It’s been half a decade since Salman “Tiger” Khan’s romantic action thriller Ek Tha Tiger hit theatres on Independence Day in 2012 to a resounding ka-ching at the box office, that Yash Raj Films is all too familiar with. The film ended with India’s most indispensable RAW agent Avinash Rathore aka Tiger vamoosing off to Havana, Cuba to live a life of quiet anonymity (hah!) with his Pakistani ISI agent love, Zoya (Katrina Kaif).
The sequel’s title says it all – he’s alive and kicking up powder in Austria with his son, Junior, fighting off packs of wolves (without killing them) unarmed with bare hands, skiing down the slopes, without taking off his winter jacket even once in the sequence. It cannot get any more real than that in Bollywood. And when he’s not busy playing dad or a spy in voluntary retirement, he spray-paints his love for wife Zoya on snow-capped mountain slopes to Atif Aslam’s Dil Diya Gallan in big-eyed wonderment. Nothing much has changed for Khan and his indomitable cinematic appeal since Ek Tha Tiger, though the same cannot be said for Kaif, despite her enviable pilates lean body. This Tiger is burning brighter than ever and Khan wings the film with indefatigable ease, never mind a couple of awkward supporting cast members and an askew, inconsistent pace of the film which could have been sharper and faster.
What I loved about Tiger Zinda Hai:
- Sheer girl power in the film. Where in Bollywood films does a wife rescue her husband in a war-struck country and drive him around without him switching to the wheel mid-save? The said wife, Katrina, is a bad-ass Bhabhi from her current location in Austria who swivels guns better than rolling pins in Ikrit, Iraq.
- Salman Khan skiing on the Innsbruck slopes, fully clothed.
- What’s better than a shirtless Salman? A bloodied warrior Salman toting double guns saving 39 Indian and Pakistani nurses!
- I loved Iranian born and UAE resident, Sajjad Delafrooz’s consummate performance as the antagonist Abu Usman, but for a verbose sermon he had to give Tiger at the tail end of the film. Restrained and confident acting on his part.
- Horses in the action sequences remind you why fast cars and bikes use horse power units of measurement in the first place and with Salman riding one, it’s a cinema freeze frame for life.
- Not using divisive political tactics in the film’s narrative, but humanitarian ones.
- The White House representative with an uncanny Sarah Huckabee accent, sans any Trumpa Loompa.
- The film only has two songs picturized on the lead cast of Khan and Kaif – Dil Diya Gallan in the beginning and the second, Swag Se Swagat at the end.
- What Khan’s presence in the Liwa Desert does for Abu Dhabi tourism is incomparable to anything they could have envisaged for themselves. And Khan wasn’t just another mirage!
- I had fun watching Tiger Zinda Hai and wanted to clap in all of Katrina’s bad-ass Bhabhi scenes, and most of the cool sequences.