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Salman Khan is a species that invites admiration and applause in any kind of film format or movie genre. Off late we have seen enough of him in mindless comedies and inflated action flicks. But the Yash Raj banner and, more particularly, director Kabir Khan project him in a sober, suave and sensible way over his patented pedestrian image. And since the film follows a sane storyline over silly slapstick, one is able to appreciate and enjoy it better.

In the prologue chase-sequence where he is introduced as an intelligence officer on assignment in a foreign country, Salman Khan escapes his opponents by splurging money in an open market and subsequently camouflages in the crowd that is busy pouncing on the currency. Be rest assured that what follows would be ‘paisa vasool’ entertainment.

Tiger (Salman Khan) is an Indian intelligence officer who’s sent by RAW to Dublin to keep an eye on a science professor. There he comes across Zoya (Katrina Kaif) and expectedly falls for her. Until it turns out that even Zoya is on an undercover mission. Now Tiger has to choose between duty and love.

Aditya Chopra sketches his story on the unusual premise of what would happen if an Indian intelligence officer falls in love with a Pakistani spy. The conflicts in the love story come quite naturally through the animosity between the two neighbouring nations, prevalent for decades. On a broader level the film implies how love can overpower all inherent differences. Yet it never makes a very conscious attempt to sound preachy or positive about the state-of-affairs between the countries. Chopra’s story is credibly crafted into a riveting screenplay by Neelesh Misra and Kabir Khan.

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At first instance, it seems like the love story is barging in the spy-drama. Until you realize that Ek Tha Tiger, largely, is a love story on the backdrop of an espionage thriller and not the other way round. Once we realize that, the romance track is never a hindrance. Rather the Indo-Pak spy couple lends the love story its uniqueness. Nevertheless there is no compromise on the spy setup of the film either. Director Kabir Khan commendably balances the love story and the spy drama, with each element taking precedence at different junctures in the film as per the requirement.

The beauty of the film is that, though the protagonist goes against his establishment for a girl from a rival country, you still root for him. Their integrity towards each other makes you overlook the fact that the two spies went rogue. Thereby Ek Tha Tiger is more of a rooted romance tale over a mechanical spy-thriller. Where it scores above most Indian espionage flicks (including the recent Agent Vinod) is that fact that though it frequently changes geographical boundaries, the narrative never wanders aimlessly.

Unlike most desi actioners where the stunts are often exaggerated, convoluted and commonplace, Ek Tha Tiger boasts of some imaginative action sequences smartly choreographed by Hollywood stunt coordinator Conrad Palmisano. It isn’t of the existing variety where a dozen goons go flying in the air by hero’s one kick. Kabir Khan strikes a perfect balance between heroism and realism in this department. So the background score or editing patterns don’t have to be overblown for the impact. The tram sequence in first half and the freeway chase in the second is sure to invite applause in cinema-halls.

Despite a serious spy setup, the film has a very cool sense of humour. The tongue-in-cheek lines often make you smile even in the most unusual circumstances. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography lends the film a grace that the genre demands, as he captures the essence of Ireland, Cuba, Istanbul and other countries with elan.

Salman Khan carries an urbane charm and looks uber-cool dressed in formals. He is resourcefully restrained sans his customary buffoonery. His acting ability is best exploited in this film after a long long time. Katrina Kaif is gorgeous as always and puts in a confident act. Her agility in action sequences adds to her conviction. And more importantly she shares terrific chemistry with Salman Khan, something that was missing in all their earlier pairings. Ranvir Shorey as Salman’s associate makes for a good supporting cast. Girish Karnad and Gavie Chahal lend decent support.

Ek Tha Tiger, by far, is Salman Khan’s most entertaining and accomplished works in recent times. Hope he takes the correct cues from this film and stays away from mediocrity henceforth.

India is in safe hands with RAW spies like Tiger (Salman Khan) who chase, beat and gun down enemies of the state no matter which foreign country they are in. Forever on the move, Tiger’s latest assignment is to observe the movements of a certain Trinity College scientist in the UK. Accustomed to using his fists for getting information, our desi 007 finds it a bit difficult to get close to this aloof scientist.

But there’s the professor’s beautiful housekeeper Zoya (Katrina Kaif) who can help Tiger. In the guise of a writer, Tiger prances around with Zoya and ends up falling for her; just as his colleague Gopi (Ranvir Shorey) had warned him not to.

So what could be the twist in this story? Considering that it’s a YRF product, the rest of the movie has enough romance, action and chase sequences to look forward to. Can Zoya and Tiger make it? Watch the movie for the ultimate twist in the tale.

Ek Tha Tiger is a love story in the guise of an action movie. Salman Khan, a RAW agent, falls in love with Katrina Kaif on a mission in another country. Katrina Kaif (Zoya, delightful) turns out to be an ISI agent (sorry for the spoiler) and Salman Khan must kill her. Directed by Kabir Khan, Aditya Chopra’s story starts in an unexciting way, with Tiger (Salman Khan, minus his usual bullshit) in an action sequence which moves either in slow motion or too fast to enjoy.

Given the star status he enjoys, Salman Khan deserves better roles, but this is still a lot more watchable than his last four releases (Wanted, Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard were pieces of shit), and Katrina Kaif looks gorgeous and is a treat to watch in the action scenes, even though Ek Tha Tiger, as a thriller, is underwhelming.

Every other actor in Ek Tha Tiger except Salman and Katrina is hamming, and the couple’s chemistry alone makes the film worth a watch. Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif do both comedy and drama pretty well as a team and they look great together. There are a few really good scenes: 1) Salman invites Katrina for a close-to-midnight picnic and it turns out that he wants to see a meteor shower with her, and 2) Katrina tells Salman during a serious moment that their nationality and duty will only let them shake hands at the Wagah border.

Ek Tha Tiger is devoid of the usual crassness that comes in a Salman Khan film, and Katrina Kaif is the highlight of the movie. If the other actors weren’t hamming so much, this could have been worth a second watch. Still, it’s less pretentious than that overrated second part of Gangs Of Wasseypur which only idiots loved.

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