It is Monday and after a little Diwali break, it is business as usual for us. But before that, we wish you a Happy Diwali and A Prosperous New Year and hope that peace and love prevails everywhere. And the big Diwali highlight this year was the film touted as the new addition to the YRF Spy Universe, the fifth installment of the Universe and the third in its own franchise. With that, I finished watching the new Salman Khan starrer Tiger 3 with a lot of hope, given that I had thoroughly enjoyed Pathaan. With all the cameos listed, I was quite looking forward to watching the latest spy thriller, but more importantly, I wished to watch the progress of Salman Khan who just hasn’t been in any kind of form lately.
With substandard products like Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, Race 3 or even Radhe, the actor needed a new lease of life to bounce back. And what better than returning as Tiger, a role that he had briefly shown form during his appearance in Pathaan. The ‘Tiger’ franchise has been one of the highlights of the YRF Spy Universe with my personal favourite being Tiger Zinda Hai. I recall watching the film in a packed house at Gaiety Galaxy(the Mumbai folks would be aware of this), and the kind of atmosphere that was created was simply mind-blowing. That film stands tall in an otherwise sorry filmography of Salman Khan in the past few years which is why I was excited for Tiger 3 and the return of our OG Salman. So then does Tiger 3 manage to impress, let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Written by Aditya Chopra and Shridhar Raghavan, Tiger 3 follows the story of Tiger and Zoya who face another challenge in the form of an enemy who brings with him two choices – either choose family or the country. Will Tiger find a way out? Now, if you are expecting something drastically different in the YRF Spy Universe then you aren’t getting served that. The story is pretty routine and it seemed like a mishmash between Pathaan, Badshah and other similar films on those lines. Yet, the presence of Tiger definitely makes you sit up and take notice of the proceedings. The screenplay standing at a shade above a 150 minutes isn’t entire smooth with the transitions as well while deftly threatening to completely scatter the proceedings. Yet, there are moments which are watchable that save the drama to a large extent.
The drama opens with a flashback that briefly touches upon the early life of Zoya and her encounter with Aatish, who is the prime antagonist of the drama, after her father’s death. Soon, you are introduced to Tiger in grand fashion and he makes his way to a rescue mission that eventually acts as a catalyst for the drama to follow. I did like how the writer’s tied a thread from the first installment of the franchise, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ with respect to one of the characters, to fuel the narrative ahead. A tense chase followed by a staggering revelation, nicely sets the tone of the drama to follow. But there are roadblocks along the way as well.
The main issue that the proceeding suffers from is the lack of novelty in the writing. It is a little bit of the same stuff that you may have already watched previously, something that does add to the fatigue factor in the drama. But to be fair, the drama does move at a break neck pace that briefly diverts your attention from the predictability of it. There are plenty of moments, fairly engaging that do manage to draw your attention to the proceedings. A little context on the brief encounter between Aatish and Tiger as a part of a mini flashback, does add weightage to the drama while slowly raising the stakes as well. But if I were to look from an overview, tge beats of Tiger are similar to Pathaan in a rather uncanny manner of resemblance. This includes the interval block featuring a titillating Towel Sequence that felt out of place in a spy thriller, more gimmicky than otherwise.
Yet, I was waiting for the Pathaan cameo that eventually takes place in the second half. And to be honest, watching SRK and Salman together onscreen was fun but it didn’t quite give me the same high that the duo had earlier in the year, when Tiger had entered the Pathaan-verse. The faltered staging of the action sequences coupled with some forced humour doesn’t quite give you the same kind of high. But things, although one-dimensional, are staged a little better in the second hour as compared to the first hour. There are several high moments including the elaborate rescue mission that may not have been perfect but it still had enough ingredients to keep you invested with some twists and turns that will catch you by surprise. And the end credit scene by Hrithik Roshan just sets the ball rolling for War 2 perfectly. Overall, the screenplay is decently penned that essentially suffers from its predictability while still held together by its characters.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are decent but some of the marquee lines that would have instilled a sense of nostalgia is missing. The music works in the drama, although individually the songs aren’t memorable. The unsung hero for me is the pulsating BGM that tries to create an adrenaline rush in almost every scene. And at times, it is the BGM that uplifts the writing as well, elevating some of the average scenes into something watchable. The cinematography was quite good as well, and the shaking frames really gelled well with the action set pieces. This aspect was missing in some of Salman Khan’s previous films particularly in the action sequences with the complaint being that he cannot move with agility. This was one way of elevating the action set-pieces that was smartly integrated in the drama.
I liked the lighting and the production design as well. In a scene, Aatish is talking to his friend with green lights pouring around him. This was in sync with his character imagining ‘Green’ to rule his nation as indicated by him in a previous scene. The editing is decent throughout the narrative. Director Maneesh Sharma, best remembered for his work in Band Baaja Baaraat, does a middling job here with the execution. You would have to say that he couldn’t quite tap into the starpower of SRK or even Salman to an extent which would have elevated the drama further. But to be fair to him, some of the sequences are mounted well and he does show some form there. In other words, this was a mixed kind of an outing from him.
The performances are quite good here. It is always a pleasure to watch SRK onscreen and he works his charm here as Pathaan quite well even though his sequences were not staged very well. Danish Bhat as Javed and Anant Vidhaat as Karan have their moments to shine, as do veterans like Ranvir Shorey, Revathy, Danish Husain and Aamir Bashir despite a limited screentime. Shahid Lateef as General Haq is decent, Chandrachoor Rai as Nikhil, Vishal Jethwa as Hassan(incredibly good) and Kumud Mishra as Rakesh are first rate. Ridhi Dogra as Shaheen has a great presence onscreen and she manages to impress despite a limited screen time. Simran as Nasreen is well restrained and does a good job.
Emraan Hashmi as Aatish is just wonderful to watch with his sinister expressions and his spectacular act. I just wished he was given a little more screen time in the middle to add layers to his character. Also, his origin story would be another interesting idea for a spin-off for his character. Katrina Kaif as Zoya does a good job while excelling in combat sequences. Yet, I did feel that her character in Tiger Zinda Hai was better written as compared to the one-note(to an extent) of her character here.
The good news with respect to Tiger 3 is that Salman Khan has finally shown some form here. His body language and dead pan expressions work well in his favour here but it is his massive screen presence that drives the film here. These are the roles that suit him more and it would further help if he starts working with the bew crop of directors while completely surrending to their vision. Tiger 3 is a good start and it is upwards and onwards from here.
Tiger 3 is a decent addition to the YRF Spy Universe despite adding nothing to the novelty factor. Overall, ‘Timepass’ it is! Available in a theatre near you.