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‘Tiger 3’ Review: Kept Afloat Mainly by the Salman Khan & Katrina Kaif Effect

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

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Jab tak Tiger mara nahi, tab tak woh hara nahi,” proclaims an exhausted but barely bruised Salman Khan in perhaps his most iconic avatar, that of RAW agent Tiger. I hope that is true. Filmmaker Maneesh Sharma follows Kabir Khan and Abbas Ali Zafar to helm the third installment of the Tiger franchise (I’m not sure where it lies in the ‘Spy Universe’) and there is something just lackluster about it. 

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

Salman Khan in a still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

This time around, Tiger and his wife Zoya (Katrina Kaif), an ex-ISI agent are dealing with a moral and ethical dilemma in the midst of caring for their ailing son. The duo is tasked with retrieving a suitcase and peace talks between India and Pakistan hang in the balance. It isn’t an outwardly unusual premise, even within the Spy Universe so there’s not much novelty to be seen there. 

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I digress but why does the film have such a boring name? What happened to names like ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’? Why not try our hand at a Tiger 3: Kab Tak Hai Jaan? 

However, both Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif balance the film’s first half on their star status. Khan’s entry, though not remotely as massy as one would’ve hoped, still elicited the hoots one would expect from the star. When it comes to the action genre, Salman Khan has created a niche for himself but it’s a pity that he feels rather underutilised in Tiger 3.

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

Salman Khan in a still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

He still looks at the camera with the same ‘swagger’ as before and he kicks and punches with gusto though you can clearly see the strain time has taken on Tiger, both as an agent and a man. And yet there are times when it feels like he is saying and doing nothing - some action sequences are carried out with nary a sigh, not even an attempt to make it feel real.

A lot of the charm in films like Leo or Jailer comes from the fact that the actors are playing their age; that simple aspect adds so much to the story. But the way these films invested in that aspect is missing here. 

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When Salman tears up at the notion of having to hurt someone he loves, the scene almost pulls you in because how often have we seen Tiger cry? But this scene gets lost in the noise. Though some of the fight sequences are set well, the choreography feels rushed in places – why don’t the emotional stakes the characters are dealing with reflect in their mission? It is mentioned that this mission is ‘personal’ so why is the ‘person’ missing? 

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

A still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Think of the action sequences where a parent fights and meets their child’s eyes mid-battle, the desperation to save their life palpable. Of the set pieces where Bollywood mothers would yell at their son to stop fighting (as weird as that decision was in hindsight) and the hero would hesitate.

Bollywood has always been an industry where we have attempted to always keep emotions alive in cinema, even when it feels unnecessary. Here, we needed that Bollywood. 
‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

Katrina Kaif in a still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

There are glimpses of it in the camaraderie between Tiger and Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan). When both the heroes, one brain and the other brawn, fight and kid together, it’s like getting a glimpse into what this film could’ve been. The potential is hiding right under the surface. 

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Emraan Hashmi as the film’s primary antagonist, who is a crucial part of Zoya’s backstory, is just not scary enough though his motivations might be. The writing doesn’t do him any favours even though it does feel like Hashmi is trying to put life into the role. But most of the character’s best scenes come from his relationship with Zoya. 

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

Emraan Hashmi in a still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The film’s first half, like I said, is its best part. The pace is measured enough to keep you hooked – we shift from one location to another, get a glimpse into Zoya’s past, are introduced to our antagonist (played by Emraan Hashmi), motivations and rescue missions are uncovered and carried out, and we also see how comfortably Tiger and Zoya have adapted to their newfound domesticity.

Salman Khan is in his comfort zone but so is Kaif apparently – she shines in the action sequences with the body language of an assassin.

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Despite the choppy editing and the inconsistent cinematography, she makes the Zoya persona work, which is a relief considering she is sparring with Michelle Lee in a scene. While I was mesmerised by the chemistry the two fighters exude in the scene, I can’t wrap my head (pun unintended) around why they’re fighting in towels. 

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

Katrina Kaif in a still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Tiger 3 is one of those films that didn’t need to have relied on pure action – the love story between Tiger and Zoya is the Tiger franchise’s main attraction. Instead, Tiger 3 focuses on a heady mix of a saviour complex and exposition. 

Despite new additions to the roster like Revathi, Anand Vidhat Sharma, and Chandrachoor Rai carrying their share of the weight and older, familiar faces like Ranvir Shorey and Kumud Mishra returning to the mix, Tiger 3 just doesn’t have the thrill and chutzpah required to make the story work. 

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I do not expect logic from action films – sometimes most of the fun in the genre comes from bending some rules of physics. But to make that suspension of disbelief possible, the direction and the cinematography must convince the audience that the risk is worth the reward. The unnecessary close-ups and the scattershot editing in the action scenes keeps reminding you that you’re watching a piece of cinema. 

‘Tiger 3’ starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif hit theatres on 12 November.

Salman Khan in a still from Tiger 3.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

As things stand, Ek Tha Tiger is still the franchise’s best offering with the second film standing closely behind. The third? It’s on shaky footing. 

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Topics:  Salman Khan   Katrina Kaif   Emraan Hashmi 

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