The sane way to appreciate films is by watching good movies. From old Hollywood classics to international genre fare, there’s so much to choose from that you’ll lose track of time and fall in love with movies over and over again. But the problem with that process is that watching too much of a good thing can lead to you taking it for granted. Dynamic camerawork, pitch-perfect editing, rousing performances, and more will seem like they can be done easily. That’s where my preferred, insane way of appreciating every aspect of art associated with the entertainment medium comes in: watching bad films. And there’s no movie right now, on the big screen, that’ll force you to realize how tough it’s to make good films other than “Heropanti 2 (2022)”.
The first question that’ll probably cross your mind after reading “Heropanti 2” is whether it has anything to do with “Heropanti (2014)”. The answer to that is, “no, it doesn’t.” This is a Bollywood film. They don’t make sequels that are a direct continuation (or even an indirect continuation) of the previous movie. They just use the title and add a “2” to it. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the same actor play a different character with the same name as the one in the original, which in this case is Babloo (Tiger Shroff). If you’re not lucky, well, you’ll see a sequel where the character you fell in love with in the original has a different face. It’s called recasting. So, if it isn’t a sequel and a standalone film, what’s the story, you ask? Well, Ahmed Khan does his best to not let you understand what’s going on in the movie. Still, let’s try to decipher it.
RJ (It’s still Tiger Shroff) lives with his mother (Amrita Singh), who thinks he is the most innocent person in the world but is always down on his luck. RJ works as a bouncer at a bar. But after a scuffle, he gets kicked out of there. He also gets a job as Inaaya’s (Tara Sutaria) driver, who is a game developer or the head of a gaming company. She recognizes him as Babloo and sexually harasses him in front of a bunch of people, who don’t protest Inaaya’s behavior, by the way, to check for a mark on his derriere. When Inaaya doesn’t find any marks, she lets Babloo go. That’s when it’s revealed that he’s some kind of spy who used to work for Khan (Zakir Hussain), a senior official who is looking to nab an Indian criminal named Laila (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). And Babloo is Laila’s #1 enemy because he betrayed him in the past, and so now, Laila wants to kill Babloo. Laila also wants to siphon off the common Indian’s money on tax day and become rich.
Coming back to the point about appreciating films by watching bad movies like “Heropanti 2,” every second frame in this 142-minute-long slog will make you wonder if it’s a bunch of YouTube clips with high production value strung together. Because there’s no sense of cohesion to what’s happening on-screen. People are in a country one moment, then they are in a completely different country in a matter of minutes, seconds, or hours. Babloo is shot in his ass (yes, there’s a lot going on around that part of Tiger Shroff’s body), the bullet is extracted by an over-sexualized veterinarian, and a few moments later, he is dancing to A.R. Rahman’s “Dafa Kar.” The visual “humor” has a commentary track where the characters address everything that’s happening on-screen. For example, if a piano gets wrecked, Tiger says the piano got wrecked. If Tiger moves right to dodge a blade, Nawazuddin says so. And let’s not get into the logic of the anti-gravity Lamborghinis, and the ninjas since no one watching this movie is here to get an education in physics.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The audience knows they’re here to look at beautiful people doing crazy things on a massive canvas. They don’t care about logic per se. The actors are clearly committed to their parts, sometimes even overcommitting, which then leads to varying results. You can see for yourself that the producer has given the filmmakers the money to pull off some of the most absurd stunts and fill the screen with so many stunt performers. Then, what is going wrong? Why is it so difficult to bear “Heropanti 2”? It’s easy to say that the cinematography, the editing, the ADR dialogue recording, or the performances are bad. However, the problem lies in the script and the director’s vision. These two elements aren’t bothered with creating clearly visible set-pieces or generating enough emotion to help you power through some of the nonsensical stuff. They spend so much time on such arbitrary, uninteresting, plots and subplots, instead of making a lean, plot-less, 90-minute-long action extravaganza, that it is truly frustrating. In addition to that, they waste the absolute unit of a man, and that’s Tiger Shroff.
As someone who watched “Heropanti” in the theater all the way back in 2014 and is always amazed to see Tiger defy the limitations of the human body, it’s heartbreaking to watch him in movies like “Heropanti 2”. Tiger Shroff has mass appeal and performs most of his own stunts without feeling the need to hide behind cuts. There’s no actor in the Hindi film industry like him. So, why is he starring in roles where he’s being sexualized in silly ways, where he’s sexualizing women in sillier ways, and then ranting about respecting women? He has the star power and the reach to get in touch with directors who have good ideas about action filmmaking and can extract the best out of him. He is in his prime. Once the injuries start to stack up, he won’t be able to do what he’s capable of doing now. Why waste it on movies with bloated narratives like “Baaghi 3 (2020)”, “Student of the Year 2 (2019)”, and “Munna Michael (2017)”? Just replicate the work in “War (2019).” Scale the scope down, if necessary, but not the craft.
In conclusion, please don’t watch “Heropanti 2” if you’re not in the mood to appreciate filmmaking. If you are, please do watch “Heropanti 2”. Because once you are done, and the headache given by the movie subsides, you’ll realize how tough it is to make a good film. You will start to look into the art of script-writing, choreographing action sequences, action cinematography, the unappreciated world of stunt performers, action direction, and the kind of sound design that’s required to make your punches and kicks feel real, rigging for vehicular stunts, and more. And if you know Tiger Shroff in any capacity, please tell him to showcase his skills in better movies than “Heropanti 2.”