Baaghi 3 looks very bleak and angry and violent. Baaghi 1, surprisingly not any of those things! Just a happy love story, with a bit of a love triangle on top of it, that leads to a lengthy martial arts (not guns) ending fight scene.
So, here’s the thing, this is either the most original or the most unoriginal movie I have ever seen. On the one hand, it lifts scenes shot for shot from at least two movies (the two I have seen before), and I am sure the remaining 40 minutes of the film were lifted from some other movies I haven’t happened to have seen. But on the other hand, these are really odd movies to throw together, which somehow makes it feel original!
Also original, the whole film crew is able to more or less handle the switches between these very different film genres and very different film styles. I mean, we have a classic martial arts chase, complete with the multi-angle reruns so you can see there were no wires or props, and on the other hand we have a classic romantic rain song.
The heroine is kind of great and original too. She is introduced with a fight scene! And she gets another big one at the end. Shraddha Kapoor does the usually “Huh! Not that bad!” job that I am used to from her. Of course, I’ve never really seen her stretch herself, so I don’t know if she is possible of doing something better than just “not that bad”. Someday, possibly, I might actually watch Haider, and then I will know!
The hero is kind of completely unoriginal. But, you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! He’s a rebel, who learns to be strong and adult through adversity and falling in love. Tiger Shroff does an okay job, I guess. He is a little hammy and a little boyish, but he’s charismatic enough. And his dancing and fighting is really amazing.
My friend who I went with thinks he could be the next Hrithik, because he is so pretty and such a good dancer. I’m thinking, more like an emergency back-up younger Akshay. Someone who can actually do their own stunts and make your jaw drop to the floor when you see them. The point is, he isn’t anything right now. He’s just someone who could be something, in a few more years and a few more films.
But this is a good stepping stone film! It makes both him and Shraddha look good, it’s a pleasant time-pass, and I won’t be buying it on DVD, but if it lands on one of the streaming sites, I might show it at one of my movie nights so we can all cheer during the fight scenes, and complain about our jobs during all the other scenes.
Oh, and also, once again, they cut the big hit dance song!!!! What is up with that?!?!? No “Premika”, No “Let’s Nacho”, no “Jabra Fan”, and now no “Let’s Talk About Love”!
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
I mentioned in my non-spoiler review that this movie is just a patchwork of other films. And it really really is! The first ten minutes are just shot for shot Prabhas’ first film, Varsham. And then it switches to following our hero at Kung Fu school, which I couldn’t recognize as specifically related to a movie I have seen but I am sure is ripped off from somewhere as well, then back to Varsham when he meets the girl again, then school, then Varsham, and so on. And then right after intermission, suddenly there are about 20 minutes from Ong Bak: Thai Warrior (the first underground fight scene, and the chase scene). And then there is a bit at a hospital that felt vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t remember where I saw it before. And then we end with The Raid: Redemption. Which I haven’t seen yet, but I know the one sentence plot description is “hero fights his way up floors of a highrise facing different fighting styles on each floor.” Which is exactly what happens in the last 20 minutes of Baaghi.
But, none of that was necessarily a problem for me! I liked Varsham, and it was kind of cool to see it re-imagined, striped down, and done in Hindi. I liked Ong Bak too, and filming that chase is a triumph of skill even if it isn’t original. And doing that chase is really a triumph Tiger Shroff. Sure, he skipped the hardest part, leaping between two planes of glass, but he did all the other impossible bits!
What is a problem is the kind of character acrobatics necessary to make all these films fit together. Our hero comes off the best, because he is just goodhearted bad boy turns controlled and responsible. But it is still a bit odd to see him jumping from a love song to a training montage. Especially because part of the training is supposed to be that he is forced to do menial chores morning to night. So, when does he even have time for romance?
And there’s the issue that he turns into a completely different person in every way, except in his romance. One of the things I really liked about Varsham is that our hero was perfect all along. He was already a super fighter and a super human, there was no big break between the first and second half when he comes back into her life. And there was no big break in her life either, she was just kind of sad for a bit and he was kind of bitter, but otherwise they had the same personalities as always. But in this, we are told at the school that he is a “Baaghi”, that he is going down a bad path, that he needs a huge training montage to learn discipline and meaning in life and so on. So, why did she fall in love with him if he was such a disaster? Or, on the other hand, why is she still in love with him when he turns up again, having become a totally different person? Especially since she still hasn’t changed and is the same perky confident light hearted girl as before!
The biggest problem though is with the villain. Because in order for all of these plots to fit together, he has to be the noble and respected rival at the Kung Fu school. And the hopelessly in love and with some principles rival from Varsham. And then bam! Suddenly he isn’t a noble rival at school, he’s just terrible and father-killing! But at least the romance motive stays, that’s why he killed his father, and he is still only interested in marriage, and is almost kind of sweet and shy with her, and can forgive her anything, even when she beats up his goons. Until suddenly he can’t, so we can have the big final battle.
This is what caused the little girl sitting in front of me to keep piping up and asking “Mama mama! When did he turn bad? Why is he so bad?”
Yes! Why is he so bad? So suddenly? It would almost make more sense if they gave him a sudden brain injury or something to change his entire personality. Part of the problem is that the actor is almost too good in the role. Sudheer Babu, from the Telugu industry, has plenty of charisma and personality himself, and he really sells the “hopelessly in love” part of it. I was kind of sympathizing with him! And then suddenly I wasn’t allowed to any more, because they made him evil-evil-evil.
But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because his constantly escalating evilness gave us a great series of fight scenes (including one with Urumis! (fwippy swords)). Which is the real point of the movie.