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When ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ sent wrong signals…

By Gayatri Sankar | Last Updated: Saturday, August 18, 2012 - 10:13
Gayatri Sankar
The Revolutionary

<i>Disclaimer: This blog contains spoilers. So, if you haven’t watched ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ yet, please do not read any further.</i>

I had pre-booked my ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ ticket almost a month back and was eagerly waiting for the film to make a splash on the silver screen on Independence Day. The Salman Khan fan in me was perhaps roaring louder than the ‘Tiger’ himself and I could do little but surrender to the man’s aura that often reflects both on and off screen. I was thrilled, super excited and in awe.

The film opened to a jam-packed audience, most of which included Salman’ianites’ who welcomed their idol with huge thunder of applause and squeaky sounds of whistles. And I, as a true Salman fan, enjoyed every moment of the sheer enthusiasm that swept the cinema hall!

But as the film unfolded, my ecstasy turned into agony and I was left deeply hurt wondering if I really wanted to question my intelligence and my sense of nationalism! The film turned out to be a mockery of the Indian and Pakistani intelligence services that keep working round the clock to serve their respective nations.

Coming from a filmmaker like Kabir Khan, known for his sensibilities and impeccable expertise on realism, I couldn’t imagine he was the captain of a ‘sinking’ ship like ETT. I have been in awe of his method of treating films. Khan’s first feature film, ‘Kabul Express’, a film shot under huge threat in a ravaged Afghanistan soon after the US attack, was a cult film in my view. Everything was apt, prim and proper. But ETT compelled me to wonder if he is the same Kabir Khan!

ETT, touted as a blockbuster much ahead of its release, couldn’t prove to be a gift to Indians on the day the country was freed of its slavery 66 years ago. I wanted and hoped the film to be a treat to watch on a day that would make every Indian proud. But alas! I was hopelessly left clueless and pained.

Here’s recalling a patriotic number from a classic film titled ‘Shaheed’:

‘Aye Watan aye watan humko teri qasam teri rahon mein jaan tak luta jayenge
Phool kya cheez hai teri kadmon mein hum bhent apne saron ki chadha jayenge’
(We swear by you our dear motherland; we would give away our lives for you. Flowers aren’t something that we would want to offer to you, when we are more than willing to get beheaded for your sake!)

Doesn’t it bring goose bumps when you hum these lines? Doesn’t your throat get choked on hearing such inspiring and soulful song? We have had a number of patriotic films that are awe inspiring and that deal with innumerable ways of showing love for the motherland. And a film like ETT ridicules the selfless sacrifices of thousands of revolutionaries and freedom fighters; and the purpose of having intelligence agencies.

ETT could have perhaps taken a leaf out of the books of one of the classic patriotic films made earlier or even gotten inspired by real life RAW officials, who don’t contemplate ending their lives for the country.

I admit there can be madness. But there has to be a method to it. Filmmaking does give one the liberty to add fantasy to fiction but dealing with sensitive issues mindlessly cannot be excused.

RAW and ISI are portrayed as mute spectators at the end of the film, who can’t punish their traitors. The agents are shown standing witness to lawlessness and breach of conduct and there’s no duty-bound official to stop the wrong doing.

The filmmakers might have intended to lay more emphasis on romance but could have justified it in a more responsible way. Tiger, the character turns out to be a self-centered RAW agent at the end, who doesn’t mind kicking his job for love. And hence for me the title ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ looks apt, as I am afraid had he been existing now; he wouldn’t have been spared by the responsible citizens of the country.

The film has redefined ethics, morality, trust, nationalism and duty in a way that is nothing but shamelessly <i>filmi</i> !

I certainly did not expect ETT to open on Independence Day this way! Blind followers of Salman Khan might heap praises but the film conveys a wrong message that might just undo all what our real heroes have done for the country so far.

I am completely disillusioned. I would rather be true to myself than try to please someone who I am otherwise a fan of.

First Published: Saturday, August 18, 2012 - 10:13

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