I already wrote two reviews, so now it’s time for my full summary! Which will be easy for this one, because it’s basically song-fight-song-fight-song.
(part 2 here)
First, Bangkok! A tall building. Inside, a guy is watching a fight. His various underlings run up telling him “they’ve found her!” and showing him a movie magazine from Tamil Nadu with a picture of Shraddha Kapoor on the cover.
And then, fight! But, coolly, it is a fight with Shraddha Kapoor beating up like 4 guys in a dark room. She is in the middle of them, spinning around with high kicks and punches. It looks really cool. And then she breaks free and runs away, outside, then trips and falls, someone runs forward to help here, and this is when the camera pulls back to reveal other cameras filming her, and the director runs up and tells her what a good shot that was. Ha! What a cool fourth wall break! And also, that’s exactly the same as the opening of Prabhas’ first big hit, the Telugu film Varsham (read my review of it here). Except she is running through a forest instead of fighting a bunch of guys. But otherwise, identical. This will not be the last identical moment.
Afterwards, again just like Varsham, her clearly corrupt Dad starts using the injury as an excuse to force a pack-up for the day, and drive up her fees from the producers. But, finally, a slight difference! Instead of going home to find intruders in their house who kidnap her, he sees them gathered outside her trailer. And, at first, thinks they are just more stuntmen for another fight scene, with fake guns. And he makes fun of their guns, since he is from the north, where guns are real! Only, of course, these guns are actually real, which is why I think this scene is supposed to be funny? As usual with comedy in these movies, it does not work for me.
Finally, the head bad guy comes forward, and Shraddha’s Dad realizes it isn’t a joke. Cut to, Shraddha drugged in a wheelchair being wheeled onto a jet to Bangkok. And then her Dad talking to the police, who say, basically, “Good luck with all that!” And then talking with the producer, saying there is one person who can help them. Again, this is just Varsham.
And now, not-Varsham! It’s the same kind of scene, but in Varsham it was rescuing a noble boss from a construction site to show how awesome our hero is. Here, it’s a whole different series of scenes with the same result.
Tiger! Upside down holding himself up with only the thumb and forefinger of his hand. Impressive! Someone is rushing in to interrupt him, saying that the doctor needs him at the hospital, there is news!
News about WORLD’S MOST ADORABLE LITTLE BOY!!! He is so cute! And tiny! And apparently has some kind of speech impediment which the doctor is saying can be fixed, but they need money to pay the surgeon. Huh. What an odd kind of speech impediment it must be, that can be fixed surgically.
Conveniently, just as our hero is sitting staring into space trying to figure out where he can get the money, out pops the producer of the film! Telling him that Shraddha has been kidnapped! And now we are back to Varsham. Our hero looks bitter and angry, but also a little concerned. Well, he is supposed to at least. Tiger is struggling a little, and settles for just “make my eyes bigger”. But he does agree to save her, if only for the money. And then he walks five feet away, sits on his motorcycle, and stares into space for a flashback.
And now we have Varsham again. Shraddha is all innocent and childlike and looking out the door of a train, holding her hand out to catch the first drops of rain. Only, the rain goes away. So she starts talking to the clouds, telling them to come back. In the background, innocent young Tiger walks by and hears her, and then surprises her when she turns around and teases her for talking to the clouds, implying that she was talking to him. In both this and Varsham, I like how the heroine plays this scene. She’s not necessarily flirting back, but she is smiling a lot, and seems to be enjoying their little interaction, and definitely isn’t having her maidenly modesty impinged by speaking with a boy. Very confident in herself.
But then she is called back to the seat by her mother. Her father is going around, being humorous and sneaky, talking on the phone with someone about getting a start in a movie industry, and stealing someone else’s lungi, when he spills something on his. His wife and daughter just laugh and ignore him. That’s one big difference from Varsham. In Varsham, they ignored him too, but it was a major plot point. That her mother and her grandmother were helping her rebel against her weak father. In this, it is barely mentioned, just shows up for about ten seconds in two scenes. One here, and one later.
The train stops, and another group gets off a different compartment, Sudheer Babu and a bunch of chamchas. He is clearly an important scary person, because the conductor rushes over to invite him to wait in his office until the water is cleared from the tracks. While he is waiting in the office, he looks through the bars, and sees that Shraddha is stepping off the train again, because it is beginning to rain. She starts to dance, and makes eye contact with Tiger, who is on the platform buying fruit or something. This is a bit they stole entirely from Varsham, but it is really clever. Not just the meeting through rain song part, but how the love triangle is filmed here.
Shraddha is making eye contact with Tiger and vice versa. They are clearly dancing for each other. But in the middle of it, Sudheer Babu walks between them, looking at Shraddha. And she never even sees him, her eyes are all for Tiger in the distance, not the man right in front of her. Even when she runs up and grabs his umbrella, she still doesn’t really see him.
Song over, she jumps back on the train, but can’t find her father. She looks out again, and Tiger immediately runs up and says he will look for him. Again, it’s a nice little thing that was also in Varsham. That they have barely spoken, but already she is comfortable telling him to do things for her, because they had such an immediate connection. Only, while he is still running around on the platform, she sees her Dad on the train! And the train pulls out leaving Tiger behind! And there is a nice shot of him running down the platform with the town name on the sign in the foreground. And this is also the point when I realize they are just doing Varsham shot for shot, with no thought as to whether it actually makes sense. Because in Varsham, this was a nice rhyming shot, that’s how the film ends as well, with them two of them together on a train pulling away from that platform and that sign. But in this, it never comes up again, so they put in the whole focus on the platform and sign shot for no good reason, besides a complete lack of originality.
And just when I am about to give up and go watch Varsham again, something different! Tiger walks into a field filled with guys practicing martial arts of some sort. He keeps walking around the complex, until he finds a room with a guy on a platform meditating in front of a class. He whispers to one of the students, asking if that is “master”, and they say it is. So he walks up and taps the guy on the knee, interrupting his meditation, and then says his father sent him here, he has a letter somewhere, digs in his bag, pulling out a can of beer and underwear, before finally finding the letter in his pocket. The letter says that this is the son of “masters” old friend from the army. That he has grown up wild and naughty without a father’s influence (because of the army service). That now his father is dead, and he is sending him here to learn discipline. “Master” asks how old he is. Tiger says 23. Master says he is 68 (in Hindi) and Tiger asks what that is in English. This movie has a ton of English, by the way. So much that I am almost wondering if Tiger himself isn’t fluent in Hindi? Or else they were really going after the international market. Or the southern one.
Tiger disrespectfully points his finger in the Master’s face, which the Master grabs and uses to flip him down onto the floor. Tiger leaps up (really fast too, he clearly already has some training and plenty of strength, which makes his whole zero-to-hero in 6 months journey a little more believable), and the Master flips him down again. And then tells him he will be staying in room 29, and getting up before the master and going to sleep after.
Round-faced glasses wearing guy (how is he at a kung fu school? He is clearly the soft and funny servant type!) and adorable little boy who can’t talk show Tiger his room. He asks about his bed, and the little boy pulls out a mat and unrolls it saying “ya-ya!” (apparently the only sound he can make. What kind of speech defect is this?). He asks about a/c, and the little boy opens the window. He asks about a fridge for his beer, and the little boy takes the lid off a clay pot. Speaking just for myself, do not make me stay there! I need my a/c!
And now let us take a break from the hero, and drop into the villain’s story! Sudheer Babu has also arrived at the school. And he is greeted much more warmly. Apparently, he is Masters son, and runs a whole fight club empire overseas. And is an international champion (I think we may get a newspaper montage at some point to provide all the backstory here). But he is also a loving son, who insists on feeding his father first at every meal. And who is touched and honored when his father wants to make him the captain of their boat for the annual boat race.
Boat race time! It looks kind of fun. Big long thin boats, with a bunch of guys perched on top of them, zipping through the water. We’re in Kerala, by the way. Did I say that already? Thanks to my recent obsession with Malayalam films, I felt all “Oh, Kerala! I feel so at home!” as soon as we started getting some scenery. Also, that’s why we had the elaborate bend over backwards dialogue to show that our heroine is from the Hindi-speaking north and has come south for movies, and our hero is from the Hindi-speaking north and has come south for school, only because there is an old friend of his father’s from the army here.
Sudheer Babu is captaining one of the boats, but is distracted when he sees Shraddha cheering from the sidelines. He almost loses the race because of this, but rallies at the last minute and the win. Only, then he walks right by the trophy, and instead heads for the spot where he last saw her, trying to find her. No luck! But he orders his chamchas to find out who that girl was. It’s almost sweet! I kind of want them to get together!
Tiger didn’t get to go to the boatrace, because he was working so hard! He is woken by a kick from the Masters assistant, who then orders him to do everything he is told for the rest of the day. Which is a lot of carrying laundry and vegetables, stirring soup, ringing bells, etc. Very 36th Chamber of the Shaolin/The Karate Kid.
But, it pays off because one day while buying vegetables in town, he sees Shraddha! And as soon as he sees her, it starts to rain. And now we are back to Varsham. He clarifies that she is also visiting from the north, and then invites her to climb the lighthouse with him and see the town. Only then it stops raining, and she suggests they meet up again the next time it rains instead.
And then Tiger is drinking and eating chicken with the glasses guy and the cute little kid, bemoaning his lovesickness. How is he working all day 36th Chamber style and still drinking all night? This makes no sense! Especially because I think they may have moved this scene around a bit from it’s original location. But it is all a set up so we can go back to Varsham and have Shraddha’s father overhear them talking, not realizing the girl they are talking about is his own daughter! Ha-ha-ha. Funny!
He gives Tiger advice, and also steals his chicken and beer. And then it’s the next day, and Sudheer Babu has shown up at Shraddha’s house. How did he find her? Am I forgetting a scene, or did they just not bother to explain it? I’m guessing, the second. He is here now anyway, and is offering lots and lots of money to her father to marry her. In both this and Varsham, it’s a little clear, but not really, that her father is never actually planning to marry her to this guy. He is just running a scam for the money. Which makes him not that great of a father, but not totally horrible. He isn’t actually willing to sell his daughter off to the highest bidder, just willing to pretend to do it. Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Shraddha is freaking out because it just started to rain and she has to meet Tiger! Her grandmother agrees, and tells her to sneak out the back while she covers for her. This is the only other scene with her and her mother and grandmother, and it’s too bad they cut the other bits from Varsham. In Varsham, there’s a whole running thing about her mother and grandmother encouraging her to go after this nice young middle-class boy instead of the fame and fortune her father wants for her, and them covering while she sneaks out her is part of a whole thing. But, even with just this little bit left, it’s still nice to see the grandma telling her to run after love and run away from her father.
And now we are at a terribly green-screened lighthouse! She is on one side, and talking to the rain again, telling it to go rain where “he” is, so he knows to come! And then of course the camera pans around to show that Tiger is there, just on the other side. He hears her, comes around and surprises her, and song!
Now, here is a really interesting diversion from Varsham! In Varsham, they meet at a temple, not a lighthouse. And the song is mostly at the temple. Culminating in her giving him her ring to wear as a vow. In this one, the song is very modern, all in jeans and t-shirts. And with cell-phones and selfies. And in the end, she gives him her ring, but it is followed by a kiss, not a vow in a temple. It’s just the best one to one comparison for how the Hindi film industry has become globalized while the southern industry is still tied to Indian images, religions, and relationships! And that’s not even getting into the English language chorus in the Baaghi song!
(the little bit at the beginning is just in the trailer, I think. In the movie, it goes straight from the lighthouse to the song)
Song and kiss over, Tiger stumbles back to the school late, and is caught by the Master. He hits him in a couple of pressure points to make him vomit, then asks if he is sober enough to fight. Tiger argues that he didn’t learn anything about fighting, just chores. Oh oh! I know this! It’s “wax on-wax off” from The Karate Kid! Sure enough, they start to fight, and Tiger realizes all the repetitive movements from his chores taught him fight moves and strengthened muscles. And then another song! A training song!
Oh, this is the bit I think they may have moved. It doesn’t make sense for him to come home drunk and disreputable, when we just saw him having a happy and wholesome(ish) love song followed by one quick kiss. I’m guessing it was supposed to be after the chicken and beer and lovesickness scene, but they moved it so they could have all the romance bits in a row.
Somewhere around here, I think maybe after the training montage, is where we see Sudheer Babu practicing with his fwippy swords. Tiger is watching, all impressed. And then Sudheer thinks of Shraddha and gets hit. Everyone is stunned! Because he is the champion! But Sudheer realizes that it means he needs to lock this down so he can stop thinking about it. And either in this scene, or in another scene, he sees Tiger practicing and suggests that after Tiger finishes his studies, maybe he should come to Bangkok and work with him. And Tiger is all boyish and impressed by this! So we have a nice little hero worship kind of relationship to add to the irony later. Except, not really, because they change it in like five minutes.
Shraddha and Tiger are talking in the street, when they see her father coming. They wave down an autorickshaw and hustle her into it. It’s not nearly as well done as the same scene in Varsham, when there were four guys all standing in a row, so she could sneak behind them into the rickshaw. But the Dad recognizes the ring on Tigers finger, although he pretends he doesn’t. Hmm. This is a bit of a flaw with the adaptation. In the original, they had a scene at the beginning where the Dad mentions the ring he gave her, and then she gave it to Prabhas without telling him where it came from. But in this one, they cut the original scene short, so they had to put in the information that the ring came from her father in the scene when she actually gives it to Tiger. So, why wouldn’t Tiger remember that and be hiding his hand now? Stupid!
Shraddha’s father plays it off, but then goes straight to Sudheer Babu and, presumably, tells him. Which is when Sudheer Babu turns inexplicably eeeeeeeeeeevil.
Sudheer Babu is now talking with his father, saying he wants to marry Shraddha. His Dad forbids the marriage, not quite sure why, just seems to be against it for some reason. I guess because the script tells him to be? So Sudheer Babu kills him! It’s just that sudden. They are having a meal together, Sudheer insists on feeding him first, just like always, because he loves him so much. And then he starts to choke, and Sudheer moves the water glass away from his hand. He starts to crawl away, Sudheer follows, watches him die, and then dumps the yogurt he fed him in the pond. I was hoping we would get to see the pond turn completely green or all the fish die and rise to the surface or something crazy like that. But, no! He just dumps the yogurt and gets away with it.
At the same time, Tiger and the adorable little boy are shopping in town. They bought a little red scarf which the adorable little boy is wearing (needless to say, it looks cute on him), and which they are planning to give to “Master”. But, as they are walking out of a store, a bunch of guys in trucks show up and start to give Tiger a hard time, clearly about dating Shraddha. Tiger tries to tell them off, but they grab adorable little boy! Nooooooooooooooooooo!
And then, fight fight fight fight fight! It follows the same beats as the fight in Varsham, the little boy is grabbed, the bad guys throw him back and forth with our hero dashing around trying to catch him, and then chasing the bad guys when they finally carry him off. He does do a little bit of high kicking and leaping, which was added in for Tiger’s particular skill set. And then it ends the same way. First, with the little boy (in Varsham, it’s Prabhas’ nephew) being held with a hand over his mouth hidden on the roof of a house, but managing to knock over a pot to alert the hero. And then the bad guys throw him off the roof and the hero catches him. And it gets all Sunny Deol up in here! Because he grabs a water pipe and rips if off the side of a building, and uses it to buldgeon everyone. I checked the original just to be sure I was remembering correctly, and in Varsham, it’s like the handle off a pump or something. It’s actually less-Deol like than it is here.
Tiger almost kills a guy, Gadar style with a water pipe shoved through his body, but cute little boy looks at him all big eyed, so he stops. And then goes back to school just in time to find out that the Master has been killed. Downer!
Somewhere in here is the another scene ripped off straight from Varsham. I want to say it is after the funeral, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, Sudheer Babu drives into town with all his henchgoons and confronts Tiger. They fight, Tiger gets beaten, but then breaks away and runs to the gas station we have never seen before, pulls out a pump, uses it to soak the henchgoons, and then pulls out a lighter. Everyone gasps! And then Sudheer Babu comes forward, but stops short before he can be hit by the gas. Although, really, if you are standing in the middle of a bunch of guys soaked in gas, on top of pavement soaked in gas, I think not having any actually on you when the fire starts isn’t going to be a real advantage. Also, in Varsham, the gas station is where our hero is always hanging out with his friends, so this feels a bit more organic than the random gas pump out of nowhere like it is here.
Oh, and then Tiger asks Sudheer if he loves Shraddha enough to die for her. And then soaks himself in gas and says that he does. Wait, what? That is such a stupid idea!
And then we go from him being all in love and grieving his mentor and stuff, to him being all cold and dressed in black and riding an escalator in an airport, as the little fwippy letters like they used to use in airport arrival signs in the lower right side of the screen change to say “Bangkok”. And then the fwip again to say “Interval”.
And that’s lunch! I could keep going and finish the whole thing, but I’m hungry! I’ll be back with the second half later today or tomorrow.