Pathaan Movie Review
An event film of sorts, since it marks Shah Rukh Khan’s return to the big screen after four long years, Pathaan is an ambitious action thriller that plays to the gallery and lives up to the hype. Far-fetched in writing but high on star power and style, Pathaan initially seems like a filmy Mountain Dew commercial which slowly but steadily finds its footing.
The plot follows India’s revocation of article 370 (special status of Jammu and Kashmir) and its impact on a Pakistani officer, who wants India to pay for this ‘mistake’. He reaches out to the formidable Jim, an Ex-RAW agent wronged by his own people. He is joined by his ravishing accomplice Rubai an ex-ISI agent (Deepika Padukone) with ambiguous motives. Pathaan, Jim and Rubai lock eyes and horns, as they hop continents and indulge in a dangerous game of betrayal and revenge. The three race to destroy and protect the worlds they believe in.
Director Siddharth Anand gives an over-the-top treatment to his spy thriller. He presents it more like a superhero film that needs massive suspension of disbelief. His fascination and fanboy worship of mainstream Hollywood blockbusters like Marvel films or Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible series to name a few, is evident here. Expect Falcon like wingsuit, exaggerated action & chase sequences, death and gravity-defying stunts on cars, bikes, ice and helicopters, immortal heroes and villains mouthing punchy dialogues, a femme fatale and all of this seeped in the idea of patriotism.
Action overrides emotions for major part of the film and that’s new territory for SRK, who is most loved in romantic or conversational roles. It’s interesting how he lets his body do the talking along with those powerfully evocative eyes at 57, as a full-fledged action hero. It is his presence that salvages an average script and subpar VFX. While the background score doesn’t quite feel in sync with the scenarios, the film’s music by Vishal & Shekhar manages to reflect the heroism and bravado on display.
Pathaan’s highlight is also John Abraham’s solid portrayal of Jim. Be it his Bane like masked entry or stunt sequences, John is menacing and makes a classic case of the villain overshadowing the hero in portions.
Deepika Padukone can kick ass and is perfectly cast as the dutiful, double crossing, morally ambiguous leggy agent but her chemistry with SRK feels underdeveloped. It lacks the spark that John-SRK’s characters share. Dimple Kapadia does a Tenet once again and lends that much-needed gravitas and emotional heft to the proceedings. You wish other characters exuded the sincerity of her part.
The YRF spy universe reunites Karan and Arjun (wink wink) to give you an iconic whistle moment as Bhai meets the badshah. If you are willing to overlook the frivolity in dialogues like ‘You are pretty screwed’, Pathaan has all the ingredients of a masala potboiler — slowmo entries, iconic battle of good versus bad and most importantly, a sexy-smouldering Shah Rukh Khan, who can fight the good fight on and off the screen. He’s still the undisputed King.