Saturday, October 1, 2022

Liger: A crossbreed that we didn’t need

Not long ago Puri Jagannadh was considered as one of the most successful commercial directors in Tollywood. The director had made a niche for himself with Ravi Teja’s Amma Nana O Tamil Ammaye and Pawan Kalyan’s Badri among other films. Puri reached his peak with the blockbuster Pokiri starring Mahesh Babu.

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Vijya and the super rich Tanya, Ananya Pande

But since Pokiri Puri Jagnnadh has seen a dip with many indifferent films like Kalyan Ram’s Ism, Allu Arjun’s Iddarammmayilatho etc. These films lacked the solid masala that the director is known for. In the recent past only Junior NTR’s Temper and Ram’s Ismart Shankar have brought in some profits for the director. When Liger was announced people were excited to see what Puri would bring out from Vijay Devarakonda. Karan Johar backing it along with Mike Tyson’s special appearance made Liger an exciting project. Thanks to COVID Liger has been in the making for over two years and has finally released in a period of huge uncertainty. An apt description for Liger’s quality would be dead on arrival. It is a hotchpotch with zero direction.

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Vijay’s physical appearance as MMA fighter is bang on

Balamani (Ramya Krishna) and her son Liger (Vijay Devarakonda) move from Karimnagar to Mumbai. Balamani wants to make her son big in the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Balamani makes her life by selling tea. The father was also an MMA fighter who died some time back. Liger has the appearance of a hulk with stammering issues. His stammering is ridiculed at certain points in the film. Ronit Roy plays the tough coach. He has a connection with Liger’s father; Ronit Roy teaches Mixed Martial arts for free to Liger. Both the coach and the mother give a warning saying that girls are a distraction and Liger shouldn’t get distracted.

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This is the cue for Ananya Pandey’s super rich Tanya to come in. She is a social media celebrity with Hollywood aspirations. Tanya is impressed with Liger’s fighting skills and soon love happens. What follows is a cross pollination of genres that leaves your head scratching.

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Liger, the largest cat in the world

Liger’s only redeeming qualities are the performances of Vijay Devarakonda and Ramya Krishna.  Vijay gets the physical appearance of an MMA fighter bang on, it is quite clear that the actor has worked on his physicality. He also pulls off the stammering part pretty well; to the credit of Puri Jagnaath the stammering aspect does bring a new dimension in the initial portions. Ramya Krishna also does justice to her part as a feisty mother with big dreams for her son. Sure Balamani comes across as screechy on more than one occasion but the fault here lies with the director and the writers. The mother and son bits are the only scenes where audiences feel some kind of emotion.

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Vijya Devarakonda, the poster that shook the nation

The biggest issue with Liger is the lack of clarity on the part of the director; even the weakest Puri Jagnaath films had more cohesiveness than this one. The initial part of the film gives you an idea that it is going to be a mother and son story with the backdrop of MMA. But soon the love story takes way too much attention than needed.

Ramya Krishna justifies her part as a feisty mother and Vijay Devarakonda

Man woman relationships in Puri Jagnaadh’s universe have never had any political correctness but here the director takes it to a whole new level. Tanya falling in love after seeing Liger’s fight is the most clichéd thing you will ever see. Her flirting with Liger is more cringe worthy than fun. Right through the first half she is depicted as Menaka who is going to sabotage Liger’s ambitions. These are just some of the clichés that the director piles upon on. In the second half there is a forced attempt at patriotism with a chaiwalla representing India on the stage of mixed martial arts. There is zero creativity in the way the scenes involving the mixed martial arts have been shot.

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The love story makes reappearance in the last twenty minutes where the twist about why Tanya dumped Liger is revealed. This leads to the most bizarre special appearance that you will ever see in the climax. You just wonder what Mike Tyson saw in his part to accept this drivel.

Ramya krishna, Vijay Devarakonda, Ananya. On quite a lot of occasions the cameraman focuses on her midriff. It is sad to see the actress in role like this after a fairly decent part in Shakun Batra’s Gehrayiyaan

The songs and their picturisations give another major headache. The abrupt placements also don’t help. Vijay and Ananya have zero sizzle in spite of the way Ananya is presented. On quite a lot of occasions the cameraman focuses on her midriff. It is sad to see the actress in a role like this after a fairly decent part in Shakun Batra’s Gehrayiyaan.

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None of the supporting actors register a strong impact. Ronit Roy is suitably dapper but he is mostly reduced to giving speeches and giving serious glares. Senior actor Ali is thoroughly wasted in an inconsequential role. You wonder what made Ali do a role like this.

Final word: It is high time that the makers think of what they are making in the name of pan India cinema, because this isn’t pan India.

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Prabhatha Rigobertha
Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.

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