Tiger Zinda Hai: The Record-Breaking Blockbuster

Tiger Zinda Hai, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, is a Hindi action thriller film, starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in the lead roles.

Eight years passed, Avinash Singh Rathore aka Tiger (Salman Khan) and Zoya (Katrina Kaif) are runaway spies and happily settled parents to a seven-year-old in the Austrian Alps. But they are forced out of retirement because there's no love bigger than love for the motherland. For Tiger it's a matter of "Desh ki izzat", for Zoya it's to show that Pakistan stands "for peace".

Tiger monitors what the RAW is up to by hacking into their computer system.  Zoya, when she isn't shopping for vegetables and cooking, is fit and agile to break bones of thieves. A party pooper in their calm life arrives in senior RAW officer Shenoy (Girsh Karnad) who wants Tiger, and only Tiger, to lead a mission to bring back 40 nurses held hostage in a hospital in Ikrit, Iraq. So what if Shenoy has only a week to first track Tiger down, plan a rescue operation, put together a squad and then see it executed.  

Ali Abbas Zafar is following the footsteps of Kabir Khan, who directed the original Ek Tha Tiger (2012), continues with the message of India-Pakistan unity and friendship.  What the respective governments cannot do, the unbreakable love of Tiger and Zoya can - bring the favourite worst enemies for a noble cause. Even as the Indian government entrusts Tiger with massive responsibility, it's also worried that he may be compromised agent given his relationship with a Pakistani. Nothing much comes of this dramatic arc for Zafar, also the screenplay and dialogue writer, wants every character to wear his patriotism on his sleeve.  So a scene where an Indian Muslim agent's love for his nation is proven only after a neatly folded Indian flag emerges from his bag.

Zafar created the fanciful scenario with a contrived plot and brief humour but there are a few oddities. When an Indian nurse is asked by the ambassador how many nurses are stranded, her response is 25 Indians and 15 Pakistani. Clearly the animosity here runs deep even if the makers want us to believe this is a sisterhood without any religious or geographical barriers.

The scale for the sequel is big and impressive. Austria, Morocco, Abu Dhabi, Greece are some of the locations the cast and crew travel to. Apart from ISI and RAW, the CIA is involved too, with the Americans rushing the Indians and Pakistanis to save the nurses so as to conduct drone strikes to bring down the ISIS-inspired organisation which here goes as ISC. Its leader Abu Usman (Sajjad Delafrooz) is its menacing, fanatical leader of the religious army ordering mass beheadings, bombings and shootouts.

Tiger this time has a few good men at his disposal but Khan doesn't pass off as the most active and dangerous agent out there. In fact it's Zoya who comes across as the wonder woman, one present at the right place at the right time, doing all the hard work. As the 30-minute climax unfolds, a lot of it in slo-mo, Zafar has achieved the impossible. Sex slaves have been freed, a child soldier is rescued, there's minimum casualty and ISC is no more. 


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