With Puri Jagannadh taking the credit for story, screenplay and direction, it’s easier to make him the solo dartboard. For there is much to hurl at him.
Perhaps the only original thought is the name Liger, the son of Lion Balram (a fighter who died before he won the national championship) and tigress Balamani (Ramya Krishnan) who vows to make her son achieve what her husband couldn’t. All originality begins and ends with the title.
The Indian flag, held aloft somewhere in Las Vegas by a chaiwala turned champ, slogans of ‘Watt laga denge’ and ‘We’re Indians, duniya ko aag laga denge’ cannot be more blatant at striking a patriotic note. But there’s little for India to be proud of if the flagbearer is The Vijay Deverakonda (that’s how he’s introduced in the opening credits), a fighter with a stutter.
First, I’ve lost count of the number of movies that have themed an underdog street fighter and pushed him into the international ring. Didn’t Farhan Akhtar too attempt it recently in Toofan and fail miserably? So the fight of the underdog who has to grow up to avenge his father is as old as B Subhash’s Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (1984).
Two, a hero with a great body whose weakness is that he stutters doesn’t add any value or extra dimension to the character especially when Liger Deverakonda stammers off and on and not consistently. There’s also little emotion invested in the speech-challenged hero’s situations with only the oft-seen jibes and taunts that people tend to throw at someone who stutters. It’s therefore, as emotionally unstirring as Laal Singh Chaddha’s walk impediment.
Three, Christopher Master (Ronit Roy) who agrees to train Liger for the MMA championships and mother Balamani ply the streetfighter with advice on “focus” with both advising him not to get distracted by girls. Like that’s the only distraction in life.
Four, between the mother and son, girls are labelled “devils”, the hero touches the boobs of a woman fighter and goes oops, the hero declares that women are okay to kiss but not okay to fight, there’s even a line about impregnating them…How did Puri Jagannadh’s last millennium male get past today’s censors?
Five, Ramya Krishnan starts off as a fiery mother but soon thinks she’s back on the sets of Baahubali (especially when goading her son in his fight scenes) with eyes wide open and rolling.
Six, Ramya’s not the only one hamming it up. ‘The Vijay Deverakonda’ whose body is perfect for the role also performs like he’s filibustering at an election rally.
Seven, absolutely unforgivable is the character sketch of privileged rich girl Tanya, the ditzy airhead played by Ananya Panday, whose sole aspiration is to be a Social Media queen. To top the effete role is a chemistry-less romance, ah the distraction Liger was warned against. With outdated dance moves and songs that are inserted unfashionably, the viewer isn’t enticed to invest in this romance. Imagine, after being ticked off over the phone by Balamani, Tanya’s punchline is, “Where’s my vodka?” For someone who does nothing but party and pout, there’s also a sudden, “I’m a superstar’ line she throws at Liger before stomping off to Hollywood, no less.
Eight, a rich sponsor with a private jet crops up in Chunky Panday to save the moment and take Liger to Las Vegas. But even men as smart as Christopher Master don’t bother to check out who he is and it isn’t as if he’s got a secret or a double identity. As for Mike Tyson, a fight between Liger and him with the dead father as motivation is turned into a light-hearted bout with more attempts at humour than punches thrown at each other. How’s that for a climax scene?
One could go on but you do get the picture, right?
Watch Liger Trailer: