Who is the first Indian superhero on screen, kids? Here are a few options: Captain Vyom, Shaktimaan, Krrish or Flying Jatt. While the little mortals scratch their heads, we see a hand bobbing up and down in the crowd. That's Pahlaj Nihalani, the not-so-young censor board chief. An Indian superhero has to be sanskari, and so, he votes for Flying Jatt. Chronology, be damned!
With the last film about Punjab and Punjabis falling foul of the scissor-happy chief, choreographer-turned-scriptwriter-turned-director Remo D'Souza seems to have taken extra care not to rub Nihalini the wrong way (Remo said he had the script ready even before he made his directorial debut in 2011, but still...) with A Flying Jatt. So, we have the superhero draped in the Khalsa colours of blue and golden yellow, with the Khanda or the Khalsa crest blazing on the costume sewn by his mother, and the pagri, which comes later. He salutes the dharti and maa in a slightly-modified superhero pose, greets his elders with 'sat sri akal', buys lauki from the market (Rs 70 for two... inflation is one the few realities in the film), stops at red light on the road... sniff. One cannot blame Nihalani if he had tears in his eyes after watching it.
And one cannot blame the audience, too, if they had tears in their eyes after sitting through message of environment conservation masquerading as a film. Aman (Tiger Shroff) is a martial arts teacher at a school and, as the name suggests, is a peace-loving and innocent wax figure... oops... young man. He lives in a colony named after his father, who was the first Sikh to train at the Shaolin school of martial arts, with his brother Rohit (a likeable Gaurav Pandey) and his loud and fearless mother (Amrita Singh), who loves her Patiala peg. Stereotypes and cliches, sigh.
Enter the corporate 'villain' Malhotra (Kay Kay Menon) in squeaky clean shoes, cigar and outlandish ties, followed by the growling real villain, Raka (former WWE man Nathan Jones), with the tattoo of a snake on his neck in case you missed the name (Chacha Chaudhary, remember?) and the growls. And they are after the land where the colony and a sacred tree stand to build a bridge to their venom-spewing factory. More stereotypes and cliches. Aman gets his powers in a twist of fate, and so does Raka, and the fight between good and evil begins, to save the city from pollution and, in turn, Raka.
The film is inspirational. In the sense that it is heavily 'inspired' from other Hollywood and Bollywood superhero films. So, we have our desi superhero who can fly and hear voices of those in distress (a la Superman and Daredevil), can sense danger (Spidey sense) and can slow down time (a direct rip-off of the Quicksilver scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past), and the villain Raka, who can levitate (like Magneto of X-Men fame) and can fly, too. The only difference? This Jatt dances like a dream and shakes his booty like no other Hollywood superhero does.
Speaking of booty, there's Kirti (Jacqueline Fernandez) whom Aman loves but is too shy to tell her (Peter Parker, ahoy!). The character is sketched so badly that it is only after the interval do we get to know that she, too, is a teacher at the same school. She enters the scene in between the first song, in a garish costume, squeals, squeaks, sighs, laughs and (she too) shakes her booty in the booty-licious song Beat pe Booty. Another waste of a character is the music teacher, Goldie.
While there are a few 'Jo Bole So Nihaal' moments and passable jokes in the film, it largely fails to retain its grip on the audience, thanks to some insipid screenplay, songs that stick out like a sore thumb and sub-standard set (the fake holy tree and the houses in the colony, to name a couple). Tiger is as earnest in his work as he can be—his cool moves (it seems his legs have minds of their own), action sequences and the disarming smile—but it cannot even save the preachy 150-minute long film, forget saving the environment.
Film: A Flying Jatt
Director: Remo D’Souza
Cast: Tiger Shroff, Jacqueline Fernandez, Nathan Jones, Kay Kay Menon, Amrita Singh