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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Baaghi 2, Review: Do we still need an army?

Baaghi 2, Review: Do we still need an army?

He’s an army-man and he’s angry, first at the stone-pelters in Kashmir, and then at the drug-peddlers in Goa. In the former case, he has a bee in his bonnet. Rather, he ties a local to the bonnet on his Jeep, using him as a human shield, and drives through, teaching the militants a lesson. This earns a serious reprimand from his superior officers and a strenuous survival punishment as well. In the latter case, he conducts a master class in gory, bloody, deadly, ghastly, blastly, bone-crunching, gut-spilling, decapitating violence, the likes of which haven’t been seen too often on the Hindi film screen. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to director Ahmed Khan and actor Tiger Shroff’s killing spree, Baaghi 2.

After a prelude (in fact two), Bond-style, we have the hero, Ranveer Pratap Singh, alias Ronny, heading for Goa, after taking a seven day leave from his army duty. He has been summoned by his ex flame Neha, to help trace her missing daughter, Rhea. Rhea is kidnapped in the first scene of the film by unknown hoods and Neha had been unable to trace her for two months. Strangely, she has not received any ransom demand either. Making things worse, she is mage to believe that she never gave birth, and that Rhea is a figment of her imagination, the baby she never had. Neha was almost married to Ronny, but her father whisked her away from the wedding venue, and forced her to marry a man of his choice, citing his terminal cancer to help convince her. Neha gives in and marries Shekhar Salgaonkar, while Ronny joins the army.

Playing sleuth, Ronny unearths a few clues but rubs the local police the wrong way. They give him the works, and Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Shergill tells him to lay off. Then he meets Sunny, Neha’s drug-addict and runner, brother-in-law, and Usman, a car-hiring agency owner, who doubles up as a drug carrier. Usman is ready to squawk, but Ronny now had to deal with the new Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), a man better known as LSD, after his initials. Unconventional in looks and attire, LSD occasionally smokes pot, and is ruthless against those who cross his path.

The criminal nexus runs deep, and involves almost every player in the game. Finally, the revelation leads Ronny to the jungle, for the romp of his life. He arrives as a bowling alley ball and aims himself as a projectile/missile/catapult/bomb, against the wobbly, weak in the knees, 9 pins. Actually, there are some 900 of them, laden with 9,000 explosives and spraying 90,000 bullets at Rambonny, alias Ronny, not to mention the odd helicopters.

A sequel to the 2106 release, Baaghi 2’s plot is conceived on three planes: an innocent and heart-breaking love-story, a disappearance/kidnapping mystery about a missing little girl, and the letting loose of the one man army on the evil-doers. Ahmed Khan (screenplay), Abbas Hirapurwala (screenplay), Jojo Khan (screenplay), Niraj Kumar Mishra (screenplay), Sajid Nadiadwala (story adaptation), Hussain Dalal (dialogue) and story by Adivi Sesh (original Telugu film, Kshanam) are the real handful writing credits. There is no way one can trace the contributions of the respective individuals, but somebody has to take the blame for the dozen off loose ends.

What shortcomings does Neha’s father see in Ronny that he prefers to get her married to Shekhar instead? Why does Ronny need a human shield against stone-pelters, when he can exterminate an entire ‘battalion’ single-handedly? Why does Neha not share her secret instead of jumping out of the window? Ronny can spot the height measuring marks in on a wall in the house, but Neha did not, for two months! Usman, a cripple, decides to brave the mob, and offers to testify against them in court, only to be brutally beaten and killed. Was he so stupid as to believe they would let him live till then? Armed gangsters aboard the helicopters wait for Ronny to turn around and leap at them before opening fire!

Policeman Bosco bursting into tears at the slightest, even perceived, barb is not comedy, nor is the ridiculing of the surname Kute in good taste. (I was reminded of the famous Kuta beach in Bali). There are some good lines during the couple’s courtship but the only time Hussain Dalal’s dialogue elicits laughter is when Usman says aloud, “I am willing to testify in coat (court)! What did you think? O would testify on a lungi (sarong)?”

Choreographer-turned-actor-turned-director Ahmed Khan (Lakeer, Fool and Final) gets Tiger and Disha to emote well, does fine bits of casting in choosing the right persons to play Tiger’s commanding officer and the DIG, wastes Randeep Hooda in a long caricature, demands a complete suspension of disbelief in almost all his action scenes, pours out a huge concoction of over-the-top, video game style action, but forgets to plug in the loopholes, which are the main drawbacks of the movie.

The action scenes serve more kicks than an entire football season and more rippling biceps and triceps and abs, and more, on one person, than an entire WWF season! Tiger tying the dupatta of his late beloved on his biceps to stop bleeding should have drawn sympathy and tears; instead, it comes across as laboured and funny. You are forced to wonder about the aimless wonders, who are unable to hit bull’s eye on their moving target, with even one bullet out of the countless they shoot. Hold bullet does...nope, I ain’t gonna give you no spoilers.

Tiger Shroff (Heropanti, Baghi, Munna Michael) has tons of machismo, but he isn’t short on emoting either. This is my first exposure to the son of actor Jackie Shroff, who had a macho image quite his own. Tiger revels in the action scenes, yet he does not fight shy on the emotional quotient either. Disha Patani has a smallish, vulnerable role and her looks arouse empathy. Given highly revealing clothes early on, she is more comfortable in the married avatar. Manoj Bajpai as the DIG is good casting, more so in view of the climax.

Randeep Hooda is wasted, but oozes confidence nevertheless. Darshan Kumar as Shekhar, Prateik Babbar as Sunny and Sunit Morarjee as Kute are ok. Deepak Dobriyal as Usman, works hard to get the Muslim look and speech right, with some success. Jacqueline Fernandez leaves little to the imagination in her wriggling to the remix of yesteryear’s superhit track, ‘Ek do teen’. Special mention must be made of Grandmaster Shifuji Shaurya Bharadwaj, the actor playing Ronny’s commander. Sad that he does come again, into the climax, only to mouth a couple of clap-trap lines and then disappear.

Tiger Shroff went to Hong Kong to train in Martial Arts, under action director Tonny Ching. Perhaps that is why the makers have gone overboard in keeping a never-ending climax and stretching the film to 144 minutes. Twenty minutes less would have done no harm, only good.

Now that we have Ronny, who is in the army, do we still need the army?

Rating: **


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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