Mumbai, 20 Nov 2018 10:00 IST
Academy award-winning director Danis Tanovic's take on a medical representative's crusade against a food giant is average despite an impactful story.
There will always be the question of how a Bosnian filmmaker — an Oscar winner, no less — chooses a very Hindi soundtrack to add to his film that revolves around medical negligence. It is one of the aspects that mark out the specific alteration of content to fit the audience.
Yet, the film does not falter because of it. Like in the case of Swiss food and drink giant Nestlé, it is the dilution of the content that makes Tigers feel feeble.
Danis Tanovic's story revolves around Ayan (Emraan Hashmi), a newly married and ambitious medical representative marketing the biggest international food brand, Lastavita. As he bribes and cajoles doctors to sell his products to naive customers in third-world Pakistan, he is ignorant of the consequences of the product.
It is only when close friend Dr Faiz (Satyadeep Mishra) returns to illuminate him about the dangerous effects of Lastavita products when mixed with unclean water and fed to infants that Ayan decides to do something.
As a consequence of the battle, he loses his home and his reputation and his family is hounded. It is here that the most devastating effect of the story lies.
Hashmi delivers a controlled performance as the naive but stubborn salesman who decides to take up the crusade. The actor tones down his hysterics to bring realism to his character.
Tanovic uses the guise of documentary filmmakers (Danny Huston and Khaleel Abdallah) wanting to make a film to dig into the premise. At one point, the director slyly mentions Nestlé, the original company on whom the lawsuit was filed, before changing the name to Lasta — citing a defamation risk. It is an impressive strategy.
Hashmi is ably supported by decent performances by Satyadeep Mishra and Vinod Nagpal. Adil Hussain plays the ruthless Bilal, who oversees Ayan's sales team and turns on him. Geetanjali Thapa is cast in the role of Ayan's wife and has little to do in the film. Sadly, these characters remain in the background as the battle is restricted to Ayan and the international corporation.
Tanovic blends in real footage of infants dying of diarrhoea in Pakistani hospitals, part of newsreels, and radio interviews of Nestlé officials denying liability as evidence to the story. It does have the deserved impact.
The filmmaker also avoids tapping into the poverty market, by focusing the premise on the ambition and greed of people which often drives such corruption and negligence.
However, as a film, the screenplay lacks the conviction that could have taken it further. Perhaps it is an Indian reviewer's penchant for drama that demands more, but the protagonist's shift from ambitious salesman to crusader seems unconvincing.
Regardless, the film has enough in it to make for interesting viewing. It is based in the real-life story of Syed Amir Raza Hussain, who fought Nestlé for its negligence.
The fact that Nestlé continues to rule the markets in third world countries while the crusade is forgotten is proof of the need for more such films.
Tigers is set to be released on ZEE5's digital platform on 21 November.
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