'Liger' review: Vijay Deverakonda's film is so bad that you would want to cry
If anyone ever asks you the meaning of the term 'ham' - show them 'Liger'. Everything about this Puri Jagannadh directorial venture is over the top and a cringe-fest. People are animated for no reason, shouting for no reason and excited for no reason. Featuring Vijay Deverakonda in the lead role, 'Liger' is an utter disaster from the word 'go'.
Considering the hype that the makers had created before the film's release, one had hoped it would at least have a meaty story. It marks the Bollywood debut of Vijay Deverakonda, a well-known face in Telugu cinema, and a national heartthrob. And so, the expectation from 'Liger' was massive. It also has big Bollywood producer Karan Johar backing the film. On paper, the martial -art drama may have appeared to be the perfect launch pad for Deverakonda but on screen, it was torture for 140 minutes.
What is 'Liger' about?
Deverakonda plays Liger, a man who stammers and harbours to win the MMA national championship. He moves to Mumbai with his mother Balamani (Ramya Krishnan) in hopes to get professional training. His mother sells tea on a portable kiosk to make do.
Balamani - a self-declared Tigress has only one aim in life, to push her son to become a successful MMA star. Doesn't matter that she hits, abuses and somewhat ridicules his stammering throughout. It is a slightly toxic relationship that the mother and son share, where in a bid to motivate her son, she resorts to violence, anger and abuse throughout. Liger's father, we are told was also an MMA fighter and called a Lion in the ring. He too had harboured dreams of winning the national championship but had an untimely death in the ring. At all times, we are told Liger is rare and a cross breed- but why is he rare is never explained.
Balamani convinces a well-known Jeet Kune Do trainer( Ronit Roy) to train Liger for free. There is also Ananya Panday, sister of Sanju- Liger's rival in the ring, who falls in love with him and well...things get complicated from there on.
Story and dialogues fail the film
Lots of mindless action sequences, arbitrary songs and a story that lacks logic- 'Liger' feels like an ordeal to sit through. Actors- all credible ones- ham through their parts. Dialogues, written by Prashant Pandey and story by Jagannadh himself waste the talent on screen. Vijay Deverakonda trained hard to look his part but is let down by terrible writing.
The film could have easily been an out-and-out action thriller. A lot of similar stories have done well in the past. The problem with 'Liger' is that it tries to forcibly put in a nationalistic angle when the protagonist decides to represent India in the world championship. He is also called by the international media the 'Chaiwala from India' (get it, get it?) - plot points that seem completely unnecessary to the narrative. It is also a very insensitive and sexist film where the women only live for the men in their lives. They give others threats on behalf of their son, brother, and boyfriend. Their only purpose in life is to belittle the men. And they are even referred to as chudails (witches). So cute, na?
Insensitive and sexist
It also majorly makes fun and insensitive remarks about the lead's speech problem. Liger's mother too feels it's a flaw that he can only overcome if he is successful. Sure people who stammer perhaps lack confidence but to constantly be berated for it by the world at large is slightly stretching it.
The songs come and go with no particular reason, and Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday's chemistry too falls flat. By the end, your brain has numbed to such an extent that when boxing legend Mike Tyson appears during the climax, you forget to take notice. It's a separate thing that Tyson's cameo is laughable and sinks the film to a new level.
At a time when several south films are doing well at the box office nationwide, 'Liger' is an important reminder to makers that a hit template from down south may not always work in the north.
Vijay Deverakonda deserved a better Bollywood launch than this. 'Liger' is not worth your time.