Movie Review | Siddharth Anand's Fighter: An Adrenaline-Pumped Ode to Patriotism

Siddharth Anand has been inching his way slowly, surely into the success orbit. Spy, soldier, war near overlapping genres, big stars has got him into the firm terrain of adrenalin orbit of our cinema. Now it is about aero dynamics as the promos would suggest. Fortunately, the film has a lot more to offer. Is that counter productive? He does not go ballistic like Anil Sharma did with the Gadar activity.

A sumptuous national mood of happiness bathing in a fervour of religious oneness is just what the doctor ordered. Yes, even now, our greatness is emphasised by compare and jingoism is an unapologetic template that gets the desired whistles from the target audience. Not since the Golden Age of the Guptas, arguably has India had it all going. The film is thus in sync with the times. Siddharth Anand makes hay while the sun shines. The heroes here are trained personnel of the Air Force. The film maker is determined to point out the bravery and the patriotic fervour of the Men-in-Blue. In contrast, the army officers on the other side of the border are evil personified. They are depicted as puppets in the hands of a single terrorist. In fact, it is this contrast of men engaged in similar tasks by profile that robs the script of credibility, if that be any parameter of evaluation. For most of us, the bravado, the superior evolved status is a given and at its unapologetic best, it is nothing more than simple acknowledgement of the near universal truth.

A group of fighter pilots are out there under the Commanding Officer CO Rakesh Jai Singh (Anil Kapoor). The group includes a predictable mix of communities: Basheer (Akshay Oberoi), Sartaj Gill (Karan Singh Grover), Sukhi (a Sikh – Banveen Singh), Minal Rathore (Deepika Padukone) and needless to add, the most enigmatic, talented, brave, friendly Shamsher Pathania (Hrithik Roshan). A lot of footage meanders on establishing camaraderie, campus lifestyle at an airforce base and an inexplicable conflict between Patty and his CO. Yes, the structure is obviously designed with references aplenty to terrorism and the enemy on the other side. Our protagonists are not second-generation officers. In fact, Minal’s parents (Ashutosh Rana and Geeta Agarwal) have disowned her for being the girl and daring to fly. Patty’s dad (Talat Aziz) is a retired middle-class host who is doing no nothing. When Minal meets Patty, there is the usual oneupmanship. Cupid’s arrows don’t take long to work and seconds before a smooch of commitment, there is an emergency.

The top aviators as the team is projected are air warriors critically aware of terrorist organisations and their activities in J & K. References to Pulwama, Balakot and Uri with customary zeal occupy patriotic space in a story that seems designed to be released in the sandwich between the temple success and the celebration of the Republic.

It is not difficult and predictably Siddharth Anand treds the path often taken of using two brushes. He dips one in the black can – no guesses on whom it is used. The other is generously used in favour of self-certification. In keeping with the age-old adage that good wins over evil, you sit through 166 minutes and some high adrenaline moments to leave with the satisfaction that the terrorists will be destroyed, and our Forces will do everything to keep us well guarded. Given the times we live in and the super conference we have in the unparalleled great leadership that is guiding us through presently, the entire film may be rhetorical. To invest in confidence building is passé. Today, we are bursting and rightly so in confidence that our national parameters and patriotic quotient have never synced so high and perfectly.

Unfortunately, the central villain in the piece Azhar Akhtar (Rishab Sabhwaney) is a huge let down. Sid Anand invests on a weirdo hairstyle and a red patched cornea to create a seemingly fearsome terrorist. His access to the military headquarters of our neighbours is a crude joke. He literally trades their arm force generals like a convent school principal in the early 60s would treat an erring kid for bad handwriting. Strangely, it is the emotive moments of the film that give it its high. The likes of Karan Singh Grover and Akshay Oberoi sink into their uniforms with great conviction. Anil Kapoor continues to be enigmatic. For a man with that surname, he is additionally well kept and performs in keeping with his reputation as a veteran actor. The tapori of Ram Lakhan to the suave businessman in Dil Dhadakne Do, has been the range up for exhibition. He is literally superimposed in the final action scenes only in recognition of his talent and arguably his space at the box office. Deepika Padukone has grown constantly and steadily as an actor. She literally has no competition in her space (save Alia who comes with a slightly different slant). If Pathan gave her the pedestal as an action heroine, Fighter solidifies her positioning there. Her chemistry with the Greek God is subtle, unique, special, and different. After occupying most of her commercial space with the Khan, Kapoor, and her husband, she now finds space and timing with the killer looks Roshan.

Hrithik’s talent has never been in question. All the ingredients that highlight his strengths are packed in Fighter. To him the script and to his fans, the film is paisa vasool. Sample dialogues like tirange se haseen khafn nahi hoga or his punch line when he is delivering punches on the villain when he says Jai Hind is the pride of every child, Jai Hind is the prayer of every mother, you get the sense of the drift.

Gear up if you are not already there. Tune in with the fashion gurus of the day. It is the case of it is now, immediately now, to be unabashedly patriotic and to bask in the glory. Do not forget that we Indians are singularly fortunate for living in the best of times and in the cusp of Ram Rajya.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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