Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Geetanjali Thapa,Satyadeep Mishra, Maryam d’Abo, Supriya Pathak, Vinod Nagpal
Directed by: Danis Tanovic
Rating: **(2 stars)
Funny, how idealism can never be defeated by compromise. In fiction or in real life, the Man Who Holds His Head High always emerges triumphant no matter what the odds.
Tigers, a long-delayed project featuring Emraan Hashmi as a Pakistani pharmaceutical agent who uncovers and exposes a lethal multinational baby food scam, should never have been released. It is an unfinished, annoyingly dissatisfying take on idealism and compromise with a finale that is so tame and sudden, so compromised we feel as scammed as a movie audience as the poor Pakistani mothers who fed the toxic baby food to their babies.
Don’t get me wrong. The film means well. Its makers’ hearts bleed for the poor impoverished exploited third world victims who fall prey to multinational avarice. Director Tanovic has some fine actors to champion his cause. Toplining the cast is Emraan Hashmi in what is his bravest performance to date, though half the time he looks perplexed by the propensities of a ramrod straight plot about a poor Pakistani individual who takes on the powerful and the corrupt. He might as well have been Batman without the bat.
The imminent terror of being attacked by powerful forces never really comes through. We never feel Hashmi’s Ayan to be in any real danger probably because the only threatening presence in the entire screenplay is Adil Hussain playing the sleazy though never quite sinister pharmaceutical executive. Adil for once, seems lost. We can’t blame him.
In the absence of any real threat the film seems like just another spineless morality tale which wastes a talented Indian cast, all of whom try to look and act as Pakistani as possible. Only Satyadeep Mishra as a conscientious pediatrician rises above the constant outflow of janaabs and adaabs. Fine actors like Vinod Nagpal and Supriya Pathak playing Hashmi’s parents, are wasted trying to look wise and perky. The gifted Gitanjali Thapa as Hashmi’s wife giggles and scowls whenever she can. But the wife is clearly not a priority in the conspiracy theory.
The quality of uplifting morality is abysmally absent from a film that has a conscience but no spirit.
The narrative has many gaping holes which the director tries to plug with a ferociously Sufiyana background score. The music and songs are sometimes so loud it obstructs the dialogues. We find ourselves straining to make sense of a heroic character put in a situation that he has no hold over.
The Caucasian cast is shown trying to piece together the story of Ayan’s idealism which he himself compromises as brutally as this woefully compromised film. What a lost opportunity!