Tiger Zinda Hai Review (No SPOILERS): Not a Fun Move

Well shoot, that was a disappointment!  And I feel kind of bad because I dragged my sister and cousin along with me.  On the other hand, I am also happy that I had them there for moral support.  Because this was very dark and very stressful and not really fun at all!

I realized what I was missing while I was watching it, I was missing anything “soft” and anything “fun”.  Which, coincidentally, is exactly what made the original Ek Tha Tiger so great.  It was an action movie with great action bits, but it was mostly a soft mushy romance, with the occasional fun little sight gag and one liner.  Unlike this film, which has a terrible balance of one really fun bit right at the beginning, and way at the end, and then incredibly dark and stressful “hard” stuff for the rest of it.

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(their serious faces in this poster should give you a clue what you are in for)

I wonder why this is?  I don’t want to say “the world is dark and depressing blah blah”, that’s too easy an answer.  And after all, comedies did well this year, Mubarakan and Golmaal Again.  I might land on the whole word of mouth issue.  This is a film that’s easy to describe, you just say that Salman rescues a bunch of nurses and it’s very intense and surprising and intelligent.  And the other thing is, it’s a hard film to make fun of.

Something that is “soft”, meaning with a lot of emotions and feelings, that’s an easy film to make fun of, because it’s “girly”.  Something that is “fun”, with a bunch of over the top stupid plot and action moments, that’s easy to make fun of because it’s “childish”.  For example, the way Jab Harry Met Sejal got viciously taken apart because “nothing happened” and it was “just” a romance and so on and so on, that’s making fun of a movie for being emotional, about feelings, all those things that aren’t “important”.  Or the way Raabta got torn apart for being illogical and over the top, ignoring that it was also just plain fun to watch.

(How can you not enjoy this movie?  Dips makes a cameo as herself with a bunch of shirtless back-up dancers)

But this film is “hard”.  It’s about a serious real issue (not really, but close enough that it feels like it is), and there are no bright colors and no big emotional moments (Salman never cries because his feelings are hurt, for instance), and certainly no hokey pratt falls or big fun song numbers.  It’s the movie equivalent of the serious guy in liquor ads, the one who is all mature and expressionless sipping his brandy or whatever while everyone else has fun around him.  The “cool” guy, who is cool because he never seems to feel anything, or enjoy anything.  And because he is so very very cool, no one wants to make fun of him, it seems like he knows something more than you do, and you should respect that.  Which is this movie.

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(See?  Not funny Saif and Shahrukh in bright t-shirts with big smiles.  Serious Adult Saif and Shahrukh in bland colors with no smiles)

Prepare yourself for a lot of reviews about how refreshing it is that this is a thinking person’s film, there is no emotional drama or over the top scenes, thank goodness no songs to interrupt the film, that Hindi film has “come of age” (again.  It seems like Hindi film comes of age at least once a year).  How Salman surprises with his subtlety, how Katrina is a tough “new” kind of heroine.  And so on and so on.

But, NO!!!!  I REJECT all these compliments!!!!!  Emotional drama and over the top scenes are hard to do, I am not impressed that they were avoided.  I would be more impressed if they were woven in through some kind of organic manner.  And songs, I really really missed the songs!  This was 2 hours of steady tension, I needed the songs.  And I think they would have made the film more enjoyable, given the audience a breather so they could come back refreshed and more fully able to enjoy the action scenes.

(This was the end credits song, and the whole audience stayed for it, which is a sign of how much we wanted something fun)

Oh, and the action scenes were REALLY BORING!!!!  I missed the “fun”.  It was an awful lot of shooting, which is not fun.  Minimal hand to hand stuff, or even clever use of weapons (including guns).  It was also too realistic.  And it didn’t need to be.  I mean, why does violence on film ever need to be realistic?  Because it’s so enjoyable to imagine that the people onscreen are actually being hurt/killed?  What kind of sick person enjoys that?  I will accept it if there is a sense of loss, of meaning, and after effects of the violence.  Agneepath, for instance, that violence made sense to me.  But in something like this, where it is ultimately just an old-fashioned shoot ’em up kind of thing, why do we need to see all the people being shot in the head and so on?  I had way more fun with A Gentleman, Bang Bang, or the original Ek Tha Tiger.  And it felt like everyone was having more fun with those.  The stunt coordinators were pushing themselves to come up with a clever new thing, the actors were having fun playing with props, and the director was having fun moving his camera around to surprise us with unusual angles on what was happening.  But this just felt joyless.

Image result for a gentleman poster

(Fun!  Joyful!  Directors who wanted to make this film and stars who were having fun!)

The whole film felt joyless!  Well, most of it.  Katrina and Salman were magic together.  But weren’t allowed to be together much, because the script was all action-action-action instead of love-love love.  Their two songs were big bright spots, the film came alive during them.  But the rest of the film, it was all practical, intense, serious.  Yuch!

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25 thoughts on “Tiger Zinda Hai Review (No SPOILERS): Not a Fun Move

    • And my life’s goal is accomplished! But you really should watch Ek Tha Tiger if you haven’t yet, it’s very fun and light and clever.

      On Fri, Dec 22, 2017 at 11:11 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. ETT was a romance masquerading as a spy thriller. For that reason, I was very disappointed by it. TZH is a proper spy film with plenty of action, but three dimensional characters and superb acting. I thought of you while I watched it today, thinking you will be disappointed that there is so little romance. But it was always promoted as an action film, so you can’t blame the film. I’m still surprised at your harsh review, which i don’t think is deserved. I thought there were a lot of things you would like about it, even without the romance, but now I won’t bother with your spoiler review, because I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable film, and I don’t want to lose the glow in your pan review.

    For third parties, though, let me say that Katrina has a great role, and delivered a great performance. It is not a case of the “heroine” getting equal importance with the “hero.” It is actually a “two hero” film. Lots of great feminist and humanist messages throughout. But if all you are looking for is mushy romance, you won’t get it. And why would you expect it, anyway? The romance was in their initial meeting and falling in love. This story takes place eight years later, when they’re comfortable and confident in their love for each other, and don’t need to show it in the same way as earlier. Here their love is shown via the deep commitment they have to each other. I think that’s just as romantic. Anyway, to each her own.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t necessarily want every movie to be a romance, but I would like their to be multiple tones to a film. This one felt like it was entirely action, with no lightness to it in any way, and I feel like that made it a weaker film. I don’t want Katrina and Salman to have love scenes together necessarily, but I did notice that they were great fun to watch together onscreen, and I would have liked it if they had more joint missions instead of being separated for much of the film.

      On Sat, Dec 23, 2017 at 12:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Would you want to go back and watch it again? Was there a scene or a moment that you thought “oh wow, that was great, I want to come back see it again and again because it makes me happy”?

      On Sat, Dec 23, 2017 at 2:45 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I know this question wasn’t addressed to me, but as it ended, I thought, I want to see it again! The main constraint for me is that starting today, the weather is going into a deep freeze, the kind where I don’t bother to go out at all if I can help it. But I’m still considering it. And yes, there were several scenes/sequences that I thought were great and want to see again. Since this is the non-spoiler review, I can’t get very specific, but one of them was Katina’s big action sequence and its accompanying song, which I found very, very moving.

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      • I will see it again eventually. I don’t usually to go to multiple viewings of a movie at a cinema. It isn’t the kind of movie that leaves you happy in the way that, say, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi or your favourite Jaan-e-Mann do. There were scenes where I was amused/bemused (wolf fight) and I enjoyed Katrina’s kick-ass scenes. I just found the movie overall to be exciting and action packed. I’m not a huge Salman fan but I liked him in this.

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        • I think it’s the “kind of movie that leaves you happy” that I am missing. I’m not saying every film has to be strictly feel good, in that happy ending kind of way, but i do like those moments of joyousness, just plain fun, being throne in there. And if they aren’t there, I want a reason for it. Like, Neerja I felt deserved to make me sad, if that makes sense, because it was bwased on a true story. But this is a total fiction, they could have chosen to leave me happy if they wanted to. Lakshya say, that was a good movie with decent action scenes and it wasn’t a totally happy silly film, not at all. But it ended in a way that made me leave feeling good about the world.

          On Sat, Dec 23, 2017 at 9:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • What I liked about it was that it did ‘leave me feeling happy.” And it’s not a “total fiction”, it was based on/inspired by real events. Obviously Tiger and his team saving the day was the fiction part (the real life rescue happened via diplomacy). And the name of the terrorist organization was changed, probably for legal/safety reasons. But their activities are also an amalgamation of various real life incidents they conducted.

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  2. Faridoon Sahryar has a different take on the movie, Tiger Zinda Hai. As usual, it just seems to depend on one’s perception of the movie. I for one will watch it and more than likely re-watch it.

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  3. You know, a lot of Indians look forward to movies without song and dance and over the drop drama because, in my opinion, they have grown up watching the same again and again. Hence they appreciate a “Hollywood style” movie with no songs and drama. Whereas, few westerners, like you, enjoy the Indian movies BECAUSE of the songs and drama, which is something you haven’t grown up with. I’ve read lot of non Indian film blogs where the bloggers enjoy even over the top Telugu films with colourful dances, because it’s something novel for them.

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    • From both sides, there is always the novelty of the unknown. But the challenge is to watch enough films so that you can understand what is mere novelty, and what is actual special quality. For me, this film just did not feel like anything special, in a vacuum, as Indian or Hollywood or anything else. It would be a forgotten midlevel action film if it came from Hollywood, and I expect films to be better than that, wherever they come from. Die Hard, for instance, is an action classic not because of the action set pieces, but because it brings together a funny charming every man hero with interpersonal drama, a memorable enjoyable villain, and a straight forward plot that lets the audience enjoy the film as an escape from reality. This film feels more like Die Hard 4, that just went bigger and bigger without ever feeling like there was a real person at the center of it.

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  4. I think with time, as you get more waiting for the next Salman film happening personally for you IRL and then you end up feeling like you’ve seen large parts of that film in the previous Salman film you watched, you’d maybe begin to see what irks me about our superstars.

    Liked by 2 people

    • See, strangely, that wasn’t what bothered me at all. I loved Salman in it, I thought he was the best part of the film. I was angry at the filmmakers who are trying to do something “different” and ended up with something that doesn’t feel Salman-y at all.

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      • So no slo-mo shots of Salman walking? No tight focus shots of his face from these slo-mo sequences? He doesn’t giggle with his whole body? No immature dialogues? No awkward/dance routines? No shots of him just shifting on his feet during a long dialogue?

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      • Since the past few years there is a planned strategy to portray Salman as a normal caring human to negate all the bad boy memories of the past. Being human, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sultan and even a return to Rajshri who gave him his original good boy role Prem.
        this seems to be an extension of the same. Building a brand for the actor via his films and making money in the process. That’s how I view his movies.

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        • This one actually is a bit of a mix. It’s being sold as “humanist” like all his others, but it seeks to unite by teaching us to hate a common enemy which doesn’t feel very in line with his usual “win through love” kind of message the past few years.

          On Wed, Dec 27, 2017 at 10:54 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I didn’t watch the movie yet and – in any way – a review is based on individual perception. The crucial point of this movie seems to be the shooting/killing of an amount of people that the makers obviously found necessary to mark it as an action movie…I somehow can feel with you, Margaret, as exactly this kind of action is a downer for me in a movie…I always (without exception) perceive it as an abundance of unnecessary violence, because a movie tells a story about people and their interactions…and if one part of this interaction is repeated mass-killing or killing at close range there can be ‘nice’ or ‘meaningful’ sequences as well, they would not counterbalance crude Hollywood-style shooting-violence. The mission of the story may have been fulfilled, the mission to entertain me or to make me think has failed.
    And honestly, does Salman really need those guns and shootings to be manly???

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    • Exactly! the question is, was the violence meaningful in someway? Enjoyable, inventive, interesting to watch? Or at least, supported by narrative necessity? Which is, as you say, a judgement call on the part of the viewer to some degree. But to my mind it was not meaningful or necessary, and the film would have been better if there had been something else to balance the violence.

      Also, Merry Christmas again!

      On Mon, Dec 25, 2017 at 3:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I bet I’ve seen hundreds of movies where war-like violence was a subject…and yes, there could be a meaning in it that serves the story to tell.
        However, intuitively, I doubt the shooting & excessive killing in TZH (from Salman’s or Katrina’s side) serve a purpose beyond giving both of them a hero-kind image… in my eyes, Salman in BB is more of a hero than in a movie like TZH. And I hate it when a real life incident is used to glorify something that didn’t happen and is – in my mind – a pretexte to make a hero out of a man with a machine-gun. No wide range weapon, never ever, makes a man (or a woman) a hero.

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