Salman Khan films dont need to adhere to the highest quality of filmmaking and they would still make more money than every other film released in the same year. He is at his peak right now and everything he touches will be gold. The more you accustom yourself to this reality, the more objective you can be while judging a film like this. Oh yes, it also doesnt matter what you or I think. This film wasnt exactly made for people who write about movies and pride themselves in analyzing its cinematic credibility. It is for those who whistle and applaud while watching Salman on screen. I am not the biggest Salman fan but I thoroughly enjoyed Wanted (2009) and Dabangg (2010). Although, Bodyguard (2011) was a stinker of the highest order. (What made the most money? Bodyguard. Exactly.)
Ek Tha Tiger is about Tiger, a RAW agent who has to *observe* a scientist who might be handing out information to the ISI. Salman does play a character but he does so while playing Salman, which is great considering he plays only Salman most of the time. He befriends Zoya (Katrina), who *takes care* of the scientists house. There is love story sandwiched between two chase sequences. Then comes a predictable twist which further snowballs into a film that is a cross between Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967). It manages to do the inter-cultural bit well but not the lovers-on-the-lam bit. In essence, the romantic escapism doesnt take flight. (In the film, it does, literally.)
It is no secret that we undermine our countrys mainstream cinema. This also makes us underestimate it. Its fine to underestimate it because we dont get the best movies out of this particular strand of filmmaking. However, I still believe they are extremely enjoyable and capable of delivering an occasional great movie. Ek Tha Tiger could be that film but it isnt.
Kabir Khan and Aditya Chopra give the audience what they want. There is a customary slow motion introduction shot of the star (also known as *the entry*), action sequences, romantic interludes, good production values and a little bit of comedy. The two things it doesnt have are: a villain and good music. While compromising on these, the makers want to give the audience something more. Sadly, this attempt is successful only in parts.
Yes, there is an ideological villain and the characters are running away from the unfounded hate that has been cultivated over the years but it still needs a tight plot, especially when its a spy film. You definitely do not include a scene of a character eavesdropping his way to vital information. Its political revisionism isnt the most mature take on it but it isnt childish and ridiculous either. I championed New York (2009) as it had a similar not-so-mature political vantage point but juggled it well with an effective story about unrequited love. Ek Tha Tiger has everything going for it except we dont really care much for the love story. The post-interval portions has them on the run but a few scenes of them sharing a genuinely romantic moment wouldnt hurt.
Ek Tha Tiger manages to salvage itself from ruin but not every time will an actor lend his stardom to do so. It could have been more than what it is, if it didnt run away from good storytelling. Albeit, it is remarkable that a film like this has released on the most jingoistic day of the year. A day which has a habit of somehow including hatred for our neighboring country. Several films have tried to wave out a white flag for the benefit of the two countries. A better film could say the same thing more effectively but I can make do with this for now. It would be ideal if we got a great film disguised as a masala film. The masala film is hard to find here. But is there a great film in there? No. A good film? Yes. The only problem is the good film doesnt take over the masala film entirely.