Ganapath Review: Tiger Shroff Bulldozes His Way Through The Rubble

Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon in a still from the film. (courtesy: YouTube)

An action film that yo-yos between many conflicting poles, Ganapath – A Hero is Born, is a massive heap of cliches. It swings between the supposedly futuristic and the messily medieval, between Mad Mad terrain and Warrior territory, and between Shamshera and Brahmastra without hitting any highs.

What it adds up to is an exercise that aspires to be the kick-off for a super-fighter franchise but lacks the wherewithal and firepower to go the distance.  

Written and directed by Vikas Bahl, Ganapath goes one way and then another, pretty much like the eponymous protagonist, who fights for his life in a kickboxing arena with as much enthusiasm and nimbleness as he demonstrates on the dance floor of the “Dirty People Club”, his night spot of choice.

Tiger Shroff isn’t Tom Hardy. And he certainly isn’t Mel Gibson. But he brings a whole lot of energy to bear upon the persona of a divinely ordained superhero who requires one whole half of the 135-minute to find his metier.

When he does begin to land on his feet, he thrives on pulling the wool on the eyes of both the desperate people who need him to stand up for them and those that exploit him for their own benefit. The ‘spectacle’ that his games yield is as exciting as watching grass grow.

It is another matter that in the futuristic, dystopian world in which Ganapath is set, no grass actually grows. It is trampled upon by obnoxious men who are out to knock each other cold. If there is anything at all that the film manages to convey, it is a heightened idea of what lies in store for humankind if toxic masculinity is allowed a free rein.

Not that the screenwriter is remotely interested in debunking violence as the sole solution for what is wrong with the world. It does not so much as recognize that what it peddles as a tool of liberation is at the root of all the misfortunes that the dispossessed have to contend with.      

On one hand is a city that reimagines a Hong Kong-like skyline from a half a century in the future. It is called Silver City, a hi-tech megalopolis inhabited by the rich and powerful. On the other is a city in ruins – gareebon ki bustee, the hero calls it – where exceedingly impoverished men, women and children struggle for water and food (they are both bhookha (hungry) and pyaasa (thirsty), a narrator points out pretty early on) as they await the advent of a promised saviour.

The hackneyed rich-versus-poor thriller revolves around a reluctant fighter who transforms himself into a one-man army in the blink of an eye and then does several coolly calculated flip-flops before fulfilling a grand prophecy made by his sage-like grandfather.

The grandfather, Dalapati, played by Amitabh Bachchan (in a special appearance in which only his voice is recognisable), pops up now and then to remind the audience of the drifter-hero’s larger purpose in life. The young man, Guddu-turned-Ganapath (Tiger Shroff), has no inkling of what destiny has in store for him.

Guddu loves nothing more than singing, dancing and womanizing. Ganapath is the sort of movie in which women are mere props. The hero makes a living by head-hunting for bare-knuckle fights organized by a voiceless John the Englishman (Palestinian actor Ziad Bakri), who uses a chip on the nape of his neck to speak, and his wicked crime syndicate.

John isn’t the boss of the evil empire. Dalini, who lurks in the shadows, is. The latter’s identity isn’t revealed until the final sequence of the film. His appearance – he is an invincible, near-robotic figure – sets the stage for Part 2 of a rather lukewarm film.

Ganapath is immortal, a force of nature who not only survives a burial but comes out of the ordeal infinitely stronger and more determined. It, however, takes Jassi (Kriti Sanon), herself no mean fighter, to show him the right path.

When the hero first meets the lady, it is in a Chinese eatery where it is he who needs rescuing from the bad guys. But soon enough, Jassi becomes a mere spectator in a male-dominated slugfest in which Guddu and Ganapath, the two facets of the hero, fight with each other for the upper hand.

There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with all the direct and indirect religious iconography that Ganapath projects, but deep in the film’s core is an undisguised hatred for anybody who exists outside the what it would have us believe is the civilizational mainstream.

The bad guy here is John. Among the men that Guddu/Ganapath fights are not only Chinese – they have a go at him not once but twice, with a poster of Bruce Lee looking on in silence – but also of other nationalities. There is also a ferocious kidnapper-mercenary in the pack who is called Tabahi (meaning destruction) and is played by French MMA fighter and actor Jess Liaudin.

However, among the people who are on the righteous protagonist’s side is the indestructible Shiva (Rashin Rahman), who like Shiva the Destroyer, lives on a mountain (arid and dusty, not snow-covered). He is blind but can see everything.

Ganapath holds the balance between the mute John the Englishman – he is malevolence personified – and the sightless Shiva – an embodiment of wisdom and benignity – as he dithers with intent between the two moral ends. The simplistic narrative methods might have served their purpose had the writing not been as rudimentary.

Tiger Shroff throws all he has into the concoction, which is just as well. The second part of Ganapath  promises “more” of him. He bulldozes his way through the rubble. Kriti Sanon starts off with a bang and ends with a whimper for no fault of her own. Ziad Bakri, who is from Palestine’s best-known family of actors, rises above the mess. So does Rashin Rahman.

The only one who comes out unscathed from Ganapath is director of photography Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti. The film’s visual palette is inconsistent – it blurs the line between the past and the future and is unable to draw a clear line to separate the two – but the cinematographer is at the top of his game.

 All the flourishes notwithstanding, Ganapath is painfully pea-brained pulp that makes a meal of a terribly thin storyline. It struggles to shore itself up with the aid of utterly vacuous, glaringly hackneyed means that are never in with a chance to get the job done.    


Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon, Amitabh Bachchan, Elli Avrram


Vikas Bahl

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EXCLUSIVE: Vikas Bahl reveals, “While prepping for Ganapath, I used to see making videos of S S Rajamouli and Sukumar’s films” also says, “I hope we can crack the story of Queen 2” : Bollywood News – Bollywood Hungama

Ganapath – A Hero Is Born, starring Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon and Amitabh Bachchan, is all set to release in cinemas tomorrow, that is, October 20. Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke to director Vikas Bahl about the film and a lot more.

EXCLUSIVE: Vikas Bahl reveals, “While prepping for Ganapath, I used to see making videos of S S Rajamouli and Sukumar’s films” also says, “I hope we can crack the story of Queen 2”

Since the time you debuted as a director, you have never repeated a genre. How do you manage to do so? Not many filmmakers could achieve this feat…
Maybe, I just like different kinds of stories. While doing so, you have to break the genre. I think it’s a constant learning curve. When you are switching genres, you are always nervous as to whether or not you can pull it off. I like that nervousness. Maybe, the student inside me wants to constantly keep learning how to try new genres. When I was doing this film or even the next one (a horror), I used to sit for hours on YouTube and watch videos on how these films are made and how these genres are done. So, it was almost like going back to school. That’s exciting for me. I don’t want to get into a comfort zone that ‘this is my genre, this is what I want to do for the next 10-15 years.’ I’d rather try new things.

How difficult was it to get the futuristic element right, especially for a Hindi film considering that we don’t have many reference points in our cinema?
More than just about the future, I was trying to pen a story that any calamity in the world leads to inequality in the sense that the rich get richer as they benefit from it. But the poor get poorer. This happens during any catastrophe, whether man-made or a natural disaster. This is the basic premise of the film. Since it is based on the hypothetical situation of the next biggest calamity that happens on the planet, I had to set it in the future because it couldn’t happen earlier. Hence, the idea was not just to make a futuristic story.

Years ago, Shekhar Kapur attempted a film called Paani. It was also set in the future and was about the water crisis. Were you inspired by its plot maybe at the back of your mind?
Shekhar sir is too senior and I think too brilliant (smiles). I don’t know much about Paani. I know about it just as anybody else knows. But I am sure he would have made an unbelievable spectacle. Even if I am remotely close to what we set out to do, I think I’d be good!

You became a force to reckon with, with Queen (2014). The same year, Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon debuted with Heropanti (2014) and became overnight stars. How was it to collaborate with two fellow artists for whom 2014 was also a defining year?
Now that you told me and I realize it, it feels good (laughs)! I don’t think any of us thought about it. We never sat and discussed this connection.

Tiger Shroff is not seen doing typical action in the film. Kriti Sanon, meanwhile, is attempting action for the first time. How exciting was it for you and them as well?
Yes. The good thing about Ganapath and hopefully it’ll also be a surprise for the audience is that Tiger is just not doing action in the film. He has done a lot of humourous, emotional and dramatic scenes. He has a big character arc. Action is the base of it but is not the primary characteristic. I always found him very innocent. He has his own little world of action, exercises and workouts. I loved that innocence. I wanted him for his innocence as much as I wanted him for his action. Even though I had never worked with him or even met him before, I was correct about how he is.

As for Kriti, she’s a great actor. She has a lot of action in the film and has done a great job. She has this ability that she can pierce through your eyes and deliver the dialogue. She’s also tall and looks absolutely convincing while taking on the goons.

EXCLUSIVE: Vikas Bahl reveals, “While prepping for Ganapath, I used to see making videos of S S Rajamouli and Sukumar’s films” also says, “I hope we can crack the story of Queen 2”

You worked with Amitabh Bachchan, first in Goodbye (2022) and now Ganapath. It must have been a high, wasn’t it?
Everyday, he walks on the set, you have to pinch yourself that he knows me and he knows my name, forget the fact that he’s in my film. He was extremely generous. He knew I was trying to put up a film like Ganapath together. He knew it was ambitious. He saw the art and mood boards and told me, ‘Vikas, if I can help you make this film in any way, tell me’. I pounced on the opportunity and told him, ‘Sir, ek role karenge mere liye’! He did it purely out of love. He said, ‘Anything for you. Just go and make this film’.

The film’s post-production took a year. There are a lot of green-screen shots. And this is your most VFX-heavy film. Please tell us about your experience…
It has been a phenomenal learning experience when it comes to VFX. I just hope that everyone supports this fact. When you are doing it for the first time, you are just learning. You are not a master at the craft. I remember for days, I used to see making videos of S S Rajamouli’s films. I used to understand how he used to use the green screen and used to check out the ‘before VFX’ and ‘after VFX’ shots. I also used to watch Sukumar sir’s making videos. It’s almost like a tutorial put up on YouTube. By now, the fear of VFX has gone away. Now we can write stories without any boundaries. You can imagine anything and you can pull it off on the screen.

Earlier, Ganapath – A Hero Is Born was called Ganapath – Part 1. Is a sequel in the pipeline?
It’s still part 1. We just decided to call it ‘A Hero Is Born’. There’s the intention of doing a sequel. We hope it’s received well and people love it because this is the start of the journey of the protagonist.

Will the sequel be called Ganapath – A Hero Rules?
After you watch the film, why don’t you send me the title of the sequel? (laughs)

This is the age of sequels. Would you like to make a sequel to Queen? We would love to know what happened to Rani (Kangana Ranaut) and what she’s doing 10 years after the events of the first film…
Queen 2 is always a very tempting option. But the temptation should be that we find a great story to tell and not just exploit the commercial benefit out of it. I really hope we crack the story for the sequel so that I can make Queen 2. I would love to do that.

Also Read: Ganapath: A Hero Is Born director Vikas Bahl praises Kriti Sanon, Tiger Shroff and Rehman for shooting action sequence in Ladakh under harsh conditions

More Pages: Ganapath – A Hero Is Born Box Office Collection , Ganapath – A Hero Is Born Movie Review


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