By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Tiger Zinda Hai”; Director: Ali Abbas Zafar; Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sajjad Delfrooz, Sudeep Zahir, Angad Bedi, Kumud Mishra, Girish Karnad, Paresh Rawal; Rating: **1/2
“Tiger Zinda Hai” is the sequel to the 2012 released, Kabir Khan directed, “Ek Tha Tiger”. Designed purely for Salman Khan fans, “Tiger Zinda Hai” is elegantly and stylishly made by writer director Ali Abbas Zafar. It is nothing short of an effervescent cocktail of spy thrillers, except that the fizz is mild and evaporating.
The tale takes off eight years from where it left in the last edition, sometime in 1993 just after the Gulf War.
RAW agent Tiger is now married to his Pakistani girlfriend Zoya who is an ISI agent. He has a 7 year old son, whom he fondly calls Junior. He lives a domesticated life in the wilderness of the snowclad mountains of the Austrian Alps, where he literally fights wolves who try to prey on him and his son.
In faraway Ikrit a small town in Iraq close to the Turkish border, the Islamic fundamentalists have taken over the place. They behead a journalist and are holding a few Americans as hostages. Amidst this chaos, the lives of twenty five Indian and fifteen Pakistani nurses working in a hospital there, are in peril.
The Americans are ready to bombard Ikrit, but the Indian government intervenes in order to protect the nurses who are stranded there. The Americans grant the Indian Government seven days to evacuate the nurses and on the eighth day they would attack the town.
Under such strained conditions, Shenoy, the head of RAW, can think of only one person who could rescue the nurses. He is Tiger. Shenoy and his assistant Karan track Tiger and cajole him to serve the country with, “Desh ki izzat ki baat hai, baaki, you know better”
It goes without saying, Tiger puts up a team and with patriotic fervour he lands up in Ikrit where he does the needful. We understood what Salman did and why he did it, but the rescue drama definitely seems contrived, to befit his star status. Needless to say, Zoya along with her ISI team, joins him in this mission too.
While the hostages are in a desperate condition, their rescuers and those holding them are too busy with sermonising about India-Pakistan brotherhood and the need to fight and by the end, the film loses its credibility.
The phrase, “Abhi Tiger zinda hai,” is oft repeated to give the audience an assurance that more impactful action is in store for them. And lo and behold, the blasts, gunshots and chase scenes truly hold your attention.
On the performance front, Salman Khan tries his best to be charismatic and succeeds momentarily. His action scenes seem laboured. On the other hand Katrina Kaif seems to have been resurrected. While her onscreen chemistry with Salman is passable, she excels in her action sequences. In fact she holds your attention with her quick moves and agility, especially when she is fencing.
It is Sajjad Delfrooz as the fundamentalist Abu Usman who is arresting and intriguing, but this being a star-focussed film, he is short-changed.
Accompanying Tiger are Angad Bedi as Namit Khanna the bomb defusing expert, Paresh Pahuja as the sniper Azam and Kumud Mishra as the tech expert Rakesh. They are impressive and have their moments of onscreen glory.
Paresh Rawal as Theuban who is also known as Firdaus is his usual self. As the slimy Indian labour agent in Ikrit, he is expressive but does not make an impact.
Visually the film is exorbitant. The frames are extravagant and aesthetically well-mounted. The final song with the lyrics “Swag se karenge sabka swagat” is frolicsome, but it dissipates the seriousness of the tale, making the entire film seem just like another frivolous masala film.