Director: Ahmed Khan
Cast: Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani, Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda, Darshan Kumar, Prateik Babbar
Baaghi 2 is a faithful remake of the 2016 Telugu thriller Kshanam. But since the leading man is Tiger Shroff, the protagonist changes from an investment banker to an army commando. Because if Tiger doesn’t break bones, leap into helicopters and single-handedly defeat dozens of armed bad guys, would we even recognize him? What is the point of that painstakingly chiseled body if we don’t see it being put to good use?
So director Ahmed Khan, who is also credited as action designer, takes a gripping story – the original was written by Adivi Sesh – and tacks on mind-numbingly long action sequences. The 16 minute climax is so drawn out that it feels like a separate movie. Since Tiger is also an excellent dancer and Ahmed is also a lauded choreographer, we are also saddled with songs that only slow down the film – the worst offender of course is the remix of Ek Do Teen, which reduces a Bollywood classic to calisthenics. Jacqueline Fernandez’s carb-defying abs are a marvel but the rest of this is utterly forgettable.
What holds is the narrative about a missing three-year-old child. A young mother Neha calls her ex-boyfriend Ronny to seek his help in finding her daughter. Not only is the little girl missing but it seems doubtful that she ever existed. As Ronny tries to unravel the mystery, he too starts to wonder, if Neha telling the truth. The narrative is further complicated by Neha’s suspicious husband, her drug-addict brother-in-law, a limping garage owner who clearly knows more than he’s telling and a slew of intriguing police officers – Manoj Bajpayee , hamming away as the DIG and Randeep Hooda, clearly having a blast, as the eccentric LSD.
Because if Tiger doesn’t break bones, leap into helicopters and single-handedly defeat dozens of armed bad guys, would we even recognize him? What is the point of that painstakingly chiseled body if we don’t see it being put to good use?
As long as Ahmed sticks to the Telugu original, Baaghi 2 works. The narrative twists and turns. Flashbacks reveal why Ronny and Neha parted and the action doesn’t overpower the story-telling. I will also admit that in small doses, it’s a joy to watch Tiger pummelling people – when he unleashed his wrath on a lecherous cop, I thought, every woman should have her own personal Tiger.
But this balance between punches and plot derails in the second half. As the body count mounts, the film’s hold loosens. As does the logic keeping the narrative together. When all is revealed, too many questions remain.
Of course the one question that you can never ask is why are the bad guys such bad shooters. Tiger goes up against an entire army of men with guns but no one can singe a hair on his head. As one of them says, ‘he’s unstoppable.’ The good thing is that Tiger is wholly convincing at seeming unstoppable. His physical prowess is formidable. His acting is simplistic but he rides on sincerity. For more complex expression, you can turn to the talented men surrounding him – there’s also Deepak Dobriyal and Darshan Kumar. Disha Patani, the lone woman in the mix, is lovely to look at but her acting is as wobbly as the continuity in the film.
Also, a request to directors, please don’t use the very complex conflict in Kashmir as a prop to establish heroism – the casual reference here to human shields is offensive. Still, all things considered, Baaghi 2 is an improvement on the generic Tiger action movie. At least the action is grounded in some emotion.