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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. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Baaghi 3, Review: Rebel without a pause

Baaghi 3, Review: Rebel without a pause

Meaning ‘rebel’ in Urdu, Baaghi 3 showcases the muscular machismo, kicking quotient and airborne acrobatics of the loose cannon called Tiger Shroff. He first takes on petty thugs and eve-teasers, then murderers and people smugglers and finally the most dreaded terrorist organisation in Syria, nay, it is claimed, the whole world! His own voice-over at the end credits these escapades as the outcome of being a rebel. And does this rebel have a cause? Yes, an older brother, for whom he can take-on the world single-handedly. Keep raising the bar of swallowing creative liberties a few notches higher every five minutes, and you are in for some real kick-butt stuff. If you fail to do that, you are going to cringe, carp and cavil, for most of the 147 minutes.

Ranveer ‘Ronnie’ and Vikram Chaudhury are brothers, who share an unbreakable bond, and the two children of Inspector Charan Chaudhury. Since childhood, Ronnie always comes to the rescue whenever Vikram falls in any trouble—all he has to do is yell out “Ronnie……”. Though Vikram is older, he is timid and almost a wimp. When still in their pre-teens, they lose their father, who dies while rescuing victims during a communal riot. Ronnie takes on the role of protector and shield to Vikram, with renewed vigour, as their father made him give a promise to that effect. Their late father’s Inspector friend advises Vikram to apply for the position of Inspector as a vacancy has arisen in Loha Mandi, Agra. The fact that both his father and grand-father had served in the police force would improve his chances of being selected. Vikram cannot even think of taking on the job, and suggests that Ronnie apply instead. Since Ronnie has 33 cases pending against him, for assault and battery, mainly to save his brother, he would stand no chance. But he assures Vikram that if he becomes a Police Inspector, he (Ronnie) would act as his secret weapon in dealing with crime.

Vikram indeed gets selected, and soon discovers that the entire police force of his beat trembles at the very mention of the name of a feared Don called IPL (what’s in an acronym?). When it is discovered that IPL is running a people smuggling racket by kidnapping entire families (families?!) and sending them to Syria, with the help of a local operative called Bajwa, the police assign the hapless Vikram to the case. True to his word, Ronnie arrives at the ware-house where the families are held as de facto Vikram, and beats up the entire gang, freeing the kidnapped families. Investigations reveal that IPL sends the families to Syria, to one Abu Jalal Gaza, head of a terrorist group called Jaish-e-Lashkar. Inspector Vikram, who is now married to Ruchi, is sent to Syria, to pursue the case and ask for Ghazi’s extradition. While on a video call to his brother, Vikram is beaten-up in his hotel room, and dragged away, by assailants of the Lashkar. Ronnie sees all this on his phone, and vows to bring Vikram back alive. Ruchi’s sister and Ronnie’s love interest, Sia, joins him on this mission.

Producer Sajid Nadiadwala has adapted a Tamil film’s story (Vettai, 2012, written by N. Linguswamy, for which the screenplay and dialogue has been contributed by Farhad Samji, his second solo effort after Prassthanam, which wasn’t an earth-shaking one. This one is earth-shaking, literally. And wind-shaking. And fire igniting. After addressing the three basic elements of earth, wind and fire, we wonder why water was spared. What? No underwater capers? None!

Ghazi expounds, “We are not two, we are not a hundred, we are a whole nation”. Baaghi 3 has lines that go “…..chhod deta hoon” (I let go) and “….phod deta hoon” (I break; don’t miss the rhyme), both lines mouthed by, who else, Tiger Shroff, declaring that Ronnie lets go those that offend him but breaks those who offend his brother. Breaks, here, is a euphemism, though we do hear the delicate sounds of bones breaking once too often.

Bajwa and his cronies pick a fight with Vikram after he has spilled food on Bajwa’s clothes in a mall. It was Vikram’s fault alright, but when he apologises and offers to make amends, Bajwa’s bald crony reads different meanings into the apologies (totally unintended puns, to be precise), and delivers two resounding slaps across Vikram’s left ear, which starts bleeding. Ronnie arrives on the scene and is persuaded by Vikram to leave without creating a scene, but he notices the blood flowing, and blood-letting follows. Later, in one scene, a Syrian police official says audibly, “I will have to take permission from the External Ministry of Affairs.” Didn’t anybody notice the bloomer and have it corrected during dubbing?

In a reversal of roles, when Ronnie is being bashed-up, Vikram gets possessed by a trio of spirits—Hercules, Samson and Superman—and Ronnie just keeps marvelling, almost getting killed in the bargain. When all hell breaks loose in Syria, Ghazi, and his Nazi foot-soldiers, begin to believe that it could be the handiwork of an enemy nation. America? Russia? Mossad? They try three guesses, getting nowhere. Somebody better tell them that America and Russia are on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, and that Mossad is not a country. Israel is. Mossad is the name of the secret service of Israel. In any case, all three guesses were wrong, for the attacks came from one individual, called Ronnie. Sia uses cuss words so often, that the dialogue-writer has included the word ‘beep’ as part of the profanities. Since the censoring authority will not allow a woman to mouth expletives, that too by the dozen, she is made to say half the invective, combining it with “beep”, what, in English, might sound like “You mother beep.”

Ahmed Khan, who was in the director’s chair for Baaghi 2 (the franchise has the title and Tiger Shroff in common; the names Ronnie and Sia, as well the artistes Shraddha Kapoor and Disha Patani have been repeated too) has wielded the megaphone for this big-budget action bonanza, confining himself to one of the many roles he plays in his varied career: choreographer, producer, actor, director, and writer. Khan has orchestrated the dozen odd flying/swinging/dangling/hanging/trapezing Tiger scenes and the thousand odd horizontal kicks with a flourish, as Ronnie demonstrates, by holding on to the pose before and after combat, almost like the way a batsman shows you the bat after an exquisite bowler’s back drive in the game of cricket. One must appreciate the fact that the romantic track of Ronnie and Sia is kept to a bare minimum, almost like the costumes in the item number, ‘Do you love me’? One particular sequence where Ronnie darts across used cars stacked in columns of 4/5 at a warehouse/facility, in a dozen or so rows, and sends them tumbling after, does take your breath away. But you cannot be expected to believe that a helicopter’s door, yanked off by Ronnie, will act as a shield against a barrage of fire power that lasts for several minutes. Occasions like these arise too often, making you forget that it is pointless looking for logic in a film that is meant to showcase the biceps, triceps, calves, thighs, fists and feet of its protagonist.

Tiger Shroff as Ranveer "Ronnie", the titular role, is on a roll. You can see that he revels in the goings on. Riteish Deshmukh as Vikram is miscast, though he does make an effort to blend with the script. Shraddha Kapoor as Sia Nandan abusive has only the swearing to show for. Ankita Lokhande as Ruchi Nandan sails through, with not much of a role. Jameel Khoury (Israeli film and TV actor, music composer) as Abu Jalal Ghazi has the physique. As far as the Hindi dialogue goes, who knows? All his dialogues might have been dubbed. Jaideep Ahlawat as IPL gets a meaty role and jells well, except when he undergoes a change of heart and becomes part of tried and trusted tropes. Vijay Varma as Akhtar Lahori, who speaks with a Hyderabadi accent, is a sore, and no thanks to his stereo-typical role. Satish Kaushik BMC, the Police Commissioner is as crude as they come, and you can blame the script again.

Virendra Saxena as Tripathi, the Inspector who longs to redeem himself, holds no surprises. Manav Gohil as Asif, the man forced into becoming a suicide bomber, does well in a brief outing. As his wife Hafiza, Shriswara Dubey is sweet. Amit Sharma plays Bajwa, a routine bit of casting. Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj, popularly known as Shifuji, is a martial artist who plays an Inspector, the best friend of Chaudhury. In Special Appearances, we have Jackie Shroff performing as his real-life son’s father and Disha Patani, who would like you to believe that she, along with her dancing colleagues on the item song ‘Do you love me’, is almost naked. Two songs are reproduced in versions and remixes: ‘Ek aankh maaroon to’ (Tohfa, Bappi Lahiri) and ‘Dus bahaney karkey ley gayee dil’ (Dus, Vishal-Shekhar).

Though there is an attempt to universalise the rescue mission in the end, and a move to retain ambiguity, by identifying a particular country’s Embassy as merely an Embassy (probably on censor’s orders), Baaghi 3 remains a politically insensitive film. In all likelihood, the amalgamated name Jaish-e-Lashkar (Jaish-e-Mohammed+Lashkar-e-Toiba), that resonates more with Pakistan than Syria, has been coined to replace ‘ISIS’. Censors again? At one point, Tiger yells that to save his brother, he will wipe out any country from the face of this earth. Now, now, that’s a bit much! The country in question is Syria, and, mind you, the bad guys Tiger is battling are not government troops. On the contrary, there is a police officer hot on the pursuit of Ghazi.

Except for a couple of non-violent scenes, Baaghi 3 is in high-octane mode. A rebel he may or may not be, but he does have a cause. What he does not have is a pause. And there I was, pausing to pick-up grammatical errors like haalaaton and jazbaaton, both double plurals that do not exist. Haalat and jazbaat would suffice. In Baaghi 3, grammar is the least of casualties.

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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