The sequel to 2012’s Ek Tha Tiger – Tiger Zinda Hai has the same leads with a different director. But in a Salman Khan movie, other people don’t matter as much right? Or so I thought. Tiger Zinda Hai, refreshingly has a great female lead in the form of Katrina Kaif, playing ISI agent Zoya. While her badassary has already been established in the original movie, in this film, we get to see Katrina (and surprisingly only Katrina) feature in some spectacular action sequences, proving that an Indian adaptation of Wonder Woman has found its potential lead.
There’s Salman too of course, looking great as always. He makes his entry with a long action sequence where he and his son (who is called Junior, and I hope for his sake that this is just a nickname, else homeschooling is the best option for this kid) fight off a pack of direwolves. You could honestly mistake Tiger for having Stark blood (hello, Game of Thrones fans) because of the natural control he seems to have on these animals. Anyway, Salman is the kickass superhero RAW agent Avinash Singh Rathore who is fondly called Tiger by his people. At least thrice in the movie, Salman’s good looks, his charisma and his “sharp eyes” have been praised.
The plot is interesting – 40 nurses (25 Indian and 15 Pakistani) are held in captive at a hospital in Iraq, which has been taken over by ISC, a terrorist outfit based on ISIS. The main bad guy, Abu Usman (Sajjad Delfrooz) says that he turned into an extremist because of the way he, a poetry professor in the USA, was treated due to his Muslim identity. He’s not the most effective leader though as Tiger and his team comprising of a sniper, a bomb diffuser and an unconventional tech guy who loves Lord Hanuman, manage to infiltrate his headquarters pretty easily. Paresh Rawal plays an important role too, but his presence is quite grating, which is sad because he is one of the finest actors we have.
The problem with Tiger Zinda Hai is that despite being based in a war-torn nation with threats of getting bombed from every quarter, there is no conflict. Tiger is constantly at odds with his superiors, but that doesn’t affect any of his decisions. A potential discord within his team is immediately resolved. RAW and ISI get together for the greater good after making some pop-culture references that are funny in both countries. Despite all the beatings, violence and bombings, there are nearly no casualties. Tiger Zinda Hai is too convenient, maybe because all of us know that nothing will or can happen to Salman Khan.
But that doesn’t mean that movie is not worth a watch and it also doesn’t mean that my opinion will stop it from becoming a 1000 crore blockbuster. It’s a fun movie with every action sequence getting the ‘blockbuster’ treatment and Salman being Rambo. The best part for me was Katrina kicking ass. She’s graceful, gorgeous and tough and in my humble opinion, the real star of this movie. Ali Abbas Zafar now has another blockbuster to his name after last year’s Sultan. The good thing about both his films are that the female leads are strong. That’s not saying much, but with the kind of reach big-budget Bollywood films have in the country, it’s nice to see that the female protagonist is not used as decoration or just a body for the hero to hold during song breaks. This could hopefully change many mindsets. I mean, one can only hope.