How Different Is Salman Khan’s ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ From ‘Take Off’?
‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ expectedly orbits around Bhai while ‘Take Off’ gives us a robust female protagonist in Parvathy.
At the onset, let’s state the obvious - A ‘Salman Khan’ film is usually meant to gratify Bhai fans. You will barely take away anything of value from the film if you nurture a derision for the blockbuster formula.
Once we establish this context, we can dive deep into the differences between the Malayalam film, Take Off starring Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil and Kunchacko Boban, that came before and Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel of Ek Tha Tiger. The former is directed by debutante, Mahesh Narayan and the latter is an Ali Abbas Zafar directorial.
But unlike most high-octane Bhai films, this one surprises with subtle subversions a la Bajrangi Bhaijaan as RAW and ISI unite in a mission against a common enemy.
The common denominator between the two is a real event. In 2014, a little after the Modi government came into power, 46 Indian nurses were held captive in Iraq by ISIS. Indian diplomatic officers pulled off a secretive and successful rescue operation in Saddam Hussein’s battle ravaged hometown, Tikrit.
Both the films are fictional retellings of the incident. For starters, watch Tiger Zinda Hai first and follow it up with Take Off because one should save the best for last.
1. Large-Scale Action Film vs. Slow Burn Thriller
If it’s a Salman Khan film, no stone is left unturned in showcasing his bravado. In this film, there’s a dash of chest-thumping jingoism as well, thanks to the theme. Expect to see vehicles blowing up in this version of a near-war zone. A ‘masala’ blockbuster, Tiger Zinda Hai splatters its story with romance, gimmicky stunts and its high production value.
In a departure from Salman’s previous outings, the meatiest action sequence though, goes to the leading lady, and Katrina Kaif is agreeably badass. Tiger Zinda Hai takes no time in getting to the point as the crisis in Iraq starts unfolding right from the start - the first scene of the film.Take Off, on the other hand is more interested in tugging at our heartstrings and taking us into the mind of one of the nurses, replete with her struggles and motivations in the first half of the film.
After we are emotionally invested in her character, the do-or-die scenario unravels like a ticking tomb without gun-toting Indian officials. It relies on simple storytelling. The human story languidly simmers and comes to a perfect boil as a thriller in the second half.
2. Rescuer vs. Protagonist
Who’s the protagonist in Tiger Zinda Hai? No prizes for guessing that a Bhai film orbits around Bhai. The ordeal of the captive nurses largely unfurls from the point of view of Tiger, a RAW agent who is responsible for executing the rescue mission with ISI agent and wife Zoya.
Naturally, every trick in the book is employed to make Salman Khan appear like the brawny saviour that they desperately need. Bhai and his crew navigate the obstacles they encounter on their mission with the dexterity of an Avengers squad. But we don’t get a substantial glimpse into the minds of the abductees. While Take Off is the story of an ordinary woman acting with extraordinary courage out of the helplessness of having no other choice. Like any protagonist worth her mettle, the odds are stacked against her.
The civil war in a country that’s not her own acts like a metaphor for the warzone, that is her personal life. Divorced, remarried, pregnant and toiling to pay off the debts her parents incurred for her education, she finally rises to the occasion and becomes instrumental in her own rescue operation and that of the other nurses trapped with her. “How long can I live in fear?”she says.
3. Realism vs. OTT violence
Tiger Zinda Hai’s biggest strength is its scale but it sacrifices realism at the altar of grandeur. While the Iraq depicted in the film has some exotic undertones, the Iraq in Take Off portrays the bleak emptiness of the war torn landscape of Tikrit and is effective in evoking relentless dread, that is required of a thriller.
For a movie that speaks of ‘peace’, Tiger Zinda Hai relies a lot on violence to deliver the thrills. Bhai gets his shirtless moment in the sun and also enjoys a brawl with a pack of wolves.
Stripped of glamour, Parvathy amps up the thrill of Take Off with her no makeup look and her gradual buildup of courage. The film’s tone is devoid of any showboating. Subtlety is its specialty.
The real rescue mission is known to have been a great win in the Indian diplomatic history for its pure reliance on negotiation, helmed by Ashok Kumar (Manoj Kumar in the film) Indian ambassador in Baghdad. Take Off gives the agency to the women who underwent the ordeal; the ambassador orchestrates their escape but does not get centre-stage.
Take Off retain its gritty fervour as it does not shy away from naming the terrorist organisation. In Tiger Zinda Hai, ISIS becomes ISE and Tikrit is Ikrit.
4. Fun While It Lasts vs. Lasting Emotional Impact
The difference between Tiger Zinda Hai and Take Off is largely like the feeling that a meal leaves you with. The former is more is like junk food while the latter leaves you sated.
Tiger Zinda Hai is a big screen watch but it treads only tentatively in a new direction. Though Katrina may have kicked butt, she is relegated to the status of Bhabhi and goes back to playing second fiddle to Bhai.
Paresh Rawal and Kumud Mishra stand out from the rest of the crew and lend Tiger Zinda Hai the humour of a masala film but Take Off steers clear of a circus, as the action singularly follows the bunch of nurses.
Without a strong emotional core, Tiger Zinda Hai comes across as uninspired, with no one to root for. While Take Off not only explores a geopolitical situation and draws attention to the plight of nurses in India, it gives us a robust and memorable female protagonist.
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