Watching Tiger 3 is an experience- one that goes on for far too long. Six years after his last stint, R&AW agent Tiger (Salman Khan) is back again. This time, to save his “sasural,” Pakistan from its evils. Tiger, whom we had met previously in Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) is living a quiet life with his son, Junior, and wife, Zoya (Katrina Kaif), a former Pakistani ISI agent in Austria. That is until trouble comes calling turning his suspicion onto Zoya.
Tiger tracks her activities throughout the day, looks into what she is doing, and follows her around the city but just as he is reassured that she is not double-timing him with her former agency, he meets her in the middle of a chase (and with the most horrible disguise on). It is soon revealed that their son Junior is being held hostage by Atish Rehman (Emraan Hashmi) and to save him, Zoya has decided to get his bidding done without involving Tiger. Is his wife betraying him and his nation? Is she in trouble? Tiger goes on a mission of his own, to find answers.
If that was the entire plot of the Tiger 3, maybe it would have been far more enjoyable than whatever khichdi was cooked instead. Atish Rehman who has expertly mixed his personal with his political, is determined not only to punish Tiger but also his nation, by staging a military coup. He thinks it is the only way that the nation can progress and the peace-loving Prime Minister who wants to strike a peace deal with India, is shown as weak and inefficient. Emraan Hashmi is surprisingly good in his role as the bitter yet determined Rehman who comes back stronger (with more manpower) after each failure.
Katrina Kaif is as stunning as Zoya, her action scenes are both graceful and powerful, and certainly far more enjoyable than any other. Her towel-clad fight scene at a Turkish hammam, however, distinctively employs a male gaze that is all too glaring but one that Katrina manages to work wonders with.
Katrina is nimble both in her emotional scenes as well as her fight sequences, making her quite refreshing, especially in contrast to Tiger, who only seems to weigh heavily on the plot. There are too many backstories and emotional plot points to convince the audience that the long duration of the film is worth the time but instead, it ends up being exhausting.
Salman Khan as Tiger is simply exhausting. He is constantly chasing something or fighting something else with a tremendous male saviour complex. If “no thoughts head empty,” had a representational character, it would probably be him.
All works of intelligence, planning, and strategisation are done by his trusty team who are efficient and reliable, unlike their Pakistani counterparts who are shown to betray each other and are bought by Rehman’s vengeful worldview rather than national interests. It comes to its culmination when he saves the Pakistani Prime Minister against all odds and false allegations. The prime minister thanks him profusely and almost makes him a national hero even as Khan has a total of perhaps three interchanging expressions throughout the film.
Nevertheless, Tiger’s name for his missions, Timepass, is a telling sign of what the film does. It meanders through too many scenes without any direction and is sprinkled with a plethora of action scenes.
The most exciting part about Tiger 3 is perhaps its cameo from Tiger’s brother from another film of the Yash Raj Spy Universe, Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan) whom we had seen in his film earlier in the year. Tiger and Pathaan’s brotherhood features a thrilling bike chase (perhaps a homage to Jai and Veeru’s iconic scene from Sholay) as Pathaan comes to the rescue of Tiger who had been held captive by Pakistani militants.
The Yash Raj Spyverse is certainly ambitious but the cameos truly deliver. The action sequence with Tiger and Pathaan lasts for more than thirty minutes and is one of the only exciting parts of the film. There is also a surprise cameo from Hrithik Roshan’s Kabir (from the film, War) at the end. However, it seems to serve more as a clue for what will come next in the War series, than tie it up with Tiger’s missions.
Directed by Maneesh Sharma, this instalment of the Tiger series also lacks a thriller-action punch that is present much more prominently in the other two films of the series. It tries to focus more on the emotional aspects of the character. However, instead of grounding them, it only goes on to make them more exhausting to watch. There are plenty of whistle-worthy dialogues by Shridhar Raghavan and delivered by Salman Khan. But it would perhaps have been better if they were made to fit in a shorter duration.
Tiger 3 is also littered with surprisingly fewer song and dance sequences which could have been an attempt at a more serious form of storytelling. Although, we would not have minded a few more breaks from the story rather than the single, celebratory song at the very end of the film.
Despite the film’s excessive runtime and convoluted storytelling, Tiger 3 demonstrates potential within the Yash Raj Spyverse. The interplay between Tiger and Pathaan unveils an intriguing universe, hinting at future collaborations and expanding the scope of these characters. The film’s overstretched narrative might falter, yet it plants seeds for an interconnected web of espionage narratives that could captivate the Indian audience.
While the emotional depth attempted in this film might have overshadowed the action, it serves as a bridge to a more nuanced and layered exploration of the characters and their intertwined missions in subsequent films, promising a more balanced and gripping cinematic experience. For this time though, Tiger might have saved the two nations he holds dear, but certainly not the experience.