Remember the viral ‘peeche toh dekho’ kid from Pakistan? In the world of Baaghi 3, that kid has now grown up, immigrated to Syria, lost his specs and turned excessively lean. Played by Vijay Varma, he runs petty street scams, hiding under a beanie and long hair. Perhaps he’s had enough, I thought, vexed by memes and a toxic social media culture. He admits as much to Ronnie (Tiger Shroff) and Siya (Shraddha Kapoor), instructing them to follow him in real-life and not on TikTok or Instagram. “Peeche dekho (look back),” he says again, only this time it doesn’t sound as endearing. He’s instead telling them to watch out for cops.
There are more dark layers to Ahmed Khan’s action epic. After a short intro, the film flips into prologue. We see Ronnie as a kid, roughing up bullies for hurting his elder brother Vikram. When they return home, Ronnie is brutally whipped by their father. The dad here is played by Jackie Shroff, in a bit of meta-fan servicing gone awfully wrong. When the kids grow up to be a mismatched set – one roguish, the other shy – it’s like the two halves of Tiger’s personality manifesting in separate beings.
Here I quit the psychoanalyzing to talk about the guns and tanks. Grown-up Vikram (Riteish Deshmukh) is a cop in Agra. Inept at fighting crime, he counts on Ronnie secretly subbing on his behalf. Ronnie is part Green Arrow and part Flash – who also wields a hammer and a shield. The action set pieces are large but repetitive. The opening fight is restaged kick for kick in the climax. There are two identical shots of Tiger swinging from a chain. There’s little invention, and not a whiff of logic.
Ronnie crashes unscathed from a chopper to a roof, the setting of an empty field magically replaced by an enemy hideout. It gets incredibly tedious, despite the smaller, stealthier sequences along the way. Screenwriter Farhad Samji, for all his tireless punning, keeps the motivations firmly personal. Siya’s phone cover as the words ‘Haan Bol’ (Say Yes) written on it. This is perhaps Shraddha’s mantra every time a franchise project comes her way. Tiger as usual operates in two modes: he’s either beating people up or blubbing inconsolably.