Baaghi 3 Movie Review: Don’t try to understand it, feel it
Tiger Shroff causes mayhem in a nutty and repetitive action film
Remember the viral ‘peeche toh dekho’ kid from Pakistan? In the world of Baaghi 3, that kid has now grown up, emigrated to Syria, lost his specs, and turned excessively lean. Played by Vijay Varma, he runs petty street scams while hiding under a beanie and long hair. Perhaps he’s had enough, I thought, vexed by memes and a toxic social media culture. He admits as much to Ronnie (Tiger Shroff) and Siya (Shraddha Kapoor), instructing them to follow him in real-life and not on TikTok or Instagram. “Peeche dekho (look back),” he says again, only this time it doesn’t sound as endearing. He’s instead telling them to watch out for cops.
Cast: Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh
Director: Ahmed Khan
Producer: Sajid Nadiadwala, Fox Star Studios
There are more dark layers to Ahmed Khan’s action epic. After a short intro, the film flips into prologue. We see Ronnie as a kid, roughing up bullies for hurting his elder brother Vikram. When they return home, Ronnie is brutally whipped by their father. The dad here is played by Jackie Shroff, in a bit of meta fan-servicing gone awfully wrong. When the kids grow up to be a mismatched set — one roguish, the other shy — it’s like the two halves of Tiger’s personality (as violent action hero and coy interviewee) manifesting in separate beings.
Here I quit the psychoanalysing to talk about the guns and tanks.
Grown-up Vikram (Riteish Deshmukh) is a cop in Agra. Inept at fighting crime, he counts on Ronnie secretly subbing on his behalf. Ronnie is part Green Arrow (in that he wears a hood) and part Flash (gets places fast) — he also wields a hammer and a shield later on. Briefly, Ronnie takes an interest in Siya, but seems too wrapped in brotherly affection to care for anyone else. This is put to test when Vikram, on tour in Syria, gets abducted by a terror group. Ronnie shows up in the war-torn state, tracks down his brother’s kidnappers, takes on three military choppers and five tanks, and wreaks enough mayhem to leave Bashar al-Assad scratching his head.
The action set pieces are large but repetitive. The opening fight is restaged kick-for-kick in the climax. There are two identical shots of Tiger swinging from a chain. There’s little invention, and not a whiff of logic. Ronnie crashes unscathed from a chopper to a roof, the setting of an empty field magically replaced by an enemy hideout. It gets incredibly tedious, despite the smaller, stealthier sequences along the way. Incredibly though for a blockbuster release, the brawny action isn’t sauced up with national pride — the going norm in Hindi movies. Screenwriter Farhad Samji, for all his tireless punning, keeps the motivations firmly personal.
Siya’s phone cover has the words ‘Haan Bol’ (Say Yes) written on it. This is perhaps Shraddha’s mantra every time a franchise project comes her way. Tiger, as usual, operates in two modes: he’s either beating people up or blubbing inconsolably. Jaideep Ahlawat, in a flowing beard and pathani kurta, manages to steal a few scenes. He’s a gangster who loves asking riddles, and though the surrounding characters are rarely game, the matinee audience at my theatre had a ball. It’s a reminder that some devices never get old, and are best deployed by actors like Jaideep, who bring a muted dignity to the scam of commercial filmmaking.