Tejas Nair | March 31, 2018
Rating – 6/10
There’s an expansive show of artillery towards the third act of the film which reminded me of a lot of pop culture media. One of the references was that of the legendary Konami video game Contra which I used to be engrossed in for hours at a time during my childhood. Ahmed Khan’s Baaghi 2, his first feature film in more than a decade, does that to you – takes you back to familiar popular film and video game references – with its grand production setup and power-packed action sequences despite running on a story that empties itself just before the second act.
Tiger Shroff plays Ronny, a daredevil, super armyman and the superior version of the character he played in the film’s prequel Baaghi (2016). He is now away from his gooey romantic days and is instead sharper and meatier than ever. One almost starts to take Shroff seriously, given that he began his career by specializing in such roles in films like Heropanti and Munna Michael. With no hint about whatever happened in Baaghi and thankfully no trace of Shraddha Kapoor, here Ronny scrambles out of his army uniform to help college sweetheart and former lover Neha (Disha Patani) find her abducted daughter. Why Neha, who broke their relationship for a reason unconvincing to Ronny, asks him for help is where the film starts throwing shoots of suspense at the viewer. I am surprised at the degree of suspense that the writers manage to create early in the film, making Baaghi 2 an engaging watch right from the start. Ronny, although bogged down by his romantic past, starts his own investigation to find out what happened to his ex-lover’s child, which only opens a can of worms. How he does that is where the logic-less story falters to be further aggravated by the overly long second and third acts.
Baaghi 2 can be described as a convoluted mix of thriller, drama, and action, but to be honest, it is far better than what we saw two years ago. This one is a raw take on a soldier’s attempt to help the woman he cares about and is devoid of syrupy gimmickry that almost never gels with the genre of action. While the presence of back-to-back songs does dumb down the overall suspense factor, they are fine enough for a Bollywood fanatic to relish between scenes where Shroff effortlessly breaks bones that he cannot count in his fingers. The narrative works chiefly because of three things: patriotism, the essence of the army, and the revenge arc. I should hand it to the writers for conspicuously sampling patriotism in the story; Ronny is an armyman and automatically a patriotic person, which definitely will have a lot of takers in today’s India where patriotism (sometimes forced) is ubiquitous. Once the storyline falls into place and when one understands that the missing child is only a start for Ronny, Baaghi 2 starts becoming more interesting. Unfortunately, the convolution begins here and goes on and one until the film ends like a fairytale.
Baaghi 2 is a congregation of actors, and even if you slide out the protagonists, we have Manoj Bajpayee playing a top cop, Randeep Hooda being pretentiously unfunny as a weirdo policeman with a good heart, and Prateik Babbar overacting his way to a character that reeks of unpleasant and trite writing. For an amateur audience, it is going to be tough keeping track of all these characters, plus the obtuseness of the screenplay. The non-linear style may even make it difficult to comprehend what’s happening on-screen. But, thanks to Shroff, if you follow his character with rapt attention, Baaghi 2 will be a better treat. He is a one-man army who goes total berserk in the third act, putting off the audience who run out of their own attention. He is dashing, no doubt, flashing his steel body and using weaponry like toys, to become a lovable character that also defies gravity at times. Disha Patani does not live up to the charm, and is clearly a director’s puppet here, blurting out sentences by-heart with less to no emotions. She is svelte as usual, but the lack of conviction in her expressions and portrayal makes me doubt her disposition. Bajpayee and Hooda are their usual self, which further reinforces my views about Shroff as the steely-eyed good guy mercenary.
The artillery scene I mentioned at the beginning is where you start getting tired of Ronny’s superhuman skills. You also get a faint sense of Rambo from these sequences, which makes you wonder what new Shroff’s going to do in the Hindi remake of Rambo scheduled for later this year. But, we will leave that to the makers, because for now, this action thriller seems to be enough for a night watch over some popcorn.
There is a lot happening in these 140 minutes, and in an attempt to look intelligent, director Khan goes overboard with his hide and seek. The non-linear narrative helps him hide important story arcs from us, which when revealed make you go “wow”, but the wowness only stays for a minute because the next wow factor is on its way. This is the reason why Baaghi 2 is not great. Some crisp editing and a faster pack-up would have made it a tighter and more relishable recipe. As it is, Baaghi 2 is engaging and worth a shot to quench your thirst for a high quality action genre film.
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