You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ek Tha Tiger

This spy thriller-romance mixes and matches genre conventions with varying degrees of success.

With: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth.

Mixing and matching genre conventions with varying degrees of success, “Ek Tha Tiger” is a spy thriller-romance featuring a pair of kickass agents (a la “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) who belong to opposite sides of the Indian/Pakistani divide until love turns them both rogue, setting their respective agencies in murderous pursuit (shades of the Bourne movies). Result boasts some excellent action sequences, most performed by megastar Salman Khan, and indeed is generally more effective in fight scenes than in hearts-and-flowers mode. Though Kabir Khan’s film broke B.O. records on its Aug. 15 Independence Day weekend release, crossover success looks unlikely.

The plot casts Khan as superspy Tiger. An exciting prologue, set among the winding streets, bazaars and rooftops of an Iraqi village, finds Tiger handily defeating a bunch of assassins on his tail. From there the action moves to Dublin, where exchanges with his boss (Girish Karnad) reveal Tiger as a dedicated, most un-Bond-like spy who couldn’t care less about wine, women or luxury vacations.

Thus, when Tiger falls hard for sexy dance student Zoya (Katrina Kaif), he can muster no defense. Disguised as a dorky writer, Tiger alternates between lovestruck mooniness, learning dating dos and don’ts from fellow agent Gopi (Ranveer Shorey), and high-octane heroism, stopping a runaway tram with just his jacket, which he then dons en route to meet his lady love. This Clark Kent/Superman-style back-and-forth lasts almost until intermission, when Tiger discovers Zoya’s true colors as a covert op.

In the second act, the lovers reunite in Istanbul and finally flee to Havana, mowing down pursuers separately or in tandem. Helmer Khan makes excellent use of exotic locales for his breathless setpiece chases and somewhat cliched use of regional cultural motifs for his song-accompanied, multiple-costumed romantic montages.

The Yash Raj studio, in choosing a director habitually associated with serious subjects, no doubt hoped to add class and significance to the usual Salman Khan testosterone sprees. Certainly the filmmaker brings a degree of realism to the melees: Tiger dispatches murderous villains one by one with satisfying ingenuity, rather than sending several flying simultaneously. The truly ridiculous is reserved for key moments only. The helmer also imposes a more unified vision on the ensemble, opting for situational humor instead of relying on second-string buffoons.

Kaif displays some impressive moves in her action-heroine debut, while Salman Khan’s thinking-on-his-feet immediacy adds depth to his usual macho muscle. Local auds will no doubt derive a special thrill from the onscreen reunion of stars Khan and Kaif, once an offscreen item.

Slickly produced “Tiger” profits greatly from Aseem Mishra’s gorgeous location lensing.

Ek Tha Tiger


Production: A Yash Raj Films release and production. Produced by Aditya Chopra. Executive producer, Aashish Singh. Directed by Kabir Khan. Screenplay, Khan, Neelesh Misra; story, Aditya Chopra.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Aseem Mishra; editor, Rameshwar S. Bhagat; music, Julius Packiam, Sohail Sen, Sajid-Wajid; lyrics, Kausar Muni, Neelesh Misra, Anvita Dutt; production designers, Sukant Panigrahy, John Hand, Melih Borogan, Carlos Urdanivia, Worapol Dhanashoti; costume designers, Alvira Khan, Ashley Rebello, Arun Chauhan, Anoushka Veljee; sound (Dolby Digital), Debasish Mishra, Dwarak Warrier; action director, Markos Routhwaite; choreographers, Vaibhavi Merchant, Ahmed Khan; visual effects supervisor, Vishal Anand; casting, Shanoo Sharma. Reviewed at Big Cinema, New York, Aug. 15, 2012. Running time: 132 MIN. (I: 66 MIN.; II: 66 MIN.)

With: With: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth.

More Film

  • 'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-And-Date China Release

    'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-And-Date China Release

    Marvel Studios’ hotly-anticipated Brie Larson-starring blockbuster “Captain Marvel” will hit Chinese theaters on the same day as it debuts in North America. The female-led picture will release on March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former fighter pilot who joins [...]

  • Peter Rabbit trailer

    Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.8% in 2018

    Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films. Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content