What Makes A Good Plot Twist | War vs Saaho

Let me start by saying that this article wasn't meant to be a comparison. In fact, it started as a simple "War Explained" article, meant to talk about the film's plot twist. However, after uploading our video review, we received quite a few people making the inevitable comparison to Saaho. So, we thought we might as well tackle that topic here. First, we're gonna break down some of the plot holes that we found in War and then in the second half of the article we will tackle the plot twist of Saaho. Then, finally, we'll look at what makes a plot twist good. Which should be pretty straightforward by the time we get there. Also, this shouldn't be a surprise, full spoilers ahead. Only continue reading once you have seen the movies. And if you're wondering whether you should watch the film or not in the first place, then click here, to read our full, non-spoiler, review. With that out of the way, let's break down War.

War is about Kabir (Hrithik Roshan), an Indian soldier who has gone rogue. The pressure is on for the Indian government to bring Kabir in before he causes more irreparable damage. This is where Khalid (Tiger Shroff), a former student and teammate of Kabir, is tasked with bringing him in. The film has a small first plot twist which is that Ilyasi, the big terrorist target of the movie, has gone through facial reconstruction surgery to change his appearance. The second plot twist, which is much bigger, is that the Khalid we have been watching for a majority of the movie is not the real Khalid.

While the main story of War is nothing new, the big plot twist in the last act of the film changes the context of what we've been watching for a majority of the movie. Early in the movie, there is a crucial mission that takes place where the good guys (Khalid, Kabir, and team) are trying to capture Ilyasi. During this mission, we find out that there is a traitor in the group who kills half the team before running away. Khalid runs after him and we find out later that he "killed the traitor". We find out during the climax that the traitor actually killed Khalid, went through facial reconstruction surgery himself to assume his identity, and joined the team again without suspicion.

For simplification, I will refer to them as real Khalid and fake Khalid from now on. At the end of the movie, we find out that Kabir figured out the fake Khalid was the traitor due to two reasons. One, earlier in the movie Kabir finds out that the real Khalid has a blind spot in his peripheral from getting assaulted as a kid. Fast forward to the farmhouse scene where fake Khalid sees movement from an attack coming from the right side. The blind spot was a fact that only Kabir and the real Khalid knew, so fake Khalid couldn't prepare for it. Second, fake Khalid accepts and drinks alcohol. This was considered a sin to the real Khalid and something that he would never do. The second part solidified in Kabir's head the fact that he was not the real Khalid.

Now we ask the questions, starting with the train scene that ends with the interval. Fake Khalid is surprised by Kabir who appears on a public train behind him. Khalid is about to take out his gun and shoot but hesitates. Then a conversation follows where Kabir says he will tell fake Khalid either the reason why he went rogue or his next target. We know now that was not the real Khalid but actually the traitor. SO, if that is the case why did he hesitate to shoot Kabir? When you look at it from the traitor's perspective, him shooting and killing Kabir could end two ways. One, he would kill the biggest threat to their evil plan and he could just run away to some foreign country and live lavishly with Ilyasi. Two, he could go back to the Indian Army and take credit for killing Kabir and infiltrate the team even more. Either way, the options are in his favor. So why did he hesitate to shoot?

Let's skip ahead now to when fake Khalid is dismissed from the job. We see a scene where fake Khalid calls his teammate and asks her what happened in Italy six months ago, the last mission Kabir went on before going rogue. The movie suggests that this is how fake Khalid seems to find out about Naina and her child, who Kabir is now looking after. However, if that's the fake Khalid, shouldn't he already know about Italy, the ambush, Naina, and everything else from Ilyasi? Ilyasi and fake Khalid are close. They both went through the surgery together. And we know from the way Ilyasi works that he keeps a tab on all his "chess pieces". Why then would he not have told fake Khalid about Italy? Would that not be crucial information for the mission?

Lastly, there is the final fight scene. To reiterate on the plastic surgery, it was purely in the face, the rest of the body is the same as the traitor. Let's get that clear. So, why then does real Khalid and fake Khalid have the same body? We see the real Khalid's shredded body when he is dancing in the high energy dance song, Jai Jai Shivshankar. Then in the last fight, we see the fake Khalid's body, which is just as shredded. Why would they look the same when they are different bodies because as the film states, it is only plastic surgery of the face and speech training for voice. Everything else is the same. This could have been easily avoided too, simply by having fake Khalid leave his shirt on, as Kabir did.

Now before we switch our focus to Saaho. I do wanna say that War does have far better production quality than Saaho, but for this particular conversation we're going to focus on its plot twists. Obviously, spoiler warning for Saaho here. If you haven't watched it yet, wait a month for it to stream on Netflix and Prime Video and come back to finish the article.

The big interval twist of the film is that the main character Saaho (Prabhas) is actually not the police officer, Ashok, that we thought he was. This loud bang with which the movie cuts to intermission on may seem crazy but it makes sense when you think about it. For example, in the coffee shop where the real Ashok (Neil Nithin Mukesh) is still thought to be the thief. Saaho and team are trying to catch him but by the time they get there he's gone. Then as the group is mad that they missed him the Barista says "coffee for Ashok". At that moment, we think that it's the thief taunting Saaho. However, after the twist, we see that Neil Nithin Mukesh ordered the coffee for himself, but when he was told by David to leave immediately, he did, without his coffee. When the barista announces the drink for Ashok, it's really for Ashok, just the real Ashok, not Saaho.

Watching Saaho a second time not only explains the twist but also develops the characters more. Take Vishwank's entrance for example. He is introduced as the "Heir to the Empire" and for the majority of the film, we are told that he's the son of Roy. However, in the end, we know that he's actually Saaho's best friend and son of Roy's right-hand man. So when Vishwank enters the throne room and states that he "won't sit in the chair until the person who killed Roy is caught", it is out of respect. He didn't want to sit in the chair that holds such power, because that isn't his place. At the end of the movie, when Saaho finally completes his mission, he sits in his father's chair proudly with Vishwank by his side.

Furthermore, as part of Saaho's mission there needed to be a fake "Black Box" that would help Saaho and his team find their enemies. So the black box is revealed to Kalki so that she will take the information to her partners and lure them out and help Saaho find where the stolen money (from the cargo ship) was hidden. With all this information, Saaho could execute his plan and in one motion get back the money and kill Devraj. If you're wondering how Saaho knows Devraj is the culprit, he was on the phone with his Dad, Roy, when the crash happened. When he went to the crash site after, his father was dead, and on the site, he also found a lighter. A lighter that he later sees paired with the Police Commissioner's own lighter, which tells him that he was also involved in Devraj's scheme.

Saaho's cinematography is also trying to give you hints about the plot twist to come. Take Neil Nithin Mukesh's introduction scene. It's a one-take that's upside down and through this glass monitor. You might think that is just to look cool but in a very literal sense, the movie is showing you that you aren't getting the full information about him. It's skewed and distorted, like the shot. Even when the shot does turn normally, we see him through a computer monitor, not face to face. And if that isn't enough, the film's hype song, Bang Bang, which is heard in a few of the trailers, spells out the story for you. Take a look at its lyrics and you can see that it's written from Saaho's perspective talking to his enemies and is about how he will "hit you like a force" and how "you won't see it coming". That's as straightforward as it gets. Details like this make the film more exciting when you watch it multiple times.

The main differences between Saaho and War can be broken into two categories: story and production quality. War has a higher production quality, but severely lacks when it comes to story, creating a very fun popcorn movie that, as long as you don't think too hard about it, is an extremely enjoyable time. Saaho, on the other hand, does have a bit less production quality mainly in the way of unpolished CGI, but when it comes to the story, every little detail makes sense and builds up towards the multiple plot twists revealed throughout the film. Saaho takes a lot of risks. And not all of them pay off. This is the reason why a big part of the audience watching felt confused or, in some way, alienated. The film was very complex to a fault. It's required to be watched twice, which not everyone is willing to do. War is a safe movie. It asks for its audience to simply munch on some popcorn and watch the action. Delving too far into the story in repeated viewings will reveal elements (which are listed above) that don't fit the puzzle as perfectly as you might think at a quick glance. This doesn't make one better than the other. These are different films with different goals. They can be enjoyed separately. And as box office numbers have shown over the past few weeks, there's certainly room in the industry for both.

With all that said, the question remains, what makes a good plot twist? Well, let me try explaining it with a metaphor. A good plot twist has to be like a well-executed surprise party. Imagine you're throwing a birthday party for your best friend. You need to buy all the supplies, invite all the guests, arrange a location and more. This means you're not going to be spending as much time with your friend but it's necessary to complete the surprise. That way, when your friend walks into that dark room and a whole bunch of people jump out and yell "surprise", it actually surprises them. Furthermore, if your friend thinks back at the week, they'll realize that the reason why you weren't hanging out with them was that you were planning the party. In this metaphor, the party is the plot twist and your friend is the audience.

Got it? No? Well, here it is in simpler terms. A good plot twist must be hinted at throughout the story but never fully revealed. It has to also make sense in the context of the movie as a whole as well as the scene. And the actions must be true to character, while not giving away their intentions.
If this sounds difficult it's because it is. Plot twists are not easy to make and often a film can fall apart due to a lackluster plot twist. And having a good plot twist doesn't guarantee success either. Twists, as with all things in filmmaking, works well when used properly and timely. Hopefully, the breakdown of plot points in War and Saaho helped shine a light on this balancing act.

If you want more great plot twists then here are a few recommendations: The Usual Suspects, a film that Saaho clearly takes inspiration from, The Sixth Sense, Evaru, which is streaming now on Amazon Prime, Gang Leader, which is also streaming on Prime, and any of director Sukumar's recent films. When watching a movie for the plot twist you need multiple watches. Pick a movie, watch it, think about it for a few days, and then watch it again. And if there's a movie with a great twist that you recommend, then comment it below.

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