Deccan Chronicle

Movie Review | Pathaan is a 'leave your brains behind' action thriller

Deccan Chronicle.| L. Ravichander

Published on: January 28, 2023 | Updated on: January 28, 2023
Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham starrer Pathaan' released on January 25. (Image: Twitter)

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham starrer Pathaan' released on January 25. (Image: Twitter)

It is much ado about nothing. With the ‘Bang Bang’ man going whole hog and the vehicle visualised as Khan’s return from ‘Zero’ to the jingle at the Box Office - ‘Pathaan’ is expectedly targeted at the fan following and today’s viewers who want destruction as entertainment.

The humungous effort and resource that goes into the making of such entertainers require filmmakers to spare a thought and audit their resources, their social reach and the effect of their product. Admittedly, a filmmaker need not even remotely adorn the task of a social reformer. This overt celebration of vile and violence (now crass, now sleek, now thrilling, now perverse) must be capped somewhere.

Clearly, in this ‘Don’ meets ‘Dhoom’ milieu, the sky is the limit. So much style is there that it overshadows the skeletal remains of the story. So imbalanced is the informed choice that while the end product may be what the maker (Siddharth Anand) sets out to offer is also perhaps what the catcalling and whistling section of the audience at the multiplex expects.

The point on hand - is that while our cinema has migrated from the small or even big lavish theatres to the multiplex, in the dark confines of the theatre we are still the same who can be crude, rude, lewd, and loud – all dedicated to the stars we adore.

In this case, Siddharth Anand gives the viewer umpteen opportunities to go for their hero Shah Rukh Khan - Pathaan. You can also imagine the excitement when he is joined by ‘Tiger’ (Salman) in a rescue operation in Russia. Well, Pathaan and Tiger are also likely to meet up again as broadly suggested in the film.

However, Shah Rukh except for bringing in a new hairstyle adds precious little to the new role. He is called upon to fit into a vague age role to adjust to a bizarre hate machine alongside science, and technology and work in the space of espionage, adventure and romance.

The terror outfit he is fighting is a Corporate Terrorism Inc paradigm that does not even have the fig leaf justification of patriotism. Shah Rukh is also a tad too old and rusted for the muscular Jim (John Abraham) who is still mono expressional but it suits the role. He gives villainy beef aplenty. Does he don enough with a script loaded in favour of negativity and evil? By his standards, this is a stellar performance and surely a step ahead of the stylised ham of the more famous Khan.

Also, the escape route for limited actors (excuse my exaggeration) is that villains need to be depicted as vile, not scary or gross helps.

Then there is Deepika whose ‘Besharam Rang’ suffered the vice of overexposure (pun unintended) She does a wardrobe salute to Zeenat Aman from ‘Qurbani’. Who is hotter could well be a generational take.

To those who are wondering why one is to speak of her oomph factor instead of her performance, the response is simple - one can only discuss what is offered. She is often involved in seducing one or the other or matching our Don (Pathaan) or ‘Dhoom’ (Jim) in thrills and stunts. When rarely called upon to emote she goes blank or stares.

It is pleasant to see Dimple Kapadia get decent screen space. This is an inexplicably delayed entry of the gorgeous actor in the Yash Raj camp. Cannot fathom how she missed the Yash Chopra vision.

Now let us get to the most tangential factor - the story. Pathaan sets out to apprehend his former RAW colleague Jim, now an international terrorist whose corporate world of crime has graduated to terrorism without cause. He operates with no ideology but an axe to grind against the Indian system for having treated him shabbily in the past.

Dr. Rubina Mohsin (Deepika Padukone) an ISI agent is a mole in Pathaan’s camp. She, however, changes sides like an Indian politician and colour like a chameleon. The expertise of the Pathaan-Rubina combo is employed to smuggle Rakth Bheej, a coloured virus into a test tube tucked away in a locker in Russia. It could be a biological disaster if it is in the hands of Jim. A few thrills and Jim gets hold of Rakth Bheej. Pathaan’s tasks before going for a shampoo include mundane things like visiting Dubai, Spain, Russia, and France, retrieving Rakth Bheej, sparing the unsuspicious Indian polity of becoming a victim to biological warfare, wooing the ISI agent and destroying the evil Jim.

He manages all this with consummate ease and some assistance from another spy, Tiger (Salman Khan).

Siddharth Anand and Shah Rukh Khan deliver a top-of-the-rack, leave-your-brains-behind action thriller that not only reiterates SRK’s position as the numero uno but also that hate and no-brainers have a great market.

About The Author

The writer is a senior counsel of the Telangana high court

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