Film review: Tiger Zinda Hai

2017 saw a number of Bollywood blockbuster flops, but Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif end the year on a high note

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in the song "Dil Diyan Gallan" for the movie Tiger Zinda Hai. Courtesy Yash Raj Films
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Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

4 stars

With 2017 being a year of flops, Tiger Zinda Hai was the big hit Bollywood needed to end the year on a high note.

After all, Bhai usually doesn’t disappoint, and this action-packed tale, based on real-life events has already got filmgoers rushing to theatres - this Thursday night showing was almost a full house.

Director Ali Abbas Zafar has taken the 2014 incident when 46 Indian nurses were held captive in Tikrit by suspected ISIL militants, to form the crux of the story. Despite the film being a sequel to 2012's Ek Tha Tiger, it stands on its own and quickly reestablishes the characters from the previous outing.

Tiger (Salman Khan) lives with his wife Zoya (Katrina Kaif) and their son in the Austrian Alps, far from the life he led as a RAW (India’s foreign intelligence agency) agent, and her job as a Pakistan ISI agent. But when New Delhi is given a week to save its trapped nurses from ISC (a terrorist group modeled on ISIL), Tiger is called on to do the job. Who needs an entire army to fight what is possibly the world’s largest terrorist organisation, when Bhai is on hand?

Everyone knows Khan will save the day, but the journey getting there is an exciting one, with many twists and turns. While the plot keeps Khan at the centre of the action, the ensemble cast has their moments and truly shine. Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz is fantastic in his stoic performance as the ISC chief Abu Usman. Senior actors Paresh Rawal and Kumud Mishra play interesting roles, and inject just the right kind of humour.

Kaif as Zoya is fearless and brave, but apart from a couple of action sequences ­– one of which involves her saving a store from being robbed with a pen – she doesn’t have a very large role to play. She does have fabulous chemistry with (her real-life ex) Khan, and the pair seem very comfortable on-screen.

Another unsung hero of the film is also the city of Abu Dhabi, which stands in for the war-torn Iraqi city of Ikrit.

A 20,000-square-metre plot in Khalifa Industrial Zone was set-up for the shooting, while the Arkan Cement Factory in Al Ain was used to shoot the oil refinery scenes in the film.

Khan is also briefly shown riding a quad bike in the Liwa desert, in a scene where he assembles the dream team for his mission.

Indian Bollywood actors Katrina Kaif (L) and Salman Khan look on during a promotional event in Mumbai on December 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STR
Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan. AFP

Salman Khan, of course shines as Tiger – the RAW agent who goes above and beyond what he is asked to do. It may seem like a brave step, but to a logical viewer, it seems silly that he constantly attracts attention to himself (so much for being undercover!), and aims to wipe all the wrong doings of ISC in less than a week, and not just the job he was sent to do.

While logic is not a very important factor in Khan’s films, emotions certainly are, and the director made sure to hit all the soft spots – from patriotism to Indo-Pakistan bonding to a multitude of cheesy dialogues – which is a smart move, and sure to bring in both Indian and Pakistani audiences.

Certainly one of the better Salman Khan movies in the recent times - watch Tiger Zinda Hai for its action sequences, even though it does feature one too many slow-motion scenes, excellent background score and performances by the ensemble cast.