Roar review: Shorbonash! Kamal Sadanah's film on man-eaters may turn tigers suicidal

Confession time. I like bad movies — unintentionally bad movies, especially so. However, a viewing of Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans has left me suspicious of debutant director Kamal Sadanah’s motives. Nobody can turn out a film this terrible without being aware of it.

Nandan Kini October 31, 2014 12:02:19 IST
Roar review: Shorbonash! Kamal Sadanah's film on man-eaters may turn tigers suicidal

Confession time. I like bad movies — unintentionally bad movies, especially so. However, a viewing of Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans has left me suspicious of debutant director Kamal Sadanah’s motives. Nobody can turn out a film this terrible without being aware of it.

Purportedly about the Royal Bengal tigers of the Sundarbans, at the India-Bangladesh borders, Roar is about the human-animal conflict in the area and deals with it in the daftest possible way. When a needlessly overenthusiastic photographer rescues a little white tiger cub, the tigress mother tracks him down and goes for the kill. Enter Mr.Photographer’s big brother, Mr.Commando, who lands in the village at a moment’s notice at the end of a short boat ride that might as well have been shot at the Versova-Madh jetty.

Roar review Shorbonash Kamal Sadanahs film on maneaters may turn tigers suicidal

Courtesy: Youtube

Resolving to avenge his animal-loving brother’s death, Mr.Commando, who is clearly loopy in the head, forms the most moronic plan possible. He will go into the Sundarbans to track and kill this rare white tigress, who was obviously just defending her child and turf. Given the dangers that lie ahead on the mission, he recruits five of his most imbecilic commando buddies, who, once again, arrive in the most inaccessible parts of the Sundarbans in a single flash. They're also armed to the teeth with the most advanced weaponry imaginable. Seriously, these idiots come in with enough gear and ammo to take down an entire army. You’d imagine they’d get shot down by security forces just for trying to infiltrate the border with a terrorist’s cache of weapons.

Apparently, logic has been poached to extinction in this forest, so with the aid of a tracker who is also similarly deranged -- she meets the group by swimming suspiciously onto their boat through croc-infested waters -- the group manages to make it through, only to be hunted down one at a time by the eponymous tigers of the Sundarbans. This isn’t because the tigers are especially adept hunters, but because these commandos’ sole mission is to be as indiscreet as possible in the most dangerous of conditions. No wonder these witless hunters quickly become the hunted.

Nothing in this film makes sense. Who are these commandos who can sweep in with every weapon short of a tank, but can’t even be depended upon to get functional jungle clothing? The cleavage-baring skin show from the women in the group especially — they're dressed like they’ve stepped out of a Tomb Raider video game — suggests the creepy-crawlies would kill them in a real jungle way before any man-eating tigers get to them.

The performances all of the virtually unknown actors of the film make you glad for the man-eating spree the tigers are on. These dumb beefcakes can’t die quickly enough.

There’s also the idiotic assistant who accompanies the group on the trip. His only purpose in life seems to be to speak in riddles and be as irritating as possible. The blockhead even comes into the forest carrying the scent of the tiger’s blood on his unwashed cotton towel, perhaps to make it easier for the big cat to seek the group out. He also keeps hinting at some sort of greater angle, screaming ‘Shorbonash, shorbonash!’ at first sight of the tiger, but refuses to elucidate on what he means. Even director Sadanah and writer-producer Abis Rizvi can’t get anything out of him, it seems.

There's also a female forest officer on the group’s trail, along with an aimlessly evil poacher. Both sub-plots are extremely half-baked, as is the hurried climax that concludes in the most predictable way possible. The out-of-the-blue epilogue is positive proof that the filmmaker lost every single clue he had about plot during the making of the film. Of course, since everything in Roar happens in random jump cuts, it’s entirely possible that Sadanah and Rizvi actually meant to make a sensible film before insanity took over on the editing table.

The only redeeming quality of the film is the finesse with which cinematographer Michael Watson has filmed the tigers themselves. Though rendered through a green screen and CGI, they look quite like the regal animals they are. Indeed, given how much smarter these tigers are than the humans of the film, it’s not surprising that you find yourself rooting for the animals against the men. One wishes the tigers had gone for director Sadanah, given the inane way he moves into some sort of “tiger vision” mode (red-tinted, if you please), every time these royal beasts come on screen.

Still, Watson does well to capture the tigers and the Sundarbans beautifully on camera. The sound design by Resul Pookuty is worth a mention as well, capturing the jungle setting quite perfectly.

In short, Roar is a terrible film, made with the best of technology and access available at Bollywood’s disposal. Director Kamal Sadanah obviously frittered away all sense and logic at the edit table. We can only hope the’ tigers don’t stalk their prey into any theatres. With so few of them left, a glimpse of Roar might just make them suicidal.

Nandan Kini is a documentary film researcher and journalist based in Mumbai. Also the national president of the Association of the Sartorially Challenged, he tweets at @bombilfry and has booked his face at Facebook.com/nandan.kini.

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