Oscar winner Danis Tanovic (NO MAN’S LAND) brings a hard hitting and devastatingly impactful & challenging bold story of supreme courage in TIGERS.
The ferocious power, implacable arrogance, shameless chicanery of giant profit- and image-minded companies of the corporate world gets exposed in this highly topical and essential subject matter that concerns child nutrition and future.
Emraan Hashmi’s superbly assured performance filled with grit, powers this important cinema that questions the ethics of multinationals, the media in this story based on actual events featuring Emraan Hashmi as the pharmaceutical salesman in Pakistan who discovers his new company’s baby formula has killed hundreds of children.
Set in Pakistan, TIGERS is a story of Ayan (Emraan Hashmi) a salesman who struggles to sell the cheap medicines of the local Pakistani pharmaceutical company to doctors and medical experts while the ‘branded’ products are having their say. Underlining the phenomenon that gloss, fancy packaging and brand name attracts and people trust doctors blindly, the movie moves further with the happily married Ayan having a good life with his wife Zainab (Geetanjali Thapa) though not the best but a peaceful one. An opening in the multinational Lasta (name changed in the movie, though the actual name is said once in the beginning) changes the world of Ayan and his family.
Ayan grabs the job and with the support of his senior Bilal (Adil Hussain) learns the tricks to trap his customers (doctors) with lucrative gifts and offers. A good doctor or a popular doctor, the answer given by Bilal is the popular one who has sizeable patients and the one who can spread the ‘product’ further and beyond. The product is milk food for the infants. Ayan is having a gala time, the ‘tiger’ ( that’s the company word for their salesman) is on a roar. Keeping track of his target clients ( doctors, experts) right from their passion for music to cricket. In an escapist turn just to establish the bond, Danis Tanovic shows Ayan playing cricket with Dr. Faiz (Satyadeep Mishra). The bond of convenience gets established between Ayan and his doctor clients, nurse, etc, lured from chocolates to air conditioners etc. Life takes a conscious probing u- turn when Dr. Faiz returns from Karachi after gaining more knowledge on social medicine with disturbingly horrifying news. The product which Ayan is successfully selling to doctors who in turn passing it on to their patients, is allegedly responsible for babies dying from malnutrition, diarrhea and dehydration.
Mothers from the less privilege section mix with the formula (product) with water which is not hygienic enough resulting in infants dying. The shaken Ayan decides to quit the job and asks his company Lasta in a petition letter to withdraw its baby products from the market. How the common man Ayan fights the superpowers of the pharmaceutical/multinationals, favorable medical lobby and the system with support from World Health Organization and media to an extent is told in an engrossingly hard hitting manner.
There is stark realism in Danis Tanovic’s TIGERS, footage of real sick and dying infants shake you in bringing the point forward. Movies on Pharmaceutical/MNC greed like THE CONSTANT GARDENER, THE INSIDER, MICHAEL CLAYTON etc, have left a haunting impact and TIGERS is no way behind, if not the front runner. Writer director Danis Tanovic with his co writer Andy Patersonco introduces Ayan, on Skype from Toronto, Alex (Danny Huston) a tv producer wants to make a movie on Ayan and before beginning they want to get the legal nitty-gritty right, hear Ayan’s story from the beginning with a network lawyer, and a WHO representative (Maryam D’Abo). The chilling reality of Ayan’s story gets boiled down to the quest of survival of a common man battling against the powerful capitalism backed by the system. In a scene a senior army officer played by the veteran Benjamin Gilani who works as a mediator of peace between Ayan and Lasta says, “ You can fight with these giants, but will never win’.
Later the protagonist Ayan serves as the metaphor of a common man’s fight against capitalism – how hard it is to tell a simple truth when big business doesn’t want it to be told.
Emraan Hashmi in a career defining role excels as Ayan, the actor puts forward the innocence and grit of the salesman who refuses to let his good virtues and consciousness get sold at any cost. It’s sad that the movie for reasons is not getting a theatrical release and is available digitally on Zee 5 from November 21, 2018.
Geetanjali Thapa as Ayan’s wife who works as a pillar of support is solid. Valuable support comes from Danny Huston as Alex (excellent), Adil Hussain as Bilal (brilliant), Maryam d’Abo as Maggie (superb), Satyadeep Mishra as Dr. Faiz (amazing), Supriya Pathak as Ayan’s mother (very natural), Vinod Nagpal as Ayan’s father (wonderful).
Technicalities are well etched. Erol Zubcevic’s cinematography travels through the corridors of hospitals, corporate offices, the lanes and the shanty allies with finesse giving the movie its raw edge. Rachna Rastogi & K. K.Murlidharan’s production design is appropriate. Niharika Khan’s costumes are authentic. Prerna Saigal’s editing is fine. Pritam’s music movies with the flow.
On the flipside, the movie is not a standard escapist triumph of a hero winning over his enemies, those looking for an out and out entertainer may not get very excited.
But all said and done, TIGERS is a genuinely essential piece of cinema solid, thought provoking, driving the wedge between mind and gut so powerfully with the exceptional Emraan Hashmi in a career defining performance. Going with four stars for the subject matter and Emraan Hashmi.