Yes, I am aware that is an extreme statement in the headline. But I stand by it! Tiger and Hrithik have successfully out-gayed Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. If that sentence intrigues and excites you, you should watch this movie. If it makes you go “huh? wha? Top Gun was gay?” than this film is operating on a whole other level that you may never grasp, and this review is not for you. SO GAY!!!!
I considered saying “(but not in a bad way)” in the headline, but then I thought no, even that is wrong because it implies there could be a bad way to be gay, which isn’t true. This movie is SO GAY, and that is, obviously, a beautiful wonderful very entertaining thing.
Tiger is fragile and earnest and innocent. Hrithik is cocky and sexy with a half smile. Their eyes meet, and neither can look away. Tiger’s feelings show all too clearly in his face, Hrithik laughs at himself for being so drawn to this innocent boy and yet keeps turning back to smile at him. Hrithik resists trusting him, resists believing in his feelings. But after their first fight together, when Hrithik (shirt torn off his body to reveal his gleaming oiled muscles) reaches down his hand to pull Tiger up off the ground, there is no turning back. Hrithik calls him away from the others that night to sit with him in his private office, his shirt tantalizingly undone to the waist, and reveals that he knows his secret. That thing Tiger has known about himself since he went to all boys school. And it’s okay, they can keep that secret between them, like men, it will be a bond they share. And then they dance together.
No, that’s not fanfic, that is a literal description of the first hour of this movie. It is a beautiful beautiful thing. SO GAY.
The filmmakers are having fun with it too. Within the first 15 minutes, someone says to Tiger like it is a fact they all know “You love him” and Tiger looks down in acknowledgement. Later they joke about eloping together. Towards the end of the film, Tiger picks Hrithik up in his arms and carries him. There are so many moments when they almost kiss, I lost count. But I know it happened enough for me to realize that Tiger is slightly shorter than Hrithik, just the right difference for his head to tilt up slightly just before their lips touch. Only their lips (tragically) never actually touch.
There’s the fun bits, but also the plot literally does not make sense unless we accept that Hrithik and Tiger are in love. There’s blindspots in both characters that only work if they are blinded by love, and there is also a weird passion between them that makes them go against all rules and logic. And that ALSO makes no sense if they aren’t in love. And just the basic fact that the two characters meet only shortly before the film starts and yet already have this passionate bond and deep knowledge of each other, the kind of little things you learn in pillow talk.
The thing is, if it wasn’t SUPER GAY this would be kind of a boring movie. The plot’s ridiculous, but who cares, it’s an action movie so the plot is supposed to be ridiculous. There are a few spectacular action set pieces, but also long boring gaps between them. What keeps it humming along and makes it work is the Hrithik-Tiger chemistry. That must have become clear at some point in the production because I can see hints of a different kind of movie that they dumped in favor of All Hrithik-Tiger All the Time. Poor Vaani Kapoor has 15 minutes of screentime. Really nothing is there. Soni Razdan has maybe 5 minutes. Both of those plots could have easily been expanded to something substantial but instead it feels like they were cut down. Worst of all, the villain is boring! How dare they have a boring villain. If the film were the standard three-hander of hero-villain-romance, it would be terrible. But instead it is hero-hero-sexy-sexy-romance-action.
The Tiger-Hrithik love story is also important because it ties together a bunch of really poorly connected bits of scenes. Tiger gets a couple of action sequences (especially his intro scene) that feel almost disconnected from the rest of the film. The camera style is different, there is no background music, it’s just weird. And having them dropped into the middle of things is weirder. The timeline does not track AT ALL, and they keep giving us little anchors like “6 months earlier” or “2 years earlier” but when you try to add up the months and years combined with the plot, it makes no sense. And the characters are all over the place even more than you would expect for this kind of fluffy action film. And yet somehow it hobbles along thanks to the Tiger-Hrithik love connection. And that love connection hobbles along mostly thanks to Hrithik.
Good God is Hrithik charming in this!!!!! Forget the promos, this is 100% a Hrithik Roshan movie. Tiger is a poor second to him. Hrithik edges him out with screentime, motivation, character backstory, and action scenes. Plus the script itself makes clear that Tiger is a decent up and comer but Hrithik is really in charge. And Hrithik just floats through it, doesn’t even break a sweat. The man is a born movie star. He crinkles his brow, he flips his hand, and I am fascinated. Plus, the camera loves his face. And with him, with age has come experience. He knows exactly how to play this role and make it work, and boy does it work!
I’m fascinated by how YRF knew that. When this film started being made, Hrithik was a “has been”, multiple flops in a row. And Tiger had just had the surprise hit of Baaghi 2 and was the hottest thing around. And yet start to finish this is clearly a Hrithik film. YRF knew he was going to come back, knew to put their money on him. Sure Tiger got a couple fight scenes added last minute, but that didn’t change the essential script and the script makes Hrithik the lead. As he should be, but who would have been brave enough to take that risk after Mohenjo Daro, after Kaabil? Aditya Chopra I guess, the man knows his movie stars.
So, yes, you should watch it. If you like oiled up men making manly faces at each other, ridiculous airplane jumping action scenes, and (miracle of miracles) a non-Islamophobic Hindi action film. If you like clever dialogue, subtle performances, man-woman romances, and internal plot logic, than probably not for you.