Ek Tha Tiger Movie Review: Ek Tha Tiger (transl. Once There Was a Tiger) is a 2012 Indian Hindi-language action thriller directed and co-written by Kabir Khan. Produced by Aditya Chopra under Yash Raj Films, it is the inaugural film of the YRF Spy Universe. The film stars Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranvir Shorey, Roshan Seth, Girish Karnad, and Gavie Chahal. The plot centers on RAW agent Tiger (Khan), who is assigned to retrieve crucial information before it falls into Pakistani hands, but he becomes sidetracked after falling in love with Zoya Humaimi (Kaif).

Ek Tha Tiger marks the third collaboration between Kabir Khan and Yash Raj Films, following Kabul Express (2006) and New York (2009), and the first collaboration between Yash Raj Films and Salman Khan. It was also the last film presented by Yash Chopra before his passing. The production faced several challenges, including delays, rewrites, and changing cast members. Principal photography began in August 2011 and concluded in July 2012, with filming locations spanning Dublin, Havana, Bangkok, Istanbul, and Delhi. The music was primarily composed by Sohail Sen, with the lead single and theme song, “Mashallah,” composed by Sajid-Wajid. Initially slated for a June 2012 release, the film was released worldwide by Yash Raj Films on August 15, 2012.

Ek Tha Tiger received generally positive reviews from critics and set numerous box-office records, grossing ₹334.39 crore (US$62.58 million) worldwide. It was the highest-grossing Hindi film of 2012 and set a then-record for the highest-grossing domestic opening weekend, earning ₹57.9 crore (US$10.84 million). The film won Best Special Effects at the 14th IIFA Awards and garnered five People’s Choice Awards, including Best Film, Best Actor for Salman Khan, and Best Actress for Katrina Kaif. A sequel, Tiger Zinda Hai, was released on December 22, 2017, followed by a third film, Tiger 3, released on November 12, 2023.

Prime Video: Ek Tha Tiger


Avinash “Tiger” Singh Rathore, a RAW officer, is compelled to kill Rabinder, one of his operatives, who defects to Pakistan’s spy agency ISI while in Iraq. Frustrated by the persistent violence in his missions, Tiger’s superior, Shenoy, assigns him to a surveillance mission in Dublin. His target is Anwar Kidwai, an Indian scientist at Trinity College suspected of developing advanced anti-missile technology. Tiger’s handler, Gopi, accompanies him.

In Dublin, Tiger adopts the alias Manish Chandra, a non-fiction writer researching Kidwai and other Indian academics. To gain access to Kidwai’s residence, Tiger befriends Zoya Nazar Jung Humaimi, a British-Indian dance student at Trinity and Kidwai’s caretaker. As Tiger and Zoya grow closer, they fall in love, and she invites him to “My Son, Pinocchio,” a college play she choreographed and Kidwai sponsors.

A few days later, Tiger is attacked by an unknown assailant, raising fears that his cover is blown. Spotting the assailant again on the day of the play, Tiger chases him through Dublin, ultimately preventing a potential Luas train crash. During the play, Gopi alerts Tiger to suspicious activity at Kidwai’s house. There, Tiger discovers that Zoya is actually an ISI agent intent on stealing Kidwai’s research.

Zoya refuses to surrender the research or return to India with Tiger. After thwarting an attack by Feroz, the ISI agent and Tiger’s mysterious assailant, Tiger lets Zoya go. Back in India, Tiger requests a desk job but during analysis with his colleague, Bagga, they intercept a secret message from Pakistan. Tiger realizes the message is from Zoya, hinting at her presence at an upcoming UN meeting in Istanbul. Reuniting there, Tiger and Zoya decide to flee their respective agencies and escape to Havana after misleading their superiors to Astana.

In Havana, their identities are exposed following a mugging incident caught on video. They are tracked down by RAW and ISI, and after being spotted at a boxing match, they try to escape. Zoya is arrested by Cuban police and handed over to ISI. Tiger then approaches Gopi with a plan: Zoya will cooperate with RAW in exchange for her freedom. They intercept Zoya’s transport convoy, and Tiger and Zoya escape in a pre-arranged light aircraft, with Tiger sustaining a non-fatal gunshot wound from Gopi.

Later, Tiger calls Shenoy, stating they will return when the enmity between India and Pakistan no longer necessitates RAW and ISI. In the epilogue, Tiger and Zoya are reportedly sighted in Venice, Cape Town, Zurich, and London.


After Kabir Khan was announced as the director for a then-untitled action film, he approached Shah Rukh Khan with a draft of the screenplay. Although Shah Rukh Khan showed interest, he could not commit to the film due to scheduling conflicts with Don 2 (2011) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012). This led to the film’s screenplay, which had been completed in November 2010, undergoing several changes, even as late as February 2012.

In May 2011, reports confirmed that Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif would star in the film, now titled Ek Tha Tiger. This marked Salman Khan’s first collaboration with Yash Raj Films and his fourth film with Katrina Kaif, following Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005), Partner (2007), and Yuvvraaj (2008). To begin filming, Salman Khan had to postpone the development of Sher Khan, a project he was working on with his brother, Sohail Khan. Salman Khan was reportedly paid ₹32 crore (US$5.99 million) for his role in the film. Katrina Kaif, who had previously appeared in only one action film (Race, 2008), performed her own stunts for Ek Tha Tiger.

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