Cast: Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Sudheer Babu
Director: Sabbir Khan
Baaghi is a mostly ridiculous film powered by the poetry of Tiger Shroff. Tiger is the platonic idea of a Bollywood action hero. He romances and dances with utter conviction. His expressions wobble in dramatic scenes but his sincerity carries him through. And then there's the action. Tiger breaks bones with the grace of a ballet dancer. He pirouettes and swivels and glides and back-flips with such elegance that you are forced to stay interested in this hare-brained mishmash of a movie.
Director Sabbir Khan's strategy seems to be, when in doubt, showcase the abs. So as often as he can, he puts Tiger's chiselled, granite body on display. In fact, Baaghi is one of those rare films in which the hero's body is more fetishised than the heroine's. Is this some warped version of gender equality?
There has been a lot of conversation about Baaghi being a copy of the blockbuster Indonesian action film The Raid: Redemption. Yes, the idea of the villain holed up in the top floor of a building echoes that film. But Baaghi's romantic track comes from a Telugu film starring Prabhas called Varsham. Here too, the heroine Siya (Shraddha Kapoor) is obsessed with the rain. The boy Ronny (Tiger) and her meet on a train. There's a good-for-nothing, conniving, greedy father who keeps them apart. And a powerful villain Raghav who also falls in love with Siya and will go to any lengths to get her, including kidnapping.
Producer Sajid Nadiadwala bought the rights for Varsham and entire sequences have been recreated. Sabbir and his writer Sanjeev Dutta also throw in a pinch of The Karate Kid – at the beginning, Ronny is an arrogant brat but a martial arts guru in Kerala teaches him the art of being a moral warrior.
The characters have all the depth of stick figures so it's best to focus on the action sequences, which are beautifully choreographed. But the action doesn't grip you because you are never truly afraid for Ronny. I knew that no matter how many international warriors Raghav stacked up on each floor of his building, Ronny would eventually make a bhurji out of them. There is no fear, and therefore little excitement.
Though it was fun to watch Shraddha punch out some of the baddies, I wish her character had more substance – this could have been the Ramayan reworking where Sita takes charge. But no such luck. Siya is too simpering to be fiery or fun.
I also enjoyed Sudheer Babu as the baddie – especially in the end when he decides that he's had enough of both the lovers. And watch out for Kazu Patrick Tang, who's become the go-to sidekick for Bollywood action films. He played Atilla in Rocky Handsome. Here he's saddled with a bad wig and a silly name, Yong – he's also referred to as a 'China se import kiya hua killing machine'. But he gets to show off some nimble moves.
Baaghi will best serve people who are interested in moves rather than movies.