Well, that was a super fun movie to watch! But not because it was a good movie. Oh my goodness was it bad! To the point where we got the giggles about it.
Karthik commented on my Jagga Jasoos review asking why I don’t write like a grown up reviewer, and I can! I really really can! I just choose not to because it’s not my natural style, plus there’s a philosophical decision involved in writing in a way that keeps me as an equal with the reader instead of putting myself on a higher plane. But this is a Munna Michael review, who cares what I do with it! So, just for kicks, I will write it like a “real” reviewer, just for once, just to show you I can. And then provide translation into “normal” Margaret speak in parentheses.
Sabbir Khan’s 3rd collaboration with Tiger Shroff includes the features that have become hallmarks of their artistic partnership. A new heroine once again (Nidhi Agarwal following Kriti Sonam and Shraddha Kapoor), acrobatic fight and chase scenes heavily influenced by the recent martial arts films of central asia, and a plot that is familiar to viewers of Hindi cinema with the hallmarks of the melange approach to narrative.
(It’s a masala film with all the cool stuff stolen from other better movies from non-Hindi industries)
This film in particular highlights the dancing skills of its star, as you can surmise from the title. Tiger’s technically brilliance in the dancing scenes is inarguable, however the same cannot be said of the choreography that is provided to him. While other choreographers in India have provided homages and displayed influences ranging from Gene Kelly to Baryshnikov to, yes, Michael Jackson, the dances in this film disappointingly fall back on the same familiar steps that are routinely used in films such as ABCDs 1 and 2, and the Step-Up series from Hollywood.
(Tiger can move his body, but it’s still boring to watch somehow)
However, in those previously mentioned franchises, those steps are mixed with alternative styles, providing a certain richness to the overall flavor of the performances. In this film, in contrast, the dances are all of a similar type, the equivalent of a meal made entirely of an entree with no side dishes.
(Lots and lots of robot style moves)
Our heroine, Nidhi Agarwal, initially is introduced through a performance intended to provide an alternative artistic tradition to the film. However, while her character is a descendent of the classical Tawaifs such as the great Meena Kumari in Pakeezah and the timeless Rekha in Umrao Jaan, she is without the tragic depth those two actresses brought to their roles. And her performance is without the soulful beauty they conveyed. It is an empty dance, no delicacy to it. A pale imitation of more complex variations on the dancing girl tradition relying heavily on what experts in the art of dance have called “haireography”.
(She’s a naach girl but all the “naach” is just hair flips and hip bumps)
(they knew it wasn’t good and didn’t even make the video available online)
Our heroine’s dancing may not be at the same level as our hero’s, but they are compatible scene partners during emotional moments. Tiger’s distinctively opaque method of delivering dialogue is well matched by Nidhi’s naively simple method of reciting dialogue. In the same way, the aesthetic of their characters is similar, both relying heavily on revealing rather than hiding their physicality.
(Tiger’s still a terrible actor and so is Nidhi, and neither of them ever wear enough clothing)
In contrast, Nawazuddin’s performance involves a certain amount of modulation in his dialogue delivery, as well as emotionality in his facial expressions. This comes as a bracing contrast to Tiger’s chosen style, and to Nidhi’s developing techniques.
(Nawazuddin can actually act, which makes him different from Tiger and Nidhi)
Ronit Roy, the other senior performer within the film, opts for an alternative acting style. Perhaps as an homage to his character, an aging junior artiste trapped in the past, he chooses to perform in a manner reminiscent of his early career when he appeared in such effervescent films as Bal Brahmachari. His performance follows the standard that was common at that time, in the early 1990s, with a certain level of emotional honesty combined with performative orality. Again, this is a bracing contrast to Tiger’s style, which follows a lack of both performativeness and orality.
(Ronit Roy acts like a goof in a bad 90s movie, which is still more interesting than Tiger choosing not to even bother)
Overall, I would recommend this film as an interactive experience, be prepared to provide your own narration and interpretation to certain scenes, and to discuss in great detail the aesthetic aspect of the lead performance.
(It’s fun if you make fun of it the whole time and like watching Tiger get shirtless)