Sallu’s back in ‘action'.
The high stunts which captivated audiences in Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard are back, with high gloss, high drama and an espionage track incorporated for added effect. Salman fans will be left gasping for more.
The plot: “Tum RAW ho, main ISI…hamari duty hamein saath nahi rehne degi”: these lines by a distraught Zoya (Katrina Kaif) sums up the central dilemma in a nutshell. She’s an ISI agent, now head-over-heels in love with Tiger (Salman Khan) who’s a RAW agent.
They meet for the first time while on a mission in Ireland. Both have been assigned the task of keeping an eye on professor Anwar Jamal Kidwai (Roshan Seth). Initially antagonistic, both mask their hostility by adopting the inevitable ploy of faking romance to accomplish their respective missions. But soon they fulfil the prediction made by Gopi (Ranvir Shorey), a colleague and friend of Tiger, by falling in love with each other like a ton of bricks.
That’s when the excitement mounts, as they choose an obstacle-filled path, chasing and hiding from RAW and ISI at the same time.
The good: Finally, a semblance of a story from a Salman Khan film. The story’s a gripping one, by Aditya Chopra, with screenplay and dialogues by Kabir Khan and Neelesh Misra. The lines and plot keep you engaged despite the weepie quotient.
For Salman fans there are several ceetee moments, especially in the beginning where the star’s entry is heralded by a cloud of cigarette smoke and a puff of ash. Those ‘slow motion’ punches and kicks are sure to have the crowd howling for more. The Khan’s stunningly speedy, slick action sequences and parkour-inspired stunts erupt explosively and are a notch above his previous action scenes in earlier films. Not to be outdone, Katrina too launches into parkour and it’s fun watching them both, fists flying, as they plunge into goon-bashing galore. Action consultant Conrad Palmisano effectively creates a mix of logic-defying, yet entertaining and riveting fight sequences.
The music is apt. Sohail Sen and Sajid-Wajid have come up with a passable album, with the track ‘Mashallah’ reigning all the way.
The performances are impactful despite the brittle script. Ranvir Shorey provides plenty of amusing moments. Girish Karnad as Shenoy (Tiger’s Boss) does a neat job. Salman’s impressive as always, but somehow Katrina is unconvincing as a female spy. She just ain’t tough enough.
The bad: Treason, trauma, betrayal, double-crossing... one does expect all this and more from spy films, especially ones with fancy names like ISI and RAW, but this one doesn’t deliver on such a scale. The plot may be gripping, but there aren’t many surprises. In fact it’s even slightly cheesy, unusual considering the YRF banner. A few more twists and turns would have been in order.
Also, the action slows down inexplicably in the second half and moves with ant-like speed. Those clap-gathering slow motion sequences are taken a bit too seriously.
Even Aditya Chopra’s script has its share of loopholes. One of the most glaring lacunae is when Tiger and Zoya fight the goons at Havana when they suddenly realize they are being captured on CCTV. Instead of swiftly fleeing the spot, these ‘experienced spies’ continue to hang around mystifyingly in that very public place.
The finale is abrupt and the story ends on an unfinished note, making the viewer feel that director Kabir Khan directly shot the scene on page 98 after page 82. A chunk of story appears to be missing, with the happy ending tacked on.
Overall: Entertainment guaranteed for action-seeking Salman fans. The tiger hasn’t changed his stripes.
– Pooja Thakkar