The Kabir Khan directed ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was a special film. Apart from marking the first collaboration between one of the biggest stars in Indian cinema and the leading production house of the country, the film was several notches above the kind off templatized action potboilers Khan was doing (and tasting success with) one after the other. It had everything for an average Salman Khan fan (including a blink-and-you-miss shirtless scene that seemed to have been the result of a last minute thought) but the production values, slickness and the overall look of the film had Yash Raj Films’ stamp over it, something that was missing in the kind of films the actor was doing at that time. The ending of the film had enough scope for a sequel to be spawned out of the film. Five years later, we have got a sequel and it is called ‘Tiger Zinda Hai.’
Twenty-five Indian nurses and fifteen Pakistani nurses are kidnapped by Abu Usman (Sajjad Delafrooz), the head of the terrorist outfit ISC. The forty nurses are asked to stay put in the same hospital they work in and are given the task to treat Abu Usman who has injured himself seriously. When the Indian Government gets a whiff of this incident, they decide to undertake a mission to rescue the twenty-five Indian nurses. Shenoy (Girish Karnad), the chief of RAW, gets to know that America is planning an airstrike on Irkit, Syria to get rid of Abu Usman and his terror outfit. Shenoy gets in touch with the head of the crime fighting unit in America, who is in charge of carrying out the airstrike and asks him to delay the airstrike for some time as they need to get the nurses out of the hospital. The head of the unit says that he can delay the attack for seven days. With a limited time-frame in hand and a dangerous mission to accomplish, Shenoy realises it is time to bring Tiger (Salman Khan) back from the dead.
‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ is set eight years after Tiger and Zoya (Katrina Kaif) assumed fake identities and started moving from one place to another, so that they could stay together. Tiger’s entry scene and the song “Dil Diyan Gallan” help the viewer in recollecting the events that happened eight years ago and setting the tone for the film. After that, one gets to see Tiger forming a team to rescue the nurses, Zoya arriving with her ex-colleagues to lend help and some brilliantly executed action pieces that keep you thoroughly engaged. The film has a length of two hours and forty minutes but you do not feel bored for a minute. The writers (story: Neelesh Misra and Ali Abbas Zafar, screenplay and dialogues: Ali Abbas Zafar) have done their research well and it is reflected by the kind of information meted out to the viewer throughout the film. The film takes a strong stance on the relations between India and Pakistan and the message comes across very well.
Despite the brisk pace and being thoroughly engaging, the film hits a few speed bumps when Zafar takes too many creative liberties and at times, throws logic out of the window. Though it is not integral to the plot, one would have liked to know what did Tiger and Zoya do to earn a living for themselves after giving up on their respective jobs as RAW and ISI agents. They seem to be leading a fairly lavish lifestyle, so where does the money come from? The ease with which Tiger and his team execute their plans seems too convenient at times. Despite being one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, Abu Usman lets go of the chance to kill Tiger on more than one occasion.
Ali Abbas Zafar proves that he has a very good knowledge of and taken to write, mount and make a big commercial entertainer. He seems to be getting better with every film and shows that he is one of the few directors around who can be confidently entrusted with the job of making a true blue Hindi entertainer with a big, commercial star. A special mention must be made of the brilliant dialogues that he has written himself. Vishal and Shekhar have delivered a very good soundtrack but two songs (“Zinda Hai” and “Daata Tu”) have not been used in the film. “Dil Diyan Gallan” shows the dynamics of the relationship shared between Tiger and Zoya and “Tera Noor” ups the energy of the action sequence it played to. Even the promotional track “Swag Se Swagat”, which appears in the end credits, comes across as a good song to end the film with. Julius Packiam’s background score is equally effective. Marcin Laskawiec’s camerawork is top-notch.
Salman Khan charms his way through the film without making too much of an effort to deliver a layered performance. Katrina Kaif delivers her career best performance in this film. She looks every bit of the feisty agent she plays. Sajjad Delafrooz makes a powerful debut as Abu Usman. It will be interesting to see what kind of roles he picks up after this film. Girish Karnad, despite a brief appearance, makes Shenoy comes across as the impregnable RAW chief he is supposed to be. Paresh Rawal is very good as Firdaus. Anant Vidhaat, who played Salman’s friend in ‘Sultan’, gets a few good scenes and dialogues to leave a mark with. Kumud Mishra, Angad Bedi and Paresh Pahuja play their parts well. Out of all the actresses plying nurses, Anupriya Gienka and Kashmira Irani stand out.
‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ is a hugely entertaining film in which the director has also tried to tell a story that could have been difficult to narrate in a standard commercial film. He blends in the authenticity of a well-researched espionage thriller and an escapist commercial fare in good proportions and delivers a solid entertainer.