Hindi Reviews

Baaghi 2 Review: High On Testosterone, Jingoism & Gaslighting That The 90s Left Behind

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A chiseled body, covered in grime and blood, and gleaming with sweat. Eyes sparkling with rage, gritted teeth and a purposeful look with well-fitted army fatigues, our hero, Ranveer Pratap Singh aka Ronnie, is introduced as the answer to all our problems. The pièce de résistance of our hero’s entry seems to be straight out of what an Army Major did last year in Kashmir, where he tied a man to his jeep as a human shield.

Defending his action, Ronnie says, “He disrespected the Indian flag!”He adds, they’re terrorists too.

Cue: Whistles and cheers, and mild chest thumping screams.

Five minutes into Baaghi 2, one thing is clear – nationalism, army, vardi (uniform), and revenge will be running high in this film that dedicates half its running time to the hero beating up men after men, almost as though he were in a violent video game.

***

The year is 2018 and we still have films that are every ‘macho’ man’s wet dream, with a generous dose of women as eye candy, some gaslighting to make her character a little more ‘significant’ and fight sequences to make our perfect hero more of a demigod. Villains are painted in no other shades but black, and our hero, who looks bronzed and ready to fight, is tasked to set the record straight. And he’s an Army man with anger issues, especially when his nationalism is under threat.
The film plays out pretty much what the trailer showed us – angry muscled man and a beautiful girl, one missing child, and how angry muscled man goes Hulk on every other man who comes his way.

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He has war paint on his face, camouflage pants, and guns with unlimited ammunition. The story is Tiger Shroff and his abs and nothing else.
A cliched plot, vanilla names like Neha, Ranveer Pratap Singh, Sunny, Baaghi 2 has everything that a filmmaker would’ve left back in the 90s. Action films occasionally make a comeback, but one man beating up an entire bunch of equally burly men will never be passe. Or so choreographer-turned-director Ahmed Khan would like to think.
Neha’s (Disha Patani) daughter, Ria, is kidnapped, and no one seems to help her. Not even her husband (Darshan Kumar), who appears indifferent. The police are lascivious bastards who do nothing. People around her are under the belief that Neha never had a daughter. Two months go by and there’s still no clue. A desperate Neha contacts her former lover, Ronnie (Tiger Shroff) after four years.
Ronnie, who is still hurt that she left him on their wedding day, vows to help her. And off he goes breaking bones, murdering tattooed men, and basically anyone with two legs and guns in front of him. All for his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, because true love never dies.
Tiger Shroff has clearly worked hard to perfect his body. The acting, however, reminds you of all things wooden. If anything, Tiger should be lauded for carrying out one single expression throughout – gritted teeth and angry look.
Disha Patani has little to do other than always look doe-eyed and sad. As Neha, we only know her as Ronnie’s ex and his purpose. Without her connection with Ronnie, there isn’t much to her character. You only get vignettes of her smiling, crying, or dancing most of the time. She might be credited as the female lead, but really it’s more of a supporting role.
Since Baaghi 2 has been established as an exclusive ‘let’s-focus-on-Tiger Shroff-only’ film, good actors like Manoj Bajpai, Deepak Dobriyal, Darshan Kumar, and Randeep Hooda end up being sidelined, with nothing to contribute apart from giving more screen time to Tiger. Even Prateik Babbar, who makes a comeback after a rather difficult past, plays a character that is so wafer-thin and so cliched. You end up feeling bad for the guy playing a drug-addled man on screen, perhaps owing to his past.
A film that promotes toxic masculinity, women as emotional pretty birds, and where characters call each other with eye-roll worthy nicknames like Pepper Spray and Brown Bread Sandwich, there’s little to recommend. If anything, Tiger’s character makes you want to pick out a Sylvester Stallone film from the 80s and perhaps settle down to watch that instead.
***
The Baaghi 2 review is a Silverscreen original article.

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