UGH! This was so FRUSTRATING! In my No Spoilers review I talked about how it is like a bad 90s movie, but such a mess and without standardized character types and things that it wasn’t fun-bad, it was just confusing 2020s bad. Now, in the SPOILERS review, I get to talk about how if it had been cast with actors who had the charisma and charm and willingness to go all in that is required, it could have worked. But Tara Sutaria is where charm goes to die, and Tiger struggles with…..everything.
Plot in clear terms:
This isn’t how the movie played it out, because the movie was SUPER confusing and impossible to follow, so I had to reverse engineer the plot for myself to figure it out. Tiger was a Super Hacker who skated outside the law when he was recruited by the Indian Secret Service to take down Nawazuddin Shah, a computer criminal planning a massive identity theft/bank heist. Coincidentally, Tiger met Nawazuddin’s spoiled sister Tara Sutaria that same day and they started dating. Tara introduced him to Nawazuddin and Tiger takes the job coordinating the huge identity theft stealing plan. He becomes rich and successful. But then meets Amrita Singh, who’s husband killed himself after losing all his money in the bank heist. Tiger has a change of heart and turns off the hacking program. The ISS help him go on the run, and he takes Amrita (his adopted “mother”) with him to England where he plays the part of a shy innocent boy. But then Tara sees him and recognizes him. Tara chases after him at the same time that Nawazuddin’s gang has tracked him down and is chasing him too. After a lot of on-the-run moments, he is finally face to face with Nawazuddin again and manages to defeat him and turn off the hacking program again just before it is re-activated.
If that sounds messy, believe me, it is SO MUCH MORE MESSY in the film. For one thing, they keep wanting that A Gentleman vibe of “he seems like a normal dude but secretly is playing them all!” Which means you are never actually sure what Tiger is thinking/feeling. And not in a good way. Like, did he start dating Tara because she was Nawazuddin’s sister and he wanted to work for Nawazuddin? Or was that a coincidence? Was he ever actually afraid of being found by the bad guys? Because he seemed afraid, but then he did the “secret smile and turn and fight them all” thing over and over again. But if he wasn’t actually afraid, why did he go off to hide in England in the first place? Like, it’s one thing to have a reveal of “aha! It was all a masterplan!” and another thing to just have the hero pretend to be afraid for no apparent reason when he wasn’t actually afraid.
For another thing, the original Crime DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. The whole idea is “I will trick everyone into downloading irresistible apps on their phones and then steal all the money from their bank accounts”. But, couldn’t you just SELL APPS??? Also, if you are stealing all the money from bank accounts, and I don’t want this to sound terribly insulting, but why would you steal from Indian bank accounts? It’s not the most wealthiest country, you know? And it’s an utterly unsustainable plan, because if you steal all the money from everyone, there’s no more money left to steal. Final problem, the whole plot movement is supposed to be “our hero was blind to the harm and then his eyes were opened”. But this isn’t like alcohol smuggling or something! The harm of a plan to defraud millions of people of their life savings is PRETTY CLEAR FROM THE START. It’s just DUMB.
The heroine is where I really lose it. I kept thinking about if Juhi or Kajol or Kriti or Kiara had played her. She is supposed to be “super loud spoiled rich brat with a heart of gold”. But that ONLY works if a) the actress is so charming you enjoy watching her even while she is being a brat and b) the actress is talented enough to convey “I am being bratty but it is because of secret insecurities and actually I am nice”. It’s a terribly horribly written character, the jump between brat and loving is insane, but it’s also kind of a classic Hindi film heroine and good actresses can make this sort of mess a delight to watch. But Tara Sutaria is NOT that actress. I hated the director for giving her this disaster of a character, but I really hated Tara for not making any effort at all to make her work. Instead, you just have a nails on a chalkboard unpleasant person in a way that insults me as a woman. It’s your classic “wait, our hero has this whole journey of feeling guilty for profiting off the poor and stuff but the heroine never has to care because woman are incapable of having souls” kind of feel. She is mean to the point of sociopathic, with seeming no emotions of any kind beyond an odd possessiveness for the hero, and this is what our hero likes. No, this is apparently what ALL WOMAN are like (except for Mother), so it’s okay. WHAT THE HECK???
There’s so much else bad in this movie, the fight scenes are dull dull dull and make me question if Tiger can do anything beyond the same two moves. Nawazuddin has great costumes and is fun to watch, but his villainous plot and motivations are so all over the place I can’t fully enjoy watching him. The flashback-flashforward structure is a disaster, impossible to follow what is in the past and the present. The songs are moderately entertaining, but at the same time somehow feel totally unoriginal. And yet it is Tara’s character and performance that puts this over the line from background noise irritation to Active Hatred for me. Tiger’s character is a mess too, but at least I can see where he was trying to make it work. Tara just has bangs and then not-bangs, and that’s the extent of her acting.
So, here is where I officially say, Nepotism Works. SOTY 2 launched 2 actresses, one of them from an acting family and one not. Ananya Panday is charming and relatable onscreen, works hard to bring out hidden layers to her characters, and has gotten better in every film. And she works HARD. Tara Sutaria was barely watchable in SOTY and, based on this film, has descended to lazy unthinking skating through whatever the director tells her and no character work at all. Acting isn’t just some fun hobby you do where you are sexy onscreen. It’s a freakin’ JOB! Treat it like a job!
Okay, apparently I have more emotions about this film than I expected.