sabbir Khan) but does everything else – simper, smile, and squeal in the villain’s den.
Why does a film with a new hero, who can reveal a beautifully muscled chest, and do such jaw-dropping stunts, not go for broke and create freshness all around?
I enjoyed the first half, and yawned through the much-too-long-drawn second.
Director : Sabbir Khan
Cast : Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Sudheer Babu, Sunil Grover