“Baaghi 3.”… Tiger Shroff’s one-man-army show is content to stay at a ‘hmm…not bad’ level

Posted on March 8, 2020

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The action set-ups are spectacular. But the lack of variety in the moves kills a lot of the stunts, along with the relentless slo-mo.

Spoilers ahead…

There’s a bad, bad man who lives in Syria. He’s built for himself a mini-city, guarded by tanks and choppers and a lot of big men with bigger muscles. He has families kidnapped from India and Pakistan, and he holds the children hostage until the fathers agree to become suicide bombers. It’s a story that’s ripped right out of the headlines… of an issue of Indrajal Comics. But one day, he finds that his army is being destroyed. He’s angry. He wants to know who’s behind it all. He roars: “America? Russia?” Hell, no! As though Trump or Putin have the time, especially with the elections coming up!

It’s Tiger Shroff, of course! One of Muhammad Ali’s most famous quotes, one that came to define his style in the ring, is: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. With Jackie Shroff Jr., it would be: “Swivel like a ballerina, pose like a tree”. His trunk is perfectly V-shaped. His signature move is to execute a perfect pirouette and stop with a mid-air kick, with his limbs extended like branches — and the bad guys drop like rotten apples. Such is Tiger’s commitment to this mantra that he even emotes like a tree. Shove his reaction shots into a wood-chipper and you’ll end up with a nice little box of matches.

He plays Ronnie in Ahmed Khan’s Baaghi 3, a remake of N Lingusamy’s enjoyable Vettai, where Madhavan and Arya played inseparable brothers. The same dynamic is echoed here, with Vikram (Riteish Deshmukh) and Ronnie, who live in Agra. If possible, this set of siblings is even closer — the Taj may have been built for them. Vikram, like the Madhavan character, is a scaredy-cat. Ronnie is, well, a tiger. When Vikram becomes a cop and is sent off on dangerous assignments, Ronnie steps in and flexes his biceps and beats up the bad guys. Vikram returns with the credit and is hailed a hero. In other words, Vikram’s reputation is a bhai-product of Ronnie’s exploits.

Shraddha Kapoor and a barely-there Ankita Lokhande play sisters Sia and Ruchi, paired up with these brothers. In an early scene, Sia mocks the idea of the movie hero who makes an entry in slow-motion and beats up twenty men all by himself. The next second, Ronnie does exactly this thing. Baaghi 3 is aware of its ridiculousness, which is a good thing, given that it’s essentially a “one-man army” plot. I was reminded of a line from First Blood, the original one-man army movie, where the incredulous bad cop tells the Sylvester Stallone character’s handler: “Are you telling me that two hundred of our men against your boy is a no-win situation for us?” Mister, let me tell you about this man called Rajinikanth.

Baaghi 3 has some solid cheesy-good stretches — a bit involving Jaideep Ahlawat and a landmine, or just the sight of Vijay Varma in the kind of comic role Amjad Khan played after he got tired of playing villains. They’re both terrific. This is range. But the rest of Baaghi 3 is content to remain at a generic, hmm…not bad level. The action set-ups are spectacular. One sequence unfolds in the midst of stacked cars, with a near-horizontal Ronnie breaking into a run like a Well of Death bike. As long as he’s in motion, Tiger is amazing — a bona fide star. But the lack of variety in the choreography kills a lot of the stunts, along with the relentless slo-mo posturing. Our action franchises could be called The Slow and the Spurious.

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi