An emo line at a time, nonstop action, attractive protagonists, the hero who can rescue the world, and a high-octane set piece are all present in Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone’s spy thriller Pathaan
First things first, Bollywood is back. Shah Rukh Khan is back.
Hindi movies have been constructing the ‘desi’ equivalents of the Bond-Bourne franchise for a while now. Tiger has been ‘zinda’ in a pacy double-bill, Agent Vinod has done his bit, BellBottom has flexed and flared, but it is ‘Pathaan’ which has got the spy movie-laced-with-heavy-doses-of-patriotism bouncing off the screen, with Shah Rukh Khan acing the action avatar, flaunting the floppy-hair-glinting-aviators-eight packs (or is it twelve?) look.
That’s because it finally has everything an action film should have: non-stop action, glamorous leads, the ability to save the world, high-octane set pieces, and emo lines sprinkled throughout.
As Shah Rukh Khan returns with Pathaan, fan clubs book theatres to celebrate ‘SRK festival’ amid a spectacular advance booking |
Bonus: Katrina Kaif, who delivered a serious ass kick in Tiger 2, faces heavy competition from the incredibly slender Deepika Padukone, who matches SRK stride for stride. Additionally, Dimple Kapadia plays the sassy counterpart to Moneypenny, building on her blink-and-miss performance in Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.” And John Abraham, who portrays the main antagonist, makes the most of his opportunity to speak.
Numerous spies, sarcastic RAW directors (Ashutosh Rana), wicked ISI generals, and armed terrorists living in hotspots around the world are all involved in the plot. Pakistan is refocusing on Kashmir (it will never learn, will it). Jim (John Abraham), an inhabitant of India, has abandoned ship. Rubina, a stunning ISI agent played by Deepika Padukone, looks equally at home in a bikini and skin-tight spandex. In top-secret laboratories, a lethal virus that is far more terrible than Covid 19 is being created. Desh-ke-dushman are crawling all over the place, and there is a very real threat. However, you may relax because Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan), the best and bravest Indian, is nearby.
The scenes where you force a yawn are where you can see the difficulty in pulling off a two and a half hour film (yes, it can happen even when everything is galloping along at break-neck speed). Just to make sure nothing is left out, Pathaan and Jim engage in a battle in the air (many helicopters suffered injuries during the production of this movie), skim through ice floes and into freezing water, and pursue each other down winding roads. There is some laugh-out-loud silly material, which is standard for this kind of movie. Additionally, it gets boring hearing about “Pathaan” in the third person (kitni baar bologe, yaar). We were successful the first time, so trust us.
The slack is swiftly tightened, though, when a whole train is commandeered for a special starring Pathaan and a keffiyeh-clad spy whose signature manoeuvres had the audience cheering. And then there is that song, which sparked a great deal of debate weeks before it was released. There isn’t really anything new about it (YRF songs on beaches should really be a different Bollywood sub-genre), but there’s no denying that Pathaan and Rubina swaying and staring at each other on a Spanish beach is more of a potato than a hot proposition. But let me reassure those who are concerned: alas, nothing besharam occurs even when there is only a gun between them.
The movie comes out at a time when SRK and Bollywood are under attack. Pathaan is that sateek jawaab of this beleaguered pathaan, who manages a number of feats in his comeback after a number of medium-bad to terrible films: gives it to the #BoycottBollywood brigade, pulls off the dishy-and-dishevelled look rippling those abs, give us a laugh-out-loud moment (I won’t give it away, but it involves a line from