'Liger', produced by Dharma Productions and Puri Connects, was released in theatres today.
Liger has a natural flair for combat sports. He and his mother move to Mumbai and start running a tea stall. Thanks to his mother's motivation, Liger starts making giant strides in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) under the guidance of an expert coach. But his love affair with Taniya becomes a huge obstacle in his path. Liger develops a rivalry with Taniya's elder brother Sanju and eventually has to move to Las Vegas to realize his dream of representing India at the World MMA Championship. Once in Las Vegas, Liger faces a couple of new challenges.
Vijay Deverakonda kicks into high gear right from the start. He delivers a highly motivated performance, although he doesn't quite make us feel for his vulnerabilities (that's because of the script flaws). The stuttering problem is portrayed in a basic fashion. The stunts should have been way more seductive to amplify his performance.
Ramya Krishna is routine; she fails to bring a sense of freshness to the table. The flaw lies more in the way she has been written as a familiar character. Ananya Panday's character was supposed to be the fulcrum of the story, but there is nothing 'aafat' or 'bombhaat' about it.
Casting Mike Tyson was manipulative; the former American professional boxer has been wasted in a silly cameo. Ronit Roy and Vishu Reddy (or Vish) are average. Makarand Deshpande and Ali are forgettable. Chunky Panday and Getup Srinu get better parts in terms of length.
The film's various songs are from different composers. Tanishk Bagchi's 'Aafat' works. Jaani, Lijo George-DJ Chetas make 'Coka 2.0' is pointless. The choice of singers is a mixed affair, with Anurag Kulkarni and Ram Miriyala lending distinct touches compared to others. Sunil Kashyap's background score is average.
Vishnu Sarma's cinematography captures the clamorous nature of the screenplay at times well. But most of the time, it is too generic. Junaid Siddiqui's editing is even in a badly executed film. Jonny Shaik Basha's art direction doesn't lend a unique character to the film.
As things stand, the only difference between RGV and Puri Jagannadh is that the latter continues to show some effort in execution. On the scripting front, he is firmly in the RGV territory, from where there is no point of return. You can only be ultra-confident in that zone. If others criticize you, the fault is theirs. To look updated, you give controversial interviews or become a podcaster.
'Liger' is so run-of-the-mill that calling it vintage Puri would be an insult to his masterpieces: 'Amma Nanna O Tamilammayi' and 'Pokiri'. The biggest miracle about 'Liger' is not that the hero's mother is able to motivate her son in a snap every single time (probably, she as a child wanted to become a motivational guru). What is the biggest miracle is that 'Liger' thinks the audience are going to love a Puri hero who doesn't speak much. You will barely remember Vijay speaking in the film. In that scene where Ramya Krishna delivers a lengthy monologue about the need to stay away from girls, she spoke more than Vijay did in the entire film.
We go in expecting larger-than-life action moments and raw kickboxing/MMA moments in the film. Remember 'Liger' was billed as a semi-sports actioner. But the lack of conviction is so clear that Puri resorts to the services of Mike Tyson to salvage a silly climax with a sillier plot turn, if it can even be called one. When the film is over, it feels not only sudden but also heavily undercooked.
The less said about the negative characters, the better. Vish's Sanju shouts and hams. The whole bunch at the training academy in Mumbai is so routine. The Las Vegas scenes go for a toss with the introduction of a rich man's character and his laughable priorities.
The songs are placed badly. The fights don't have fresh situations going for them. The chemistry between the lead pair is a non-starter.
'Liger' doesn't go beyond familiar tropes and formulaic stretches. 'iSmart Shankar' at least had excellent songs. This one has no redeeming features.