Tiger 3: strictly for Salmaniacs

Despite falling short in comparison to the first two instalments, Tiger 3 is better than Salman's recent films which reeked of self-indulgence

(Photo: @navneet_mundhra/ X)
(Photo: @navneet_mundhra/ X)

Subhash K Jha

Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Emraan Hashmi, Revathi, Riddhi Dogra

Directed by: Maneesh Sharma

Rating: ***

The good news first. Tiger 3 is infinitely better than all of Salman Khan's recent films which reeked of self-indulgence. As Avinash Singh Rathore alias Tiger, Salman is more in-character than you have seen him in any film since Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015).

Now the bad news: Tiger 3 is not half as engaging as the first two instalments of the franchise. The tactile tension of the first two parts is conspicuously absent this time, as if the heart has gone missing from the action. The overwrought narrative is carpeted with stylish stunts. But they all seem… stunted! There is a lack of spontaneity and, dare I say, vivacity in Salman’s action moves. In contrast, Shah Rukh was discernibly more agile while decimating his enemies in Pathaan and Jawaan.

Most problematic among the salient characters is Emraan Hashmi’s terrorist villain act. He is so unidimensional in his in-your-face extremism, I wished he would have tried a little nuancing in the villainy that he is capable of.

Interesting actors like Revathi, Riddhi Dogra, Kumud Mishra and Ashutosh Rana have little to do. You can’t even call them cubs in this tigerish tale.

Surprisingly, Katrina Kaif has a lot to do in the bustling (but sadly centerless) screenplay for a Salman-starrer. Or maybe she has so much to do because it is a Salman starrer. Be that as it may, Kaif delivers quite a whack, though the “towel trounce” seems way too manufactured. Why fight in a towel if not to cover up for the lack of freshness and novelty which plagues the perky but shallow presentation?

Worse, the ‘fun’ element is whittled down to almost nothing in Tiger 3. Shah Rukh Khan’s back-to-back actioners Jawaan and Pathaan were a whole lot of fun, as were Salman’s two previous Tiger films, especially part 2.

Part 3, for all its ambitious action pieces and a ‘serious’ statement on terrorism (Tiger and his buffer-half Zoya have to prove their nationalism), takes itself too seriously. Director Maneesh Sharma ticks all the box-office boxes. But there is no sense of comic-book caprice in the consciously kickass presentation.

There is a line in the recent Michael Fassbinder action film The Killer that the leading man keeps repeating while expelling his adversaries: "Anticipate, don’t improvise."

Tiger 3 is guilty of the opposite: it is too busy anticipating the audience response to improvise. But yes, it is a well-shot, technically sound, and visually flush action drama — a pat on the back for Anay Goswamy's spectral lensing — with much more to offer to Salmaniacs than his Eid release Na Kisi Ka Bhai Na Kisi Ki Jaan. 

This time, Salman Khan fights for country and family. While it is not quite the ultimate actioner that his fans expect, it serves its purpose.

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