An MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) match is about to begin. The referee has announced the name of the fighter from India as the ‘Slumdog from the streets of Mumbai’ and the waving tricolour has evoked a sense of patriotism already. And then we see the hero running on the street of Las Vegas trying to save the woman of his life from a bunch of goons. Vijay Deverakonda has a line right in the beginning of the film — ‘Main kahaani sunane mein kamzor hoon, fir bhi try karunga’. I wish the makers of Liger heard this over and over again before making this film and I bet they’d have realised that it shouldn’t have been made. They’re no better than Vijay’s character in narrating the story, or wait, is there any story at all? Vijay’s acting chops, his good looks and chiselled body couldn’t salvage this assault on senses which was nothing short of an embarrassment. With a screenplay so juvenile, story without a head or a tail, direction limited to showing the hero’s moves in slo-mo, director Puri Jagannadh’s Liger is extremely flawed and below average for the hype it created. By the time first half is over, you genuinely start to feel bad for its lead actor, who God knows was in what frame of mind when he decided to make his Hindi-film debut with Liger. The film revolves around this young guy, Liger and his widowed mother Balamani (Ramya Krishnan), who have come from Telangana to Mumbai because she wants to see her son become a national MMA champion. Balamani roars for unexplained reasons. Or no, she mentions her late husband, Balram was a lion who died during a fight and she’s a tigress, hence, their son Liger is a crossbreed between Lion and Tiger. Funny? No, it isn’t TBH. Moving on, Liger manages to get under the wings of his MMA coach (Ronit Roy), who lays down the rules clearly and at the top it is staying focussed and away from girls. And then enters Tanya (Ananya Panday), who falls for Liger after seeing him thrashing 10 men. That’s it, that’s the story. And it doesn’t go anywhere from here. Liger is loud from the word go. Be it the characters, action in the ring or background music – it’s all screeching in your ears non-stop for 140 minutes. One thing that’s evident from the start is that Bollywood doesn’t seem to learn its mistakes. How many times has portraying characters with disabilities such as speech impairment put filmmakers into trouble and Liger is no different. It shamelessly ridicules it’s stuttering protagonist and it’s rather distasteful at times. For instance, when Vijay tries to say his name for the first time, if you don’t see him, you’d actually feel he’s trying to mimic Suniel Shetty. After a point, it started to seem as if the makers didn’t want Vijay to say many dialogues because his Hindi isn’t as fluent and clear. So much for a pan-India film. I mean, I really waited for one good scene where I’d watch him say a few lines without other characters interruptingn, but it never happens. In terms of performance, no matter how good Vijay looks in every frame and brings his best to the table, the poorly written script with even worse execution terribly fails him. Also, Vijay has had his share of troubles with Arjun Reddy that was tagged problematic and misogynist but Liger hasn’t really learnt a lesson there either. A scene when Liger holds Tanya by collar and then pushes her, or how a girl is unapologetically referred to as a ‘chudail’ only reek of sexism and deep-rooted problems in the mindset. They try to balance it by cleverly placing a reference to Kabir Singh and how men are egoistic and can’t take no from a girl. Talking of Vijay and Ananya’s chemistry, there’s none. They looked better together while promoting the film that they look on screen. While Vijay lovingly looks at her during the dance sequences, Ananya is only concerned about the camera and chemistry can RIP. For Ananya, I don’t know if she was told what she had to do in the film. Where was the acting? Was it overacting? Was she being herself? Was she trying to be cool? Or dumb? I don’t know. I’m confused. Maybe, she just needs to take some serious lessons in acting, so we know she knows the craft. In Liger, her track, scenes, her dialogues, the way they’re said – everything seems a joke to say the least. How can I not mention about the beautifully choreographed and elaborate song and dance sequences in Liger. Well, Ananya Panday’s outfit changes were the only fair justification to me why there were such pathetically misplaced songs that were thrown when the story didn’t seem to move anywhere. Something is happening in one scene and suddenly the actors break into a glamorous song and dance sequence. Ridiculous. Ramya Krishnan doesn’t seem to have come out of her Shivagami mode from Baahubali. She is roaring and yelling her lungs out in almost every scene. However, her scenes with Vijay are endearing and the mother-son story at the core could have added value to the narrative.