Liger (2022): The Crossbreed

“Neither a LION, nor a TIGER; I’m a mix, they call me LIGER!” Introducing South India’s action star Vijay Deverakonda and the legendary heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, the Pan-India MMA action-drama Liger written, co-produced, and directed by Puri Jagannadh hits worldwide on August 25, 2022.

Introducing THE VIJAY DEVERAKONDA!

Liger (2022) Official Trailer (Hindi):

Liger (2022) Synopsis:

Sashwath Agarwal also know as “Liger” (Vijay Deverakonda) is a poor young man who helps his old mother (Ramya Krishnan) at her tea stall in Mumbai. His mother has one dream for her beloved son. That is to make him a champion UFC fighter! One day as she was selling tea at her stall, some goons arrived to rob her. When she resisted, they started harassing her.

Then enters Liger, and he bashes up the goons right and left. Following this, his mother took him to train as a fighter under a popular MMA coach (Ronit Roy). Now as all Bollywood stories go, there has to be romance between the hero and the heroine. So Liger falls in love with a social media sensation named Tanya (Ananya Panday). But as he suffers from speech disability and stammers a lot, Tanya rejected him.

Vijay Deverakonda’s Intro As LIGER!

Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday in a romantic track from Liger

But one day, as Tanya was surrounded by some goons who were intending to molest her, Liger jumped in to save her. He fought all the goons single-handedly, and demolished them. Tanya got impressed by his bravery and fighting skills, and fell in love with him.

But Tanya had an over-protective brother who happened to be a champion MMA fighter. The rest of the movie shows Liger’s confrontation with Tanya’s violent brother on the streets as well as in the UFC arena. The film also shows how hard Liger trained in order to qualify for the UFC tournament, and confront and defeat Tanya’s MMA champion brother.

But Tanya’s brother is not the real villain in this story. The twist comes at the end when Tanya gets kidnapped by a cowboy henchman named Mark Henderson (Mike Tyson). Now it was up to Liger to save Tanya from Mark Henderson. Get ready for the historic one-on-one street fight in the end. It’s THE VIJAY DEVERAKONDA versus THE LEGENDARY MIKE TYSON!

Introducing THE LEGENDARY MIKE TYSON!

The Good:

Raw Action Top To Bottom!

A still from Liger: Liger fighting the goons

The story, screenplay, and direction; everything in Liger is the brainchild of Puri Jagannadh. With Liger, Jagannadh has proved himself to be an ultimate action-drama director Pan-India! The story and screenplay in Liger has been designed such that there are countless number of raw action fights, be it street fights with goons or UFC arena action. Vijay Deverakonda has been shown taking on countless number of people all at the same time. Goonery, bones breaking, neck cracking, raw MMA action; you will witness all these in this intense sports drama. In short, the plot of Liger finds a reason every time for the hero to pick up random fights.

The MMA action consumes only thirty percent of Liger. The major portion of this film focuses on Liger’s life, and endeavors to become a MMA champion. And not just fist fights, but you will experience romance to the brim as well. Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday share a great onscreen chemistry in Liger. Wait, I meant “great onscreen chemistry” but not great acting!

Precision Camerawork And Appreciable Editing

Vishnu Sarma’s precision camerawork did wonders to this intense MMA action-drama. The action sequences were captured keeping the minutest details in mind. The camerawork in Liger had a major contribution in instilling an essence of excitement in the minds of the audiences with wide-angled shots of the UFC arena. Overall, the viewing experience was pleasant but not top-class with scenes and backgrounds showcasing the sub-urban Mumbai.

Liger with his mother (Ramya Krishnan)

The editing by Junaid Siddiqui in Liger was appreciable. The scenes were placed sequentially as they occurred within the story. However, the story fluctuated too much with irrelevant romantic and cheesy scenes, and I believe the editor might have had a tough time sorting out such scenes to make the story much more relevant and appealing to the audiences.

Inspiring Dialogues But…

Liger has some inspirational dialogues for Indians. This action-drama is about representing India in the international UFC arena, which Liger does. The Hindi versions of the dialogues have been written by Prashant Pandey and the original Telugu ones by Puri Jagannadh himself.

One funny yet inspiring dialogue from the movie in Hindi goes, “We Are Indians…Jaenge, Ladenge…Aag Hain Ander… Duniya Ko Aag Laga Denge…Sabki WAAT LAGA DENGE!” which means, “We Are Indians. We will go and fight. We have a fire burning inside us. We will set the world on fire, and mess up everyone!” Even if some of the dialogues are amazing, but look who narrated them! It’s Vijay Deverakonda in his stammering Liger character. His stammering throughout the movie did diminish the impact of these powerful dialogues.

Vijay Deverakonda: “WAAT LAGA DENGE!”

The Bad:

The Same Old Story!

The story of Liger is similar to that of old-fashioned Bollywood action-dramas of the 1990s. A young man falls in love with a woman who happens to have an overprotective and violent brother. Ultimately, the hero will fight with the woman’s brother to win her. I have come across this plot a thousand times during my lifetime in uncountable number of Bollywood films.

A still from Liger: Liger competing in the UFC tournament

This story has been designed keeping the mentality of Indians in mind. Indian brothers tend to be very overprotective about their younger sisters. If you are a young man looking for finding love and tend to fall for a woman who has an elder brother, it may prove to be injurious for your health! This actually happens in India. This is no exaggeration.

Here Liger goes on to fight the UFC title against Tanya’s brother who happens to be a top-class MMA fighter. He defeats her brother in the match, and wins her over.

Mike Tyson’s Extended Cameo Appearance: A Movie Made Without A Climax!

A great twisted story indeed! Here you will see Vijay Deverakonda taking on his girlfriend’s brother in an MMA match. But the twist comes in the end in the form of Mike Tyson! Mike Tyson only had an extended cameo appearance at the end of the movie. The ending scene shows Mark Henderson’s (Mike Tyson) street fight with Liger (Vijay Deverakonda). Tyson is the real villain of this story but he got a small screen time. He is the cowboy mafia leader who has kidnapped Tanya (Ananya Panday). Tanya’s big shot father (Chunky Panday), who also happens to be her real life father, lives in Dubai and has failed to repay the loan he had taken from Henderson. That’s the reason Henderson kidnapped Tanya.

A scene from Liger: Liger (Left) Versus Tanya’s brother (Right)

The ending shows Vijay Deverakonda fighting with Mike Tyson for a long duration until he pins Tyson down after getting badly bashed up. Upon watching this “comedy fight” you will probably go crazy, and may punch the person sitting opposite to you out of frustration. You may possibly wonder; where is the climax? The climax has been left for the audiences to formulate in their minds! However, I think things might have taken a turn for the good as after the fight Mike Tyson and Vijay Deverakonda embraced each other and took selfies. Liger did bring Tanya back, but what’s next?

You will be amazed to learn that it was in fact Tanya who initiated the fight between Liger and Mark Henderson as both spoke different languages. When Liger requested Mark Henderson to release Tanya, she purposefully mistranslated it to Mark in English and told him that Liger wanted to fight him in order to get her released!

Aaa…Aaa…Aaa..Aaa…Acting???

What acting Vijay Deverakonda could have possibly done in this film? He stammers for the entire movie’s duration! He is portrayed as a speech-disabled guy who finds it difficult to communicate. As a result of this, he may have performed top-class action throughout the movie but has seriously failed to impress the audiences with his acting. Actually this is not his fault. The stammering character of Liger, which has been developed by Jagannadh, didn’t suit Deverakonda’s personality. But I must say, Deverakonda’s Liger character does have a comical essence, and will make you laugh at certain instances.

A still from Liger: Liger after winning the UFC title

Ronit Roy who plays Liger’s coach is the fitness icon of Bollywood. He has played the roles of coaches and fitness instructors in many films. In Liger too he has presented and carried himself as a sincere MMA coach pretty well. Ramya Krishnan plays Liger’s tea-seller mother, and she appears very loud in her role. She played Baahubali’s mother in the Baahubali film series, and I think she hasn’t been able to come out of her loud and fierce character of Baahubali’s mother since then. Ananya Panday who plays a social media sensation has done everything in this movie other than acting. Her performance is worse than her real-life father Chunky Panday’s performance, who plays her reel-life father in this movie. The guy who played Tanya’s brother is not a very popular figure. I don’t even know what his real name is!

Mike Tyson is an intimidating personality, mostly for many. I thought Liger would be some kind of phenomenal action-drama with a fierce boxing champion like Mike Tyson being involved. However, I was extremely disappointed after seeing that this legendary boxer just got a cameo appearance as a cowboy kidnapper at the end of this film and even worse, got pinned down by an amateur like Vijay Deverakonda!

The Track: COKA 2.0!

The Verdict:

It seems that Indians have the least idea of what a liger actually is. Liger may be a crossbreed of a lion and tiger but it is an extremely lethargic giant cat which is not at all ferocious, and can even be tamed. I have no idea why Puri Jagannadh decided to name this movie as “Liger”. May be he wanted to convey that the young man named “Liger” had the qualities of both a lion and a tiger, and thus was invincible. But his idea miserably backfired as this name actually made no sense!

Mike Tyson as the villain Mark Henderson in an extended cameo appearance in Liger

I feel that the more apt title for this movie should be “Anaconda- Part 6” rather than “Liger”! You Anaconda fans might be highly anticipating another sequel post the 2015 release “Lake Placid vs. Anaconda”, which is actually “Anaconda- Part 5”. It’s been years since another sequel is yet to release. Then why not watch Vijay Deverakonda instead of Anaconda? In this movie you will witness a crazy and stammering Anaconda crossbreed performing hand-to-hand combat action stunts and even pinning down a world-class heavyweight boxer like Mike Tyson! It will be a really exciting and thrilling experience, trust me!

Jokes apart, but I must agree to the fact that Vijay Deverakonda did train rigorously for this movie. He dramatically transformed his physique to step into the shoes of a professional UFC fighter. Reports reveal that he even went to Thailand to pursue martial arts training for several months. Initially, Janhvi Kapoor was supposed to be cast opposite Deverakonda in this film. Bollywood media reports reveal that Janhvi Kapoor has a serious crush on Deverakonda, and it was her desire to work in a film with him. However at the end moment, because of her film shooting date issues, she could not participate in this film. This is how Ananya Panday got the role of Tanya, Liger’s love-interest.

In an interview, Vijay Deverakonda revealed how difficult it was for him to shoot the sequences with Mike Tyson as Tyson was abusing him right and left most of the time behind the scenes. But he further said that all the abuses made by Tyson to him were jokes, and they enjoyed their time during the shoot. The filming for Liger commenced for three years as the shooting schedules mostly got delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The story of Liger has been stretched a lot, and covers a duration of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Extensive scenes detail how Vijay Deverakonda got the name “Liger” in this movie, and also Liger’s romantic relationship with Tanya. The film has been simultaneously shot in Hindi and Telugu languages but is available dubbed in Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada as well.

Some of the tracks in this movie are energetic and aggressive. Check out the tracks “The Liger Hunt Theme” and “Attack” by singer Farhad Bhindiwala, and you are sure to feel the rumble! There are some more energetic tracks in the movie like “Waat Laga Denge” by Vijay Deverakonda himself and “Coka 2.0” which will make you dance with their rhythmic beats!

To be honest, I am highly disappointed upon watching Liger as I had a lot of expectations from this movie. The way this movie’s promotions were done and the whopping gross budget of INR 160 Crores to make it made me initially think that this is going to be some kind of phenomenal action blockbuster involving superstar Vijay Deverakonda and Mike Tyson. But now I feel that certain things can never be predicted as this “supposed to be” phenomenal blast failed miserably at the box office.

Overall, Liger is a romantic sports action-drama which lives up to its name! What I exactly mean is that this story is as nonsensical as the “ferocious liger”. The trend of boycotting Bollywood is at large nowadays. I now feel that I cannot blame the audiences for boycotting Bollywood. When you make movies as mindless as this one, this trend is bound to continue.

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Liger (2022): The Crossbreed
  • Acting - 3/10
    3/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 6/10
    6/10
  • Watchability - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 3.5/10
    3.5/10
Overall
5.5/10
5.5/10
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Summary

“Neither a LION, nor a TIGER; I’m a mix, they call me LIGER!” Introducing South India’s action star Vijay Deverakonda and the legendary heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, the Pan-India MMA action-drama Liger written, co-produced, and directed by Puri Jagannadh hits worldwide on August 25, 2022.

About Subhadeep Kumar Ganguli

Meta film critic. Never make the same mistake twice. Make it three or four times just to be sure 😉

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