Baaghi 2: Tiger Shroff plays to his strengths, while Disha Patani’s damsel-in-distress act needs work

I can make my peace with Tiger Shroff packing a few punches against fictitious bad guys and grooving to popular songs that one will probably forget even before they end. It has nothing to do with my tolerance levels, and a lot to do with recognising someone’s core talent. In Tiger Shroff’s case, I’d rather see him in film where I know he’s playing to his strengths.

Baaghi 2 follows the story of “one-man army” Ronnie, who is a tough army officer fighting against the evils of society. What makes this run-of-the-mill plot seem interesting is the stoicism with which Tiger approaches his role. Going by the trailer of the film, it is more than apparent that the director Ahmed Khan, doesn’t believe in wasting his audience’s time (he has, after all, been a director, choreographer and an actor). With stellar actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda and (yes this is a debatable, but we’ll save it for another day) Prateik Babbar sharing screen space with Tiger, and a buzz-worthy pairing with Disha Patani, Ahmed seems to be aware of the positioning of the film.

Tiger Shroff in a publicity still for Baaghi 2

Tiger Shroff in a publicity still for Baaghi 2

The film begins with a brutal attack on Neha (Disha Patani), by two masked men. Meanwhile, we learn of the existence of Ranveer Pratap Singh aka Ronnie (Tiger), who is a special-ops Army officer in Kashmir. Much effort is put into establishing him as a hardcore Army man, who is brave, fit and uber-macho. As a bonus they add in a scene where Ronnie beats up terrorists, establishing his nationalism. The film’s plot picks up steam when Neha calls Ronnie from Goa, for help after her attack. Her daughter’s been kidnapped in the assault, and she needs his help.

We are then thrown into a rather childish flashback about how Ronnie and Neha met in college. With the requisite meet-cute songs and cliche dialogues we’re given the back story of the two leads; it’s everything you imagine it to be (think Kuch Kuch Hota Hai meets every Tiger Shroff film ever). I’m surprised to note that Tiger has learned how to emote, at least as compared to Disha, who barely manages to express fear when she needs to play the damsel in distress part. Needless to say, the film does better in its taut action sequences. Director Ahmed Khan teases us with only glimpses of those in the beginning, with two hummable but forgettable songs packed into the first 20 minutes.

Read on Firstpost — Tiger Shroff on transforming into a ‘one-man army’ in Baaghi 2: I trained really hard, put on 5 kg of muscle

The action sequences, once they begin, are like a whole other film. Full of swag and agenda, they set the tone of Baaghi 2. No matter when and how he is beating up people (or getting beat up), Ronnie makes sure to spot an Indian flag and save it from being roughed up. He’s a true patriot, and the film takes every chance they get to hammer home the point.

And because one antagonist isn’t enough for our hero here, Baaghi 2 places two hurdles in Ronnie’s path to finding Neha’s daughter. Manoj Bajpayee, who plays the DIG and Prateik Babbar, who plays Sunny, Neha’s husband’s brother. Babbar plays a caricature of a drug addict: loud, dramatic and pierced, with a Metallica t-shirt and guns in tow. In spite of their talent, lack of sturdy direction from Ahmed Khan has resulted in both actors hamming quite a bit.

Baaghi 2‘s best scenes are between the DIG (Manoj Bajpayee) and LSD (Randeep Hooda), a humourous cop who believes in the adage, when in Rome, be like the Romans. It’s why his name has been shortened to LSD (the action has shifted to Goa by this point) and he dresses like a hippie. The dialogues in the film are crisp but corny; I stopped short of rolling my eyes only for the sheer smartness with which they’re written. Goa’s locales and flavour have been liberally used through the film as well. The plot starts to unmask its layers around the halfway mark, where we learn that Ronnie isn’t dealing with a mere kidnapping. There’s an underbelly of crime that unravels, one action sequence after another. Deepak Dobriyal stands out as the easily the best performer in the film; he plays Ronnie’s aide (albeit one with a questionable moral compass).

Also on Firstpost — Baaghi 2 actress Disha Patani on working with Tiger Shroff: We’re both understanding and competitive

Unlike other hyper-masculine action films (cough* Tiger Zinda Hai *cough) in Baaghi 2, Tiger is given more than enough to work with. The action sequences are not merely a platform for him to show his talents. The threats posed are real, and there are high-voltage stunts galore — it’s what action was meant to be.

Ultimately, Baaghi 2 surprises you. It’s not a well-structured film, and the story has many loopholes; the performances are over-the-top and the plot points convenient. Also, how Baaghi 2 uses its sole woman — yes that’s right, there is only one woman in the film (Patani) — says much about what it wants to be. However, some credit must be given to Baaghi 2 for staying true to its genre. If you’re a fan of high-action dramas, you may just (gasp!) enjoy this film. It’s a pity the film didn’t use Manoj Bajpayee and Randeep Hooda’s expertise more; they are mere pawns in Tiger Shroff’s journey. Now that’s the real pity

Originally Published on firstpost

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