In Baaghi 2, choreographer-turned-director Ahmed Khan has credited himself with both Direction and Action Design. It goes without saying that in a Tiger Shroff vehicle such as this, those two terms are essentially interchangeable.
That said, Baaghi 2 proves to be unexpectedly enjoyable – not always of course for the right reasons – and may well be the most
enjoyable watchable least unwatchable Tiger Shroff outing till date. Outside all the bone-breaking and roundhouse kicks, there’s actually a real attempt at plot and characters here which keep you with the film more than you might expect, making this a surprisingly palatable product.
Here, the human mannequin-with-the-moves is back in one of the only two avatars he can occupy – dancer or ass-kicker, in this case, going for the latter as Tiger returns as Ronny in this sequel to the 2016 Baaghi. In the interest of the 12 people who actually remember/were emotionally invested in the characters from that film, you’ll be sad to know that it isn’t actually a narrative sequel but rather the quintessential Bollywood franchise definition of one – same star, same name, different story. Here Ronny is Captain Ranveer Pratap Singh of the Indian Army. And yes to answer your next question there is more forced jingoism than you can a shake a barf bag at. After 4 years of loyal dedicated service as the perfect soldier, Ronny returns home to Goa after the love of his life (a tolerable Disha Patani) who he hasn’t talked to in years calls him in desperate need of help following her daughter’s kidnapping. Enter Tiger who swoops in to do what the police, authorities, family, and society at large can’t through which he gets sucked into a larger web of deceit where all is not what it seems.
While the central kidnapping mystery isn’t exactly edge of your seat thrilling, writers Abbas Hirapurwala, Jojo Khan, Niraj Kumar Mishra and Sajid Nadiadwala throw in enough twists and turns to hold your interest. That they do this by strategically ripping off just the right amount of films to produce a workable narrative is another matter. Part Student Of The Year, part Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, part Man On Fire and throw in a dollop of Rambo and voila, you have yourself quite the entertaining 2 hours.
What makes Baaghi 2 works where the previous brain numbing Tiger films haven’t (they’ve become something of a genre of themselves) is that it isn’t overly centered on just him, for most of it anyway. Here Tiger alone isn’t the film but rather is surrounded by a host of elements such as an actual sense of plot, colourful characters and supporting gems like Deepak Dobriyal and Manoj Bajpayee who pick up the slack. And yet, above all, it is Randeep Hooda who’s dangerously at risk of hijacking this review much like he does the movie. But more on that later.
Tiger isn’t exactly known for his theatrics and works better when he’s acting less and backflipping more. Here his dramatic chops appear to have two default settings – brooding or shrieking. And shriek he does. So much so that he might just give Aishwarya Rai Bachchan from Jazbaa a run for her money. Similarly his Ronny is most interesting when he isn’t being glorified or dishing out jingoistic lectures, but instead in the handful of scenes where he is painted not as righteous perfection but a flawed, rage-fuelled, unhinged nut-job whose actions have consequences and who’s dangerously at risk of worsening the very situation he came home to solve.
Now we’re done with the pleasantries onto one Mr Randeep Hooda. How he manages to secure the best characters in films far bigger than him and make them so entirely his own is a mystery but one I hope isn’t solved any time soon. As the hippie police inspector Loha Singh Dharam (LSD for short) he is simply electric. Hooda doesn’t as much chew the scenery as he does devour his surroundings with a slew of one-liners. His LSD has shades of Akshaye Khanna’s Inspector Dev Verma from last year’s Ittefaq – a character who’s aware of how ridiculous the film he inhabits is and plays along with gleeful abandon. Somebody needs to give LSD a spin-off, web series and/or a Netflix special. On the other end of the scale, you have Prateik Babbar who is pure unintentional comedy as a drug-addled baboon with biceps. Let’s just leave it at that.
And then, of course, we must discuss the customary culminating ‘grandiose’ half an hour ‘action extravaganza’ where the true culprit is revealed and Ronny goes on a one-man army killing spree and instantly all sense of plot, logic, physics and gravity are thrown out the window. In true Rambo-style jungle carnage, we see our man Tiger pitted against hundreds of shit-for-brains lackeys with no sense of aim and who seem to enjoy walking into bullets, punches, knives and the odd grenade. At this point director Ahmed Khan throws what little sense of narrative credibility he had built up thus far almost as if to say ‘okay enough story now, check out the cool stuff my hero and my stunt team can do.’ So much so that at this point you entirely forget what Ronny’s mission is, who he’s fighting or what he’s fighting for and all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy the unabashed batshit crazy violence and the film is all the more enjoyable for it.
Special mention also that the film deserves an award for singularly desecrating the most number of iconic songs in a single movie with both Punjabi MC’s Mundian To Bachke and Tezaab‘s Ek Do Teen slaughtered at the altar of synthetic remixes. In the end, Baaghi 2 proves to be ridiculous fun – ridiculous being the operative word. I’m going with 3 stars with half a star just for the miracle that is Randeep Hooda and his LSD.