'A Flying Jatt': An agonising shtick (Review By Troy Ribeiro, Rating: **)
"A Flying Jatt", is the story of the local superhero of the same name. Apart from the name, there is nothing original about the film. The character, chiselled on the lines of the DC Comics fictional character Superman, is an Indianised version of the superhero which includes his traits and costume.
It is the story of a reluctant martial arts teacher, Aman Dhillon (Tiger Shroff) who is forced to fight a prominent and powerful industrialist, Mr. Malhotra and his goons, when they forcibly try to usurp a track of land which his mother, Mrs. Dhillon (Amrita Singh) owns.
How Aman transforms from a meek person to the local crusader -- "A Flying Jatt", forms the crux of the tale.
The film is director Remo D'Souza's pretentious plea to save the planet. Pretentious because the film, in all sincerity, is treated with an artificiality which includes his direct appeal -- "Everything has an alternative, except Mother Earth."
The plot is layered and complex, but not without flaws. It ropes in all the tried and tested formulas of film marketing; Deus ex-machina as a plot device, a superhero who tugs on patriotic themes and religious affinity, bonding with the mother, romance, fight between good and evil and moreover, it tackles the serious issue of environmental pollution.
Apart from this, the film is replete with tell-and-show expositions, half-baked characters, plot holes galore and interplanetary fight sequences.
Tiger Shroff in the titular role is sincere and charming. With a stubble and turban he is striking and he lights up the screen with his presence. His character is designed like a satire and he excels in its caricature, but the poorly scripted drama does not back him enough.
Jacqueline Fernandez in a relatively small role is competent as Aman's love interest, the giggly headed Kriti.
She looks radiant, performs ably and matches Tiger in histrionics. But she fails to be consistent in the accent. Her dialogue delivery fluctuates from an anglicised accent to a local one.
The hulk Nathan Jones plays the stereotypical henchman with aplomb and elevates the character to the rank of an antagonist. Kay Kay Menon as the pivotal bad man essays his role in a hackneyed manner.
The two characters who make their presence felt are Amrita Singh as the drunk Mrs. Dhillon and the character who plays Rohit -- Aman's friend, accomplice and brother-figure.
Technically, the film boasts of ace production values, but the spirit is diluted with poor craftsmanship.
The effects are not at par with international standards and though the computer generated images mesh seamlessly into the live action, the finesse is missing.
The songs are well choreographed and well picturised except for the "Beat pe booty". This one seems forced and poorly mounted in a studio environment.
Overall, the director seems to have lost the plot after the second act, as the narrative meanders making the entire comic affair agonising.
'A Flying Jatt': A Bonafide Desi Super-Entertainer (Review By Subhash K Jha, Rating: ***)
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.