Ek Tha Tiger Times of India Movie Review by Gaurav Malani

Ek Tha Tiger: Movie ReviewDirector: Kabir Khan
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif

Salman Khan is a species that invites admiration and applause in any kind of film format or movie genre. Off late we have seen enough of him in mindless comedies and inflated action flicks. But the Yash Raj banner and, more particularly, director Kabir Khan project him in a sober, suave and sensible way over his patented pedestrian image. And since the film follows a sane storyline over silly slapstick, one is able to appreciate and enjoy it better.

In the prologue chase-sequence where he is introduced as an intelligence officer on assignment in a foreign country, Salman Khan escapes his opponents by splurging money in an open market and subsequently camouflages in the crowd that is busy pouncing on the currency. Be rest assured that what follows would be ‘paisa vasool’ entertainment.

Tiger (Salman Khan) is an Indian intelligence officer who’s sent by RAW to Dublin to keep an eye on a science professor. There he comes across Zoya ( Katrina Kaif) and expectedly falls for her. Until it turns out that even Zoya is on an undercover mission. Now Tiger has to choose between duty and love.

Aditya Chopra sketches his story on the unusual premise of what would happen if an Indian intelligence officer falls in love with a Pakistani spy. The conflicts in the love story come quite naturally through the animosity between the two neighbouring nations, prevalent for decades. On a broader level the film implies how love can overpower all inherent differences. Yet it never makes a very conscious attempt to sound preachy or positive about the state-of-affairs between the countries. Chopra’s story is credibly crafted into a riveting screenplay by Neelesh Misra and Kabir Khan.

At first instance, it seems like the love story is barging in the spy-drama. Until you realize that Ek Tha Tiger, largely, is a love story on the backdrop of an espionage thriller and not the other way round. Once we realize that, the romance track is never a hindrance. Rather the Indo-Pak spy couple lends the love story its uniqueness. Nevertheless there is no compromise on the spy setup of the film either. Director Kabir Khan commendably balances the love story and the spy drama, with each element taking precedence at different junctures in the film as per the requirement.

The beauty of the film is that, though the protagonist goes against his establishment for a girl from a rival country, you still root for him. Their integrity towards each other makes you overlook the fact that the two spies went rogue. Thereby Ek Tha Tiger is more of a rooted romance tale over a mechanical spy-thriller. Where it scores above most Indian espionage flicks (including the recent Agent Vinod) is that fact that though it frequently changes geographical boundaries, the narrative never wanders aimlessly.

Unlike most desi actioners where the stunts are often exaggerated, convoluted and commonplace, Ek Tha Tiger boasts of some imaginative action sequences smartly choreographed by Hollywood stunt coordinator Conrad Palmisano. It isn’t of the existing variety where a dozen goons go flying in the air by hero’s one kick. Kabir Khan strikes a perfect balance between heroism and realism in this department. So the background score or editing patterns don’t have to be overblown for the impact. The tram sequence in first half and the freeway chase in the second is sure to invite applause in cinema-halls.

Despite a serious spy setup, the film has a very cool sense of humour. The tongue-in-cheek lines often make you smile even in the most unusual circumstances. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography lends the film a grace that the genre demands, as he captures the essence of Ireland, Cuba, Istanbul and other countries with elan.

Salman Khan carries an urbane charm and looks uber-cool dressed in formals. He is resourcefully restrained sans his customary buffoonery. His acting ability is best exploited in this film after a long long time. Katina Kaif is gorgeous as always and puts in a confident act. Her agility in action sequences adds to her conviction. And more importantly she shares terrific chemistry with Salman Khan, something that was missing in all their earlier pairings. Ranvir Shorey as Salman’s associate makes for a good supporting cast. Girish Karnad and Gavie Chahal lend decent support.

Ek Tha Tiger, by far, is Salman Khan’s most entertaining and accomplished works in recent times. Hope he takes the correct cues from this film and stays away from mediocrity henceforth.

Verdict: Very Good

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