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YRF & Salman's 'Tiger' sure to ride to box office glory

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MUMBAI: Yash Raj Films and Salman Khan finally come together 24 years after the actor made his debut, while the production house has a standing of 40 years.

So when the two titans come together, the expectations are those of a perfect blend of romance with some great music and action to go with Salman’s image. Ek Tha Tiger lives up to some but belies equally. It is not a regular Salman Khan out-and-out action flick, but a love story.

The spy angle and the action is incidental mainly due to his character’s job profile. Yet, no denying the fact that the film is slated to register the biggest first day as well as the biggest opening week figures ever.

Salman Khan is a top rated RAW agent who is sent on a relatively easy assignment to Ireland where a renowned Indian scientist, Roshan Seth, is on a self-imposed exile and has chosen to teach in a university there. It is suspected that some details of his research are being shared with Pakistan’s secret service agency, the ISI. Salman Khan’s job is to keep an eye on him and his movements.

Salman tries to cultivate a contact with Seth introducing himself as a writer working on a book on top brains of India, but Seth proves a hard nut to crack and remains indifferent to him. On one of his attempts to gain access to Seth, Salman notices his housekeeper, Katrina Kaif, and decides to use her to reach Seth. Love is inevitable and it takes deep roots on both sides.

Curiously, Salman, though sent on a mission, is being watched by his own agency: the local agent, Ranveer Shorey, keeps tab on his actions! So while Salman is romancing, he gets a message from Shorey about some mischief happening at the Seth residence. He lands up only to discover Katrina hacking his computer. She is an ISI operative! The film is half way through and things which were crawling, promise to pick up now.

It is love versus duty now; his brief as a RAW agent would have been to shoot Katrina she being an enemy spy, but love wins. The next encounter of the lovers is in Istanbul. The fire of love is still burning, Salman suggests the only way out: to elope. But this is no teenage romance with villains and parents of the lovers chasing them.

This is love between a RAW and an ISI operative and both know enough secrets! As such, none of the two agencies can afford a happy ending to this romance. They have to die because RAW and ISI agents can’t go soft on each other, romance is a far cry.

This is the second part of the film where the pace picks up as the couple has two biggest enemies with each other chasing them with intentions to finish their existence: the RAW on one side and the ISI on the other. Finally the opposing agencies, the sworn rivals have a common goal that is to kill both the agents.

Since this is more a love story, the hunted, Salman and Katrina, explore the world as well as dodge trouble and fight their detractors while they also take you to a sight-seeing tour of about half a dozen countries. In the absence of hummable or danceable music, comedy, side tracks, touring is what the film has to offer sprinkled with thrill here and there.

Actually, the film has just about four recognisable actors in the lead players, Salman and Katrina, Salman’s shadow Ranveer Shorey and handler and boss, Girish Karnad. Not much of a star cast to plan a blockbuster on! Also, it puts the entire burden of pulling the film through on the masculine shoulders of just one actor, Salman Khan.

This is not really a film which tests the histrionics of its small roaster of artistes: it has just four artistes playing any kind of visible character. Salman Khan plays himself, which is to say, being around and being casual and throw punches; perform some stunts as if it was a way of life.

Katrina Kaif has stopped looking all syrupy and sugar sweet but learnt some acting and expressions in the bargain, which all she uses in this film; she even justifies some action scenes!

In a film with poorly etched out characters, Girish Karnad and Ranveer Shorey don’t amount to much, really! The film has two good numbers of which one with a Persian score is wasted on end titles. Also, what makes Ek Tha Tiger more watchable are the backdrops of the several countries making it a visual delight.

Ek Tha Tiger starts with what is called climax that is a thrilling action scene, a trend established by Bond movies. This aptly establishes the character and exploits of the hero. As for action, there is not much of it in the first part save for a well-executed tram car sequence. It is the film’s second part that makes good the sagging pace of the first half. What also makes the story tick is the fact that he is an Indian who conquers the heart of a Pakistani girl (A la Gadar: Ek Prem Katha) and fighting singlehandedly with the mighty ISI to save his love.

Ek Tha Tiger, all said, is the triumph of Salman Khan’s popularity, the film’s title which endorses his image, and the release strategy. The film was a business hit even before its release. What it has added to the records are the box office figures not to be broken in the near future. Having collected Rs 329.2 million on day one with most of the 3,300 cinemas registering all house full shows, the film has yet to cater to the Eid crowd, which is due on Monday.

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