BAAGHI 2 (2018)

Baaghi 2 is a remake of the Telugu hit Kshanam. It follows the story more or less faithfully only adding a few characters and a few sequences here and there. Where it differs from Kshanam is in its treatment and its unabashed action. While the protagonist in Kshanam was an investment banker, our Tiger here is a captain in the Indian Army. He is called upon by his long lost love Neha (Disha Patani) who tells him that her daughter has been kidnapped and asks for his help to find her as no one seems to believe that she even had a daughter. Tiger being the Tiger that he is, obliges and kick starts a mayhem that culminates in one of the biggest one-man Vs an army routine that I have seen in Bollywood in a very long time.

If you are walking into this film, you must teach yourself not to ask “what”, “why” and “how”. If you are able to do that, chances are you will have a pretty good time with this film. I believe by this time anyone and everyone walking into a film called Baaghi 2 starring Tiger Shroff and directed by Ahmed Khan (best known for being a choreographer) knows what to expect. The success of this film for me depends not on this film turning out reasonable, good or earth shattering but on the degree to which it delivers what it promised in the first place.

The plot is interesting. For all those who haven’t seen the original, this will be a moderately intriguing watch as they will not be able to predict the story atleast till the interval point. Once you have the story in place, the next thing that comes to the mind is the performances. Tiger Shroff is sincere and he is definitely getting better. Here he plays a character that is definitely not right up his alley. He does well to look brooding and intense. Sure there were some hiccups in the emotional scenes but they were overshadowed by his spirited turn in the action sequences and his tank-like physicality.

He is terrific in the action sequences. He moves like a pro and he does so in style. Due credit has to be given to the action choreographer who did a pretty decent job at envisioning some interesting set pieces that are not only pretty to look at but also deliver enough firepower to keep you interested. I particularly loved the little action sequence in the police station. That I believe was the best looking and best set up action sequence in the whole film. The climax was not bad but I could spot some leverage that the editing team took to keep a tab on the budget or to simply give Tiger a breather. They were evident and after treating us with some really good action set pieces in the first half, this felt like a letdown.

Baaghi 2 has some decent performances from Randeep Hooda, Manoj Bajpayee, Deepak Dobriyal and Prateik Babbar. They are all over the top. They are all theatrical and yet they are perfectly suited for an equally insane film. Randeep’s character is called Loha Singh Dhull aka LSD and he dresses like a stoner. Not only he dresses that way, he doesn’t mind smoking a joint on duty. Deepak is a Hyderabadi in Goa who when asked whether he will give testimony in court against baddies replies that he is ready to speak even wearing a Lungi (Sarong), confusing Court for Coat. Manoj Bajpayee is his uber cool self and I always enjoy his act. Disha Patani is a pretty face and that’s all she is reduced to.

The original film’s culmination left me unsatisfied and since this film follows the same story, it also has the same issues. Apart from that, the film is definitely too long. There are atleast 4 songs of which they could have easily cut out 3. These unnecessary flashbacks and the songs that come with it dent the film’s grizzled feel and take you completely out of its mojo. This is the kind of film that should have been max 2 hours, shot documentary style and been devoid of any songs. They should have kept the narrative tight and rid the screenplay of any light moments. The story in itself is sad. A failed love, a lost child, and a hopeless cause. Where is the room for light moments?  But that is something that the makers found hard to accept and inculcate and hence we even have an “Ek do teen” recreation performed by Jacqueline Fernandez.

People are going to great lengths to ridicule the number sighting it as blasphemous to the original. I felt no such contempt though. Madhuri Dixit’s version was an item number too and not a Sathiya Kala Academy winning master composition and performance. So is this one. I neither liked the original nor this version. And we should leave it at what it is. A mindless item number that only slows down the narrative.

Baaghi 2 is a self-aware film. It knows what it is and it knows what the people are looking for. The director does well enough to serve people on a platter a large dose of action, Tiger-ism, some mild dose of thrills and also some romance here and there. Tiger’s earnest act, the free-flowing action, the supporting cast, and an interesting story are some of the reasons that make this version of Baaghi endlessly better than its predecessor. It will not be wrong to say that this might just be Tiger’s best act to date. If he is able to do so well under dance masters who think they are directors (Ahmed Khan, Remo D’Souza), it will be interesting to see what he can achieve under a real director.

It’s easy for me to rip apart this film as it is flawed in so many ways but that’s just not the right attitude for a film like this. It didn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is. Thus when you walk into it, you are not coxed into it rather who know what to expect. Hence the nagging and complaining is unnecessary and unwarranted.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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