Salman Khan in 'Ek Tha Tiger'

With an action-packed trailer and a couple of average one-liners, ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ pretty much sets up expectations to be an action thriller rather than an overall fun entertainer like ‘Dabangg’ (2010). Itdraws similarities with ‘Wanted’ (2009) with Salman Khan as a spy with tons of action and little spice. Considering director Kabir Khan’s reputation as a concept film maker with a deep storyline, this Indian James Bond story should have more mettle than his previous projects including ‘New York’ (2009). The music does not appear to contribute to the film’s hype with only oneimpressionable song Mashallah – in an otherwiseoverall average soundtrack. What the trailer does well is show only a few scenes between Khan and Katrina Kaif, successfullyleaving their chemistry a big mystery. This mystery and Khan۪s recent reputationof the biggest hit maker in the industry should easily drive audiences to the box office queues.

Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan in 'Ek Tha Tiger'
Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan in 'Ek Tha Tiger'

Aditya Chopra has written some of the biggest hit stories ofrecent times and even some recentdead-weights. For Ek Tha Tiger۪, he decides to go the thriller way with Khan as the Indian International spy (or the self-proclaimed James Bond۝). Tiger (Khan)is the best that RAW has; he is honest and a proper killing machine who never manages to come clean from any mission without killing anyone. For once, he gets a mission to shadow an ex-Indian scientist living in Dublin who is suspectedof passing information to Pakistan on confidential defence technologies of India. He is to befriend Zoya (Katrina Kaif) as a medium to get close to the scientist as she is his part-time cleaner/care-taker. Over a couple of meetings he falls in love with her in the clich̩d Bollywood style even though his fellow spy, Gopi (Ranvir Shorey), warns him not to fall in love while on a mission. His heart finally starts to take over his trained and calculative brain for the first time in his life. What he discovers next is the real twist in this thriller which is best left to be discovered in the cinema hall.

Ek Tha Tiger۪ is not your typical spy thriller and has a story that goes back and forth, leaving the viewer engaged and guessing as well asmaking Chopra a clear winner on his deliverance. Kabir Khan does a fabulous job by moulding that story and vision into visual domain with lot of style and attitude to accompanythe script and screenplay. Each scene is well thoughtout and shot brilliantly. The camera work and cinematography is ofHollywood standard and arguablyeven better in some scenes.

The most noticeable aspect of the film is its action. You will be led to think of the Bourne series, Taken۪ (2008), Transporter۪ (2002) and the recent James Bond films crossed together andwill clearly notice the inspirations in the action choreography butwith the added mix of Khan’scharacter and class. The good thing is that the action is not dark, gory or bloody in any way, giving it an easy 12+ rating for the entire family to enjoy.

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in 'Ek Tha Tiger'
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in 'Ek Tha Tiger'

Kaif delivers a surprisingly commendable performance in the first half of the film. Kabir Khan brings out the best in her performanceand itclearly shows how much she has grown as an actress. Disappointingly her acting is very limited in the second half with barely any dialogues. She looks stunning throughout especially in the song Banjaara.

A big let-down is that Khan’s age is evident throughout the film. His character is a mature 30+ spy buthe lookshis actual age except for when he is in his element in the action scenes where he could put evena 20-year-old to shame. Anotherdrawback is the lackof depth in the cast and their characters. The movie is based on just a few actors and it sticks to their world for overtwo hours. This is ideal for those who are in the cinema purely to watchKhan or Kaif. The movie also lacks those punchy and clever dialogues that make a film memorable. It also does not have many fun or light moments to make it a complete entertainer. It also served as disappointing that the song Mashallah is only a part of the end credits.

Ek Tha Tiger۪ clearly delivers on all the expectations and more. Kabir Khan showcases his potential to deliver a commercial action thriller. Kaif shows she can act too, while looking stunning all the time, andKhan proves again he is the best action hero for a reason.The film seesthe return of Chopra to writing good thriller storylines suitable for the international markets as much as India with exotic filming locations which is a big deal. Yash Raj Films could not have picked up a better day for release the film than Indian Independence day with the India-Pakistan enmity clearly highlighted in the movie.The film, however, may not godown toowell withwestern audiencesbecause ofthe perception of hate between the nationsbeing shown quite strongly in some scenes making it rather uncomfortable for the harmonious community that a western audience would be used to.Having said that,the film does preach unity all in the spirit of good intention. Overall, the film lacks variety, spice, good music and some fun – making it a one-time watch. Compared to the hype and hysteria that has been built around the movie, it is somewhat a disappointment.

BizAsia Showbiz Rating 3.5/5