Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ek Tha Tiger...

When you’ve been waiting for a movie as long as I’ve been waiting for Ek Tha Tiger there is the very real danger of being disappointed. Sky high expectations are not my preferred viewing partner at the movies but I put my trust in Kabir Khan and he rewarded me with an action packed spy flick! Ek Tha Tiger, the third of Kabir’s Pakistan Trilogy, is much more subdued masala than Salman has delivered recently - no item song, no comedy subplot, no villain.

And a word of warning to viewers - please try to see this without spoilers. It’s worth it. I’ll be as vague as possible in my review but I can’t really talk about the film without revealing something that is better discovered for yourself.

That thing is not the presence of Ranvir Shorey, who I am happy to tell you - spoiler free - is a welcome face!

Ek Tha Tiger begins as the story of “Tiger” (Salman Khan) - R.A.W. agent and all-around badass. He shoots to kill and cares about nothing and nobody outside of his job. All of that changes when he gets assigned to Dublin to tail one Dr. Kidwai (the always delightful Roshan Seth, who we last saw being too classy for that piece of shit Trishna) to make sure he’s not selling military secrets to the Pakistanis. His pal Gopi (a bearded Ranvir Shorey) comes along to help. Tiger tries to keep his mind on the mission but he finds himself falling hard for Dr. Kidwai’s student helper Zoya (Katrina Kaif) and misses a critical piece of information. We end the first half on a cliffhanger - is Zoya dead? Is Tiger responsible?

(This is your last chance to have an important plot element remain unspoiled.)

Post-interval Tiger is reunited with Zoya - who has been reunited with her co-workers in Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. And we enter delicious Dhoom 2 territory as the couple deceive each other and their intelligence agencies as plot twist follows plot twist. Who is working for whom? Will Tiger betray his country? Will Zoya? Can this love across enemy lines succeed?

Let me get the one negative point out of the way first and then I’ll talk about all the good stuff.

Katrina, darling, I adore you but please stop with the fillers and botox. The “Bollywood Barbie” tag isn’t supposed to be literal!

She actually wasn’t too bad through most of the film but there were a handful of places where you could tell that she could barely move her face. It was really distracting. I kept trying to figure out if she had the botox done at the beginning of film and it gradually wore off or if she shot for a few weeks and then decided to botox it up before the song picturizations. I think it was the latter but I could be wrong.

Anyways, yes, Katrina is looking plastic.*

With that out of the way, let’s talk Tiger!

I loved this film.

The first half is more masala with comedy, action, romance, and drama but the second half is all romantic spy-thriller. It’s an interesting style choice but it works. We’re prepped by the masala romance in the first half to accept that Tiger and Zoya would risk their lives for each other in the second half. And all of this is set against some wonderfully rich Kabir Khan cinematography. He has a real eye for scene composition and we get visual treats like Zoya and Tiger’s first post-interval meeting. As a Pakistani delegation and Indian delegation walk towards each other, there are just hints of a red scarf floating in and out of frame on the Pakistani side. Keep in mind that we (and Tiger) think Zoya is dead but that red scarf... The delegations stop and face each other and as one of the Pakistanis moves aside we see Zoya... in a red scarf. It was really well done.

Kabir Khan also has a great eye for faces, which I really appreciate. Not only do we get a solid supporting cast with Roshan Seth and Ranvir Shorey but the junior artistes are a wonderful bunch - Zoya gets a multi-racial cast of friends; Tiger ogles a ginger-headed lady; there is a bank teller with some amazing penciled eyebrows. Clearly the junior artistes were picked with purpose and it’s that level of detail that makes a Kabir Khan film special.

He isn’t just on top of the visuals but also manages to pull wonderful performances out of Katrina and Salman, who have never had chemistry before in anything. Ever. Salman gives the best performance I’ve seen from him since Jaan-e-Mann. He sinks his teeth into Tiger and melts right into Kabir’s more naturalistic style of filmmaking. Salman knows when to take Tiger into filmi territory and he knows when to pull back. It’s really a wonderful performance. Katrina - aside from the occasional facial freeze - is very charming. She nails both the emotion and the action.

Yes, I said action.

Because I saved the best for last - Zoya isn’t just a pretty plot device, she’s a spy and that means she can come up with plots and dishoom some bad guys if necessary. When Tiger and Zoya join forces, they really become equal partners in crime. Zoya not only plans things but she gets to run, jump, hit people, do badass stunts, and wear sensible shoes. Nobody puts Katrina in a corner. There is one part where she slides on her knees under this guy trying to shoot her and it’s awesome.

I cannot wait to see what she’ll get to do in Dhoom 3.

Ek Tha Tiger is exactly as advertised - Kabir Khan style masala. It’s a fun film, with some satisfying emotional undercurrents and beautiful visuals. It doesn’t give the full-contact masala high of something like Endhiran. Ek Tha Tiger is more like a nice glass of red wine - subtle, rich, and just what the doctor ordered after a long week of work.

*Who can we get to stage an intervention? Aamir and Saif have gotten their own surgeries. And we’ve already seen Ajay’s influence on Kangana, so it’s no use calling him. Akshay? He seems to like the natural look.

2 comments:

Jess said...

I hope someone stages an intervention for Katrina, it was disappointing in scenes when you could tell she just couldn't emote.

Loved the beginning and the end of the movie, but the pacing in the middle was jerky and didn't work for me.

I liked Katrina and Salman's chemistry. (I thought it was good in Wallah Re Wallah and Bodyguard too) But they really didn't get a whole lot of time to be romantic in this movie. Their fight scenes were awesome though...kinda wish they'd fought each other at the end of the first half...a la Mr. and Mrs. Smith but oh well.

Anyway, I want Rocket for myself, and I wish I had never seen whatever that play was that Zoya put on...it scarred me for life. I'd say its an enjoyable movie, but not my favorite of either actor if you discount the final action sequences.

CoffeeQueen said...

I'm trying really hard to enjoy Katrina. ETT didn't do anything to help my disconnect with her performances.

I second the intervention idea.

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