Vijay Deverakonda, starring in a cross between cringe and cliche, The New Indian Express

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When a movie like “Liger” just throws clichés at you with no real effort to make them work, all that’s left to do is try to see if you can at least have a laugh or two at the movie’s expense. I handled some. For one thing, the character is called Liger, because her mother, Balamani (Ramya Krishnan), is a self-proclaimed tiger and apparently her late husband, Liger’s father, was a lion (in the MMA arena). . Perhaps because she is inspired by a wild animal, she is shown to scream a lot, under the name of ferocity. Liger (Vijay Deverakonda) also roars, and here I mean actually hearing a tiger roar in the background. For that reason, I thought of director Hari many times in this film, especially when Liger opens his palm and punches a rival fighter on a train. “Ondra ton peso-u da!” I muttered to myself, in memory of a better template movie. Liger’s weird girlfriend Taniya (Ananya Panday) also roars, for some reason…maybe because she’s a future ligress?

“Liger”, the film, is about a mother and son who came to Mumbai with the ambition of achieving MMA glory. In theory, there is poverty, conflict, and the absence of a father figure, but these are never really explored in this film. There’s one more challenge in the mix: Liger’s speech disorder causing him to stutter, which this film only seems interested in cashing in on for humor. The MMA trainees around him make fun of his handicap in so many awkward ways that the movie goes through light moments. In fact, if they were trying to make fun of him, I think his name might have been a better topic to focus on. I wouldn’t have blamed Liger at all if he’d felt justified in grilling his mother about giving him a name that would probably mark him for life…a name based on a creature of which there are apparently 100 in the world. This is not information I googled for this review; the film shares this statistic at one point.

Interestingly, many characters in this movie, including Liger’s mother, don’t seem to have the patience or kindness to allow him to finish his sentences. Right at the beginning, someone insults him saying, “The video is good, but the audio is not.” Meanwhile, his girlfriend Taniya operates at the other extreme: she apparently finds him “cute,” in what appears to be a condescending way. In a love scene, she asks him to say his name, and when he stutters before finishing, she exclaims, “How cute!” like a zoo visitor watching an exotic animal make a strange noise.

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The trailer suggested that Liger’s mother, Balamani, might seem like a self-made feisty woman, but in this movie, her strength comes through only in the volume of her voice. There is no real focus on the person she is, apart from the generic traits that make up a ‘strong mother’. I’m not even sure she’s too nice, especially since she defines modern women as ‘deyyam’ (devil) and advises her son not to fall prey to them. Even as she’s giving out some forgettable advice, we see Taniya, who’s already gone from animosity to affection over the span of a single fight sequence, fall for Liger, seducing him by modestly sharing, “Every inch of me is perfect.” Every inch, except perhaps what constitutes her mental machinery, considering that she watches Liger excel at martial words and wonders if he is “Chinese.”

The movie is supposed to be about an underdog “fight” who wins big in Mixed Martial Arts, and yet we learn very little about the sport, with the fights played out like stunt sequences in your average mainstream movie. We learn nothing about Liger’s own strengths and weaknesses in the MMA arena, except to note that he has a tendency to flash the middle finger a lot and also draw attention to his crotch during fights. As I gave in and waited for my freedom, I sat back and watched Mike Tyson walk in out of nowhere. For some reason, he’s called Mark Anderson in this movie, and for some reason, he doesn’t want to let Liger’s girlfriend go free. He laughs as if he is intoxicated, and continues to lamely fight Liger as well. I’m not sure I could tell you what was going on, but I was a little comforted to see that Mr. Tyson seemed confused too. At one point, he even seemed to channel the same agony I was feeling. Quite relatable, he exclaims, “Who the hell are you and who the hell is your father? I can’t believe this shit.”

Director: Puri Jagannadh

To emit: Vijay Deverakonda, Ramya Krishnan, Ananya Panday

Classification: 1.5/5

(This story originally appeared on cineexpress.com)

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