Film: “A Flying Jatt”; Director: Remo d’Souza; Cast: Tiger Shroff, Nathan Jones, Amrita Singh, Jacqueline Fernandez, K.K. Menon
It isn’t a bird. It isn’t a plane. And it’s definitely not Superman. Why must the desi superhero behave like a country cousin of his Hollywood counterpart?
Remo d’Souza, who makes indigenous films based on western concepts such as the dance-competition genre which he made into “ABCD” (it was actually ‘Ka Kha Ga Gha’), here turns the superhero genre on its head. And he has a ball coiling twisting twirling Tiger Shroff – we all know how mouldable he is – in a ball of helpless heroism.
Tiger is the light of this light-hearted take on super-heroism. The young dancer-fighter can take a joke on himself even if it shows him to be less than heroic. There is a whole chunk of satirical heroism in the narrative where Aman/Flying Jatt goes out into the night to save the world and comes home red-faced and humiliated to his bullying mom (Amrita Singh, doing a Kirron Kher) and a giggling brother (Gaurav Pandey, excellent).
“Dead Pool” thereby drowns in its own laughter. And no one is seriously hurt by K.K. Menon’s over-the-top villainy, even when Tiger’s adversary is an imposing monster of a man – Raka (Nathan Jones) imported from the West but beaten to a pulp before the show is over.
What works wonderfully in the narrative’s favour is the mood of defiant desiness. No one here is trying to compete with the Captain Americas of the world, not even the special effects guys who give us the kind of superhero breeze-walk that we saw in “Shaktimaan” on Doordarshan. Then there is a magical tree with unfathomable miraculous powers where a rain-drenched fight (ably choreographed by Mohammed Amin Khatib) between Aman and Raka leaves the former with superhero powers and a Sikh religious emblem imprinted on his back.
Tiger is a laugh riot in conveying the spellbound bewilderment of an ordinary guy who can suddenly fly. The narrative keeps pace with its sincerely committed hero most of the way, slowing down reverentially for an animation crash-course on Sikh history, as to why and how the adage of Sardarjis losing their equilibrium at the stroke of 12 came about.
It’s an interesting take on how the Sardarji jokes wound themselves into a joke out of a poignant moment in Sikh history. In a way, D’Souza attempts the same subversion of the superhero in “A Flying Jatt”. He plays around with the tenets of the genre without tampering with the basic format.
The narrative is never allowed to topple over the edge even when it reaches into recesses of thematic exploration far beyond the permissible boundaries of the superhero film. There is even a homage to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachch Bharat” campaign with hordes of turbaned junior artistes sweeping roads and planting trees.
The end result is funny and earnest. While Tiger, Gaurav and Amrita look like one happy family, Jacqueline Fernandez is the odd one out. I only remember her grinning vacuously and running towards the superhero with two bottle-gourds in her hand.
Now that’s what we call a “lauki” performance.