BAAGHI. Director: Sabbir Khan. Players: Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Sudheer Babu, Sunil Grover, Shifuji Bharadwaj, Sanjay Mishra. Music: Meet Bros, Pritam. Hindi with Eng. sub-tit. Theatrical release (UTV)
Movie stars with famous movie star fathers have had a spotty record in Hindi movies. After the initial entry fanfare and inside connections, eventually the son must carry his own water.
Abhishek Bachchan (son of Amitabh Bachchan), Tusshar Kapoor (Jeetendra), Vivek Oberoi (Suresh Oberoi) are examples of younger actors who did not have the same success as their more renowned fathers. Perhaps as an exception to the rule, Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger Shroff had a sensational debut with Heropanti(2014). In hopes of repeating that success, that same team (producer Sajid Nadiadwala, director Khan and younger Shroff) return with Baaghi. Romantically viable and also action-packed all the way into tomorrow, Baaghi’s convincing signature will likely help overcome the odds to make Tiger Shroff a successful star.
Lifting off in Kerala, Sia (Kapoor), the vivacious daughter of two-bit filmmaker P.P. Khurrana (Grover), gets kidnapped and is siphoned off to Bangkok. Khurrana decides that the only man that can rescue Sia from her sinister, strong-arming kidnapper Raghav (Sudheer) is Ronny (Shroff), the buffed, wayward recluse pining away in the backwaters of Kerala.
Flashed back to when Ronny and Sia first met on a fateful, rainy train trip, a ground work has already been laid for a high-noon style duel of wits and brawn pitting Raghav’s off-radar gun-toting army of goons in Bangkok against lone-wolf Ronny.
Outwardly credited to Sanjeev Datta for writing credits, the plot bears uncanny resemblance to Telugu language entry Varsham (2004). Or for that matter, the additional resemblance to both the Indonesian entry The Raid: Redemption(2011) as well as the Bruce Willis Hollywood hit Die Hard (1988). But we are not exactly keeping score here so we won’t go there.
We are too busy soaking up Shroff’s martial arts chop to size down Raghav’s band of perps in a bloody trail all the way from Kerala to Thailand.
Raghav’s father is played by Bharadwaj. His full title is Grandmaster Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj and he is the world’s foremost authority on death-defying “Varam Kalaripayattu” and “Marmah” schools of Indian martial arts. The highly respected Bharadwaj has trained commandos for the Indian army for years. In an eye-opening role—he can actually deliver lines—as Raghav’s father who runs a martial arts school in Kerala, it is an absolute treat to see this master instill discipline into new recruits, including Ronny after he reluctantly accepts that his run-away freight train raw energy will need channeling if he has any chance of entering Raghav’s high-rise lair in Bangkok to rescue Sia.
The dual settings in Bangkok and Kerala may seem to be incongruent. Perish the thought. The Kerala exteriors with their lush, monsoon-soaked coast line dotted by lighthouses and longer-than-long dugout boats navigating shallow water ways are superbly countered by urban Bangkok vistas of gritty high-rises. The brisk pace and taut editing, especially during the action sequences—bloody in some scenes to showcase the carnage—add to guilty pleasure viewing.
Even within a limited acting range, Shroff’s muscular stance, cloudy, troubled eyes, and midnight black tresses coupled with top rate action choreography make Shroff refreshingly watchable. For producers who may find action starts like Hrithik Roshan or Akshay Kumar too pricey, Shroff may provide an approachable alternative. Kapoor has her own strings of hits (Aashique 2, Ek Villain, Haider, ABCD 2) to back her up and has a pretty solid footing in Baaghias well.
Arijit Singh may be the most popular playback singer in Hindi movies at the moment. After a huge break-out in Aashique 2, the Bengal-born singer has landed some of the most prestigious songs, thanks not only to a vocal range suitable for current male leads, but also his association with industry-fixture music director Pritam Chakraborty. Singh’s “Girl I Need You” (with Meet Bros providing the music) stands out here, along with “Sab Tera” an Armaan Malik-Shraddha Kapoor duet and “Cham Cham,” from Meet Bros and Monali Thakur. “Cham Cham” is an upbeat tune that works as both a rain dance and foot stomping party song.
This is carefree music on the go in a new-fangled movie making style for a movie with legs.