Movie Moment: Ek Tha Tiger

As always, it was my intention to write a little ditty about this film much earlier, for I truly believed that this would happen—

It appears that Salman Khan has finally made a film that exemplifies his talent and also stands well in the box office, and by God, there is no one more relieved and excited (at wsp) about this fact as I am!

Ek Tha Tiger produced by Aditya Chopra, actually marks Salman Khan’s first project with Yash Rj Films and is directed by Kabir Khan (New York, Kabhul Express). The film opened on Indian Independence Day, Thursday, August 15 and is breaking box office records all over the place, creating buzz that it’s on the track to catapulting every box office standard ever set in India.

Official Synopsis: A mysterious bachelor  lives in a government employee neighbourhood about whom his neighbours know nothing, for he is India’s top spy, an officer with Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency and called Tiger (his codename). Tiger’s handler of 12 years, located in New Delhi, Shenoy sends he and Gopi, fellow RAW agent, on yet another routine mission, this time in Dublin, Ireland, to observe a scientist of Indian origin, Professor Kidwai, who teaches at the Trinity College, who is suspected of sharing his findings with the Pakistan defence establishment. Tiger attempts to meet the scientist but is unsuccessful, although he manages to meet with the scientist’s caretaker Zoya  who is studying at a local dance academy. He tries to befriend Zoya and as he begins to get closer to Zoya, he begins to discover his human side. For the first time in his life, Tiger falls in love. Then begins a journey that Tiger and Zoya embark upon, battling the dark world of intelligence and espionage that forbids them from falling in love.

Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranvir Shorey, Girish Karnad

Cast Comments: Khan has been around over twenty years, however, he’s never been a favorite of mine, for the simple fact that I was never impressed by any of his performances, including his most famous film Hum Aapke Hai Koun…! with Madhuri Dixit. Khan suffers from thwarting his potential, skirting by as a star and not actually acting in his films. And for a long time, I was convinced the man couldn’t act all, until I saw some of his less popular non-slap-stick films and found that he’s truly a gem, that just decides to give the public what they want instead of performing well. I can’t say this is wise or commendable on his part but it certainly hasn’t hurt him professionally. Therefore, when ETT was announced I was wary but hopeful, for it seemed to be a film that could give everyone what they wanted, including me.

Katrina Kaif is model that makes films and for the most part does a serviceable job. I was most impressed with her performance in Zoya Akhtar‘s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and feel what she does best is play as close to her public image as possible. Oddly, I’ve seen more of her films than I’d like to admit and have found that she conjures the same feel with practically each character I’ve seen, including the promos for this film. And though for an actress this isn’t the worst thing you could ever do [see: Julia Roberts], it’s also quite boring and disappointing at best. Initially, I’d thought we’d get a deviation from the mold, which excited me, but no kids, not this time. If I were to liken her to any other established Indian actress, I’d say she’s a Preity Zinta. For Zinta, is truly only a mediocre actress but has been able to ground a career on playing very similar roles. But with that said, in her span has also managed to pull out some great performances once she steps outside that comfort zone. I think that Kaif can do the same, though I believe she has a better chance of working within the shell she’s given herself and perfecting that role, like she did in ZNMD, rather than trying to break from it.

Unfortunately, in the promos, Khan and Kaif do absolutely nothing for me as a romantic couple, which I’m not sure has always been the case. They’ve done several films together but their romantic pairing here, seems staged and stale– cold even.  Don’t get me wrong, their off-screen equation always gave me a father-daughter vibe but film is about belief suspension, therefore, I was able to set that aside, and I probably should be satisfied that ETT gives off more of the uncle-niece vacation adventure extravaganza concept but all in all it just bodes inappropriate. Not sure if this will be reflected through celluloid as well but as of now, I’m just not buying them.

As for the other cast members, Ranvir Shorey and Girish Karnad, I’ve always enjoyed Shorey’s screen presence for he always seems to make an impression on me visually but it wasn’t until his bit part in Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film, Aaje Nachle, as her boyish girl-shy, ditched, village love,  that I took a genuine notice in his character portrayal. Therefore, I definitely look forward to him taking advantage of his commanding presence by portraying Gopi, a genius intelligence officer and spy. Karnad is most widely known as a poet and playwright. He’s famous for his ability to parallel mystical and contemporary concepts. And though, I like him best in that genre, he’s been making and writing films for the past thirty years, therefore, I would venture to say that his most critically acclaimed work still stands as the film adaptation of Vamsha Vriksha. It’s said that his role in ETT is “pivotal” which gives me the squirrlies. Spy movies always have a rogue spy, double agent or  turn- coat and I’d bet my homemade samosas, one of these guys gets the honor of one or all labels.

Trailer: Ek Tha Tiger

Website: Ek Tha Tiger- The Movie

Thoughts: The synopsis of this film actually made me laugh out loud, for far too long, however, I am still interested, regardless of it’s mind-numbing cheesiness. Like I said earlier, I believe this film has the potential to be one of the five films I actually like with Salman Khan as the star. For, it has all the things he’s known best for but also gives that added emotional rawness that I feel, if he tries, he can tap into and impress the crap out of any and everyone. The story sounds fun and intriguing and there’s action and a little bit of romance— well a whole a bit, who are we kidding, this is Bollywood!

To be honest, ETT reminds me of  Saif Ali Khan‘s Agent Vinod, with the mysterious agents, undercover machinations and covert tactics, even the “real-life” girlfriends, but this isn’t actually a bad thing. ETT seems to try to draw from another place and highlight similar but different aspects of the “secret” agent lifestyle, which I’m never adverse to. Either way, there’ll be parties and punches, kicking and kisses all with a little death dodging in fabulously shot international locations. ETT isn’t anything fascinating but it sounds like a good film, filled with great fun, to keep us sweat soaked for this latter stretch of summer. For there’s nothing like running for your life and falling into a forbidden love, in the heat of the day, or well… watching someone else do it, while you eat popcorn.

[stills courtesy of labeled respective sites]

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