Saturday, November 08, 2014

ROAR: Tigers of the Sundarbans

Funny-ish coincidence: The RiffTrax Live encore screening of Anaconda was happening just a few screens down, which popped into my head both because this is a general "go into the jungle and get messed up by nasty animals" film and because there are snakes later on. Not that it was between those two, since I tend to think of those sort of things as kind of parasitic. No, I was thinking Nightcrawler, but figured that would stick around and I was kind of in the mood for something a bit lighter.

Not many others were; I was just the only one in there when I arrived just in time for the movie to start, although a few others arrived soon after. The ad package was winding down, though, and I found myself amused by that. It's about a twenty minute presentation, so it must have started without a ticket having been sold, and the film itself probably would have too, because everything is on a timer now. Seems like kind of a waste of electricity, at the very least, especially since I remember how when I worked in a theater, the show was just off if we didn't get a ticket sale by showtime, although sometimes (if the time between screenings was tight), we might have started the trailer reel but shut it down if nobody came before that was over.

(I half expect this to be used as a justification for theater-hopping sometime - "the film was playing anyway, and I saw no need for it to go to waste!")

That this played for a week (albeit sharing the screen with a held-over Happy New Year - kind of points out what a weird situation movie distribution could be, though. I'll bet I could find a half-dozen movies of similar types and better quality among those that played Fantasia and/or Fantastic Fest which won't play much outside of video on demand, but this one got booked because Regal plays a Bollywood movie or two when they've got room for it, even though the potential audience might be smaller.

ROAR: Tigers of the Sundarbans

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 4 November 2014 in Regal Fenway #4 (first-run, DCP)

I ask this question half in jest, and half out of curiosity: Can you make the equivalent of an R-rated movie in India? If one can, then I'm not sure why Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans is holding back; this movie wants to be a bloody bit of man-versus-nature exploitation, but something keeps holding it back. I'm not sure what does short of an actual or effective prohibition on excessive blood and guts, because the pulpiest, most enjoyable moments indicate that it's not good taste.

Heck, when wildlife photographer Uday Singh (Pulkit) finds a white tiger cub tied up in the Subdarbans preserve and doesn't just free it but brings it back to the nearest, his guide Madhu (Pranay Dixit) says, in so many words, that this will be disastrous. And it is, as the cub's mother comes seeking her child. That leaves Uday's brother Pandit (Abhinav Shukla) looking for revenge, bringing five of his army buddies in to help hunt the tigress down, with Madhu and local guide Jhumpa (Himarsha) helping them navigate the salt-water canals and dangerous animals of the Sundarbans region.

That's two boats' worth of cast to get whittled down, and considering the circumstances, director Kamal Sadanah and his co-writers seem to take their sweet time getting around to it. What circumstances are those? Well, first, there is that few of the people in the cast are as memorable as Cheena (Virendra Singh Ghuman), a hulking beast of a man who stretches his camo to the breaking point, Crazy Jenny (Nora Fatehi), aka "CJ", who gets the best action scene despite a costume that really doesn't seem combat-ready, or Jhumpa, who somehow makes her bare midriff look more practical than CJ's. She also reminds us of the other thing that might make the audience impatient: Despite understanding Pandit's anger, who among us is really going to root for these guys to kill a mama tigress, not to mention a beautiful one-in-a-thousand variation of a species that is already endangered? I suspect most of us will be rooting for the big cat on a certain level.

Full review at EFC.

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