A ‘Baaghi’ Rant + Review

So, I went to watch a movie last week on bank-holiday Monday. No, no. It’s not what you think. I’m not intending to write a quintessential Indian film review preceding with a 5-line summary that is followed by an unsuccessful attempt of remaining critical without ‘giving too much of the story away’.

Those reviews bore me.

I’d rather watch the movie myself than read someone droning on about how Tiger Shroff “…is being forced to act like a rebel…” (Indian Times), or how “…there is no rationale…” behind all the action (Hindustan Times). Although, a particular line did make me chuckle – a reference was made to Shroff’s stunts being “…more sensuous than his kisses”, (The Times of India).

I’m not denying the truth in these reviews. I just don’t think they’re informative. I mean, what use is a cold-blooded review of a movie which is supposed to be a form of entertainment, a means of aesthetic satisfaction and a potential catalyst for some kind of emotional uproar?

Do any of these reviews tell you whether one has an aesthetic appreciation or can emotionally conjoin with this particular piece of celluloid? No.

Do they satisfy the defining conditions of what makes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ movie? No.

Because movie-making is a form of art. A means of esthetical delight. Every single review is authored by a person who, when visiting the cinema, has taken their preconceived biases, ideas and opinions with them. So, although they try to remain objective by singling out a particular action sequence that wasn’t given enough screen space or a kiss that wasn’t executed well; what they’re really doing is acceding to their biases of what a ‘good’ sensuous scene is or a ‘long-lasting’ action sequence is – which, by the way, are completely subjective – and are attempting to objectively employ it in a review.

I mean, how can these things be objectively quantified? My perception of what makes a kiss extremely sensuous is completely different to yours as it is influenced by my experiences, opinions and personality.

So how can I use such an arbitrary factor to determine whether the movie is (objectively) good?

It just doesn’t work.

Aesthetic appreciation cannot be objective. I admit that there exist certain defining conditions of ‘beauty’ – or ‘entertainment’ in this case – which everyone will appreciate. Such as a movie’s ability to connect with, rejoice and produce an emotional response within us. But there are other characteristics that, if incorporated in two movies, can make one piece of celluloid entertaining yet another completely brash. And that is why I think movie reviews cannot be completely impartial in any means.

Okay, now that I’ve expressed my utter disdain at movie reviewers’ inability to extort their emotional responses to movies from their writings of them, I would now like to write a subjective review of Baaghi.

I am a complete movie fanatic, but those movies have to fall under certain categories; that being a Bollywood Romance/ Comedy/ Action movie.

Ironically, Baaghi encompasses all of these qualities.

It is romantic – as was manifest in the fervent love affair of Ronnie (Shroff’s character) and Sia (Kapoor’s character) that initiated within the first 10 minutes and became the root cause of conflict within the movie.

It is comedic – sporadic moments of humour stroll in through Grover’s portrayal of an embarrassingly greedy Punjabi father, whose clumsy actions eventually fuel more bloodshed than chuckles.

And it is action-packed because, come on it’s our very own athletic, super sexy and endearingly cute Tiger Shroff we’re talking about.

Ultimately, I was craving to watch a movie drenched in romance – the endearing, heart-fluttering, feel-good romance that I used to see Bollywood movies being consumed by. I’d even purchased the Baaghi album on iTunes and – delighted that it was composed as well as given vocals by my favourite artists – had it on repeat for a continuous week.

I think that’s when my expectations rose to cloud 9, only to come tumbling down when I realised that the songs made me more flustered than the actual romance in the movie. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the romance sucked but I just didn’t feel an emotional connection in the way I should have.

It was parallel to hearing a new song on the radio which begins with an enjoyable beat, after which you start anticipating the chorus; a chorus that will either form your emotional connection or break it. But you really like the beat and you know that the chorus will be good. You just know it. But suddenly the chorus plays and the thin needle that was slowly threading the song into your heart, breaks. There’s something missing in the chorus. This vital mechanism that could’ve ignited so many different emotions within you. That could’ve reminded you of certain people, places or events. That could’ve been associated with this particular period of your life. But no. The chorus failed to do all of these things. Suddenly, you’re completely disappointed. Because you know that, had the chorus encompassed those particular chords, it would’ve been a hit for you. It would’ve just clicked. But it failed to.

And that’s how I see Baaghi. The trailer, movie previews and album created a certain expectation in my mind that it’ll be strong on emotional connection for me. The action would be good. I  already knew that much. But the former wasn’t. In the process of encircling the romance, action and strapping teacher-student relation within 133 minutes, the filmmakers failed to create a justifiable balance between them all, and ended up breaking the thin needle that could’ve sown a strong emotional connection with the characters.

The action was there and it was good. But both the romance track and the Kalaripayattu track were merely touched upon. In both trails, Ronnie is supposedly developing a parallel emotional connection with Guruswami and Sia. But from an audience’s perspective, I failed to appreciate the depiction of emotion within these relations. Ronnie’s relation with Guruswami is comprised of a shared 5-minute screen space. So when he’s knelt beside the still-ablaze ashes of Guruswami, it becomes extremely difficult to empathise with his emotions for someone who he failed to respect just 10-movie-minutes ago.

And his relation with Sia becomes a confusing one. For although it forms the foundation for his ‘rebellion’, it’s difficult to pinpoint whether in the end he’s fighting for her, his Guruswami or the fact that he’s gotten himself in such a mess and the only way left is to fight or run! And well, he’s Tiger Shroff so he’s not exactly going to run, so the only way out is fight!

On the whole, it was an entertaining movie. I enjoyed the humour, songs and cute romance between Shroff and Kapoor. However, a little more rigour and a little more passion could’ve taken this movie to great heights (emotionally) for me. The thin fabric of connection that was casually forming when I watched the movie, was torn from the seams on hindsight.

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