Yash Raj Films has been serious about creating a Spy universe for a long time since the global advent of superhero films. The first two Tiger films, followed by War and Pathaan, were the inception of the crossover films being attempted on a commercial scale for the first time in the Hindi film industry. All these films are headlined by the superstars of the Hindi films and the production house minted money based on their aura and the audience they could draw in.
Directed by Maneesh Sharma, the third film in the franchise was released on November 12, 2023, and the movie continues Avinash’s story as an R&AW agent forced to take up a mission outside of the intelligence agency he is working for. The first film, directed by Kabir Khan, garnered rave reviews for the plot, premise, and performances, while the second one, directed by Ali Abbas Zaffar, was panned for relying too much on star power.
The film begins with Avinash, aka Tiger, who is now living in Austria with Zoya and their son. The couple is embroiled in a mission assigned by Aatish Rehman, who raised and mentored Zoya, as he had plans to become the next leader of Pakistan by ousting the current Prime Minister Irani. Since the mission was outside the jurisdiction of the agencies of both nations, Zoya and Tiger were charged with treason by their respective governments. It is their mission to save PM Irani and help retain her power in the country, which will clear their names for the crimes the couple supposedly committed against their country. Who will win this battle to seek power? Is the audience going to be surprised by the outcome of the film? Isn’t the answer obvious?
Tiger 3 could easily be one of the best-directed action films coming out of Hindi cinema. Some could state that this film came out better than Pathaan. Maneesh Sharma last gave the audience a troubling yet exhilarating Fan. There were plenty of action scenes in it, and Tiger 3 is his new directorial venture after that Shah Rukh Khan film. Maneesh Sharma, back in the director’s seat after seven years, has delivered a good action drama that does not rely on star power. For the first time, a Salman Khan film is not about an actor. Some over-the-top sequences could be questioned, but as an overall product, this movie generally works. Tiger 3 is a family drama in the first half, but the writing tends to remain understated as a lot of importance is given to chase and fight sequences. The scenes involving Tiger and his family have not been littered with over-the-top emotions. Maneesh Sharma has concentrated only on one important aspect and staying true to the genre.
The story by Aditya Chopra and the screenplay by Shridhar Raghavan is a train wreck, and there is no turning back for any of these elements once the plot is put in motion. A predictable story and screenplay mostly harm the film throughout its runtime. It takes a strange turn after the interval, and the story is filled with cliched dialogue and scenes between the saviors and the antagonist. Like in Pathaan, this film also brings ISI and R&AW together as a rare feat to counter a bigger enemy. The narrative and story were supposed to be important elements, but they do not save the day. The ridiculousness of the climactic sequence will make the audience laugh out loud. It is absurd of Hindi film screenwriters to even suggest a storyline where Indian agents in Pakistan save the Head of State and her government. This kind of superiority complex is what adds to the existing prejudice against our neighboring country.
The fantastic action choreography, coupled with some terrific cinematography by Sahil Bhardwaj and Anay Goswami, saves the film from tanking. It is probably one of the few redeeming qualities of the film that keeps the narrative engaging till the end. This is probably the first Salman Khan film in a long while where the audience did not feel like walking out midway. The action scenes add robustness to the film. The fact that Salman Khan is not sleepwalking through these stunts is a major win for the film. Katrina Kaif is the scene stealer in every action sequence, and all of them come to life thanks to her sheer presence and hard work. Her dedication to every action scene is commendable.
Emraan Hashmi is probably one of the best antagonists in a modern Hindi action film. His arc is well written, and for the first time, there is more emphasis given to his acting chops than his muscular stature, which was the highlight of John Abraham’s character in Pathaan. It is fascinating to see the villain having a solid screen presence other than the lead actors of the film. Thankfully, the film does not suffer from the problem of too many songs being randomly placed. The editing by Rameshwar S. Bhagat is commendable because of the way action scenes are cut. Nothing is erratic or disjointedly placed. The cameo by the superstar was placed well in the movie, even though the VFX was badly executed. The fifteen-minute cameo in Tiger 3 was comparatively better than the one in Pathaan. The callback works, and audiences finally get what they want.
For the first time, the film was mostly about all the characters and not just Salman Khan. There are the likes of veteran actors Revathi and Simran as strong leaders. It is interesting to see many Hindi films now experimenting with writing strong female characters but ending up having a man save the day for them anyway. Zoya taking charge and saving the day would have been a better narrative.
Besides these obvious flaws, Salman Khan’s performance keeps the film engaging for some time, but it is overpowered by the villain’s arc. Emraan Hashmi is brilliant from scene one till the end, and he never depends on the typical caricature-ish villain tropes. His acting does the work, and he is probably one of the reasons why this film is watchable. Katrina Kaif is excellent in all the action scenes, but not so in scenes where acting chops need to shine through. Nevertheless, her arc was not bad, but her prowess as a fighter deserved a better conclusion. Tiger 3 is probably one of the better action movies to have come out of Yashraj Film’s kitty, even though it is wrecked by shoddy storytelling.