film review: Ek Tha Tiger (2012)

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film review: Ek Tha Tiger (2012)

I have to admit, it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I toddled along to Bollywood blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger on Saturday night. I’d never seen one before but they’re all singing and dancing and that kind of thing aren’t they?

ek tha tiger, dublin bollywood film release dateAll I really knew about it was that the leading man, Salman Khan, is a megastar, that the film had the highest grossing opening of any Bollywood film ever and that it was the fastest every Bollywood film to reach Rs. 100 crore.

In fact it’s now broken another record, having reached Rs. 200 crore in 12 days or so. Rs. 39 crore of that outside India. It needs to hit Rs. 385 crore (approx. US$70m) to officially become the highest grossing of all time, so still a ways to go, but there are analysts out there who think it might do it.

Also I heard there was an exploding Luas in it. So obviously I had to go see it.

Actually I’d always wanted to go to one of the Bollywood films in Cineworld (the only cinema in Ireland that shows them) and since this was partly filmed in Dublin it seemed like the obvious choice. I was in. I have to admit, my resolve faltered a little when I found out it was over 2 hours long but I stood fast. This film was going to be the one.

Turns out… it was a really good movie.

Ok, Ok, really good might be pushing it but it was certainly better some of the other action films I’ve seen recently – I’m looking at you Bourne Legacy. For starters it had action. Right from the start our hero is running around the streets of a dusty desert town kickin’ ass and takin’ names. It was also funny, properly funny, not so bad it’s funny. Though… there was a bit of that as well.

Indeed Ek Tha Tiger seems to have everything and the kitchen sink in it [1]. I was picking the genres for this review and decided to cut it back to four, though I’m still not entirely convinced that I shouldn’t put it in music, dance, and comedy as well. Obviously, this is a bit of a difficult mix but somehow, broadly, they manage to mesh all these different genres together. Somehow.

Plot-wise the story is… fairly simple, it has to be said. Our man Tiger is a dedicated Indian Secret Service (RAW) agent sent to find out if an eccentric professor in Trinity College, Dublin is an agent for the Pakistani Secret Service (ISI).

I say dedicated, but he’s also a bit of a maverick – at one point his superior pleads with him, don’t kill anybody on this mission! A request that, as it turns out, is a little more difficult to comply with than one might imagine. Anyway, Tiger is going hell for leather in his “observation” of this professor when BAM! He falls in love. You can tell from the song. This is where things get messy and Tiger ends up on a journey that takes him from Dublin to Turkey to Cuba, flexing his biceps and waving his guns around.

Tiger Falls In Love

Much of the success of Ek Tha Tiger is down to its leading man. Salman Khan cites Sylvester Stallone as one of his favourite actors and I can definitely see that but I’m put in mind of an older Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s charming, he’s charismatic, he’s funny and he beats the crap out of people. You can’t help but like him.

It is a long film, made longer by an interval (does anyone know if this is normal in a Bollywood film) but it careers along fairly nicely. One of the things I wondered about was how the production values would stack up to Hollywood. Very favourably it turns out. Some of the CGI is a little shaky – that Luas crash is… surprising – but mostly this is a pretty slick production.

So it turns out, my first Bollywood blockbuster experience was a positive one. I’m as surprised as you are. If you’re in Ireland and thinking of taking the plunge, I urge you to head along to this before it leaves Cineworld. It may not make it past this weekend so hurry now!

Oh and in case you’re wondering, there’s actually not really all that much singing and dancing. There were only 3 songs. In fact, that might have been my only disappointment with it.

You know how I love a good dance scene.


[1] – our hero is apparently also quite the cook

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