Rating: 2.25/5

Banner: Yash Raj Films

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Dimple Kapadia, Ashutosh Rana, Gautam Rode, Siddhant Ghegadmal, Gavie Chahal, Salman Khan (guest role) and others

Music: Sanchit Balhara- Ankit Balhara

Cinematographer: Satchith Paulose

Editor: Aarif Sheikh

Director: Siddharth Anand

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Release date: Jan 25th, 2023

Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan was on a hiatus since long and he took his time before locking in on a project as he was reeling under a spate of flops. Now, he is back with an espionage thriller and it is time to see whether it was really worth the wait or not.

Jim (John Abraham) is a mercenary entrepreneur who is ready to do anything for money and he has a special grudge towards India. He gets his opportunity to take vengeance when a military general from Pakistan approaches him with a mission. As expected, the target is India and senior RAW official Nandini (Dimple) gets a whiff. She decides that the only person who can fix it is Pathaan (SRK). The Indian RAW agent sets out to deal with this and he is supported by Rubai (Deepika), an ISI agent. So, what is Jim’s plot towards India and why is he so vengeful? Is Pathaan successful in his mission? All this forms the rest.

It was good to see King Khan back onscreen and though his performance and expressions were routine with nothing special, he has scored brownie points with his physique. The effort and hard work is seen. Deepika Padukone did her bit as required but it lacked depth. John Abraham was usual flashing his ripped muscles wherever required with not much to perform. Dimple Kapadia was decent. Ashutosh Rana was underused. Salman Khan’s cameo was not leveraged properly. The others didn’t have much to offer except fill the screen.

The story is plain and simple with no expectations in terms of twists or intriguing factors. Equally plain is the narrative which took cinematic liberties to next level. The script lacked strength hence the screenplay tried to do its best to salvage the situation. Background score was a dampener and is certainly not matching the standards of a Shah Rukh film. Just for the one song which found a following, there was not much. The dialogues worked at few places. Cinematography was alright but couldn’t deliver wow moments. Editing was crisp. Costumes looked out of place and context while the art department was alright. The production values were the saving grace given the several foreign locations. Action sequences were average and stunts were okayish. The VFX and graphics department was certainly substandard.

Shah Rukh Khan
Salman’s cameo
Single song

Weak storyline
Poor narration
Illogical sequences
Zero emotional quotient
Amateur action scenes

Deeper Look
The above points might look like a grudge against the film just like how John Abraham’s character had against India but these observations come out of anguish. At a time when the audience has seen exceptional content through OTT, a genre like spy thriller requires at least half the effort to make it look believable and serious. It is sad to see Bollywood still revolving around projecting the hero’s machismo instead of focusing on a proper storyline, some convincing plotline and most importantly, a narrative that is able to grip the audience’s attention and make things exciting. To top it all, this is more like a comeback for Shah Rukh Khan who was quite focused on scoring a hit which matches his stamina. The film takes off on a bright note and gets to the point without wasting much time but it is after the first twenty minutes the graph starts falling. The interval bang was predictable and the second half had its moments of action and drama. But nowhere in the film was a scene which could really stir the emotion or activate the senses of the viewers. Everything was happening at a superficial level in a touch and go format. Despite huge budgets, exceptional locales and some fine performers, the way scenes are conceived and shown is sad. For instance, the entry of Salman Khan was a moment to revel. There was no elevation, no punch or emotional peak. He comes, he kicks and he goes. Similarly, some of the fight sequences were bizarre and nowhere close to realism. To add to the woes, the whole essence of showing the prestigious and decorated Indian intelligence agencies such as RAW and its dedicated agents is nothing but sheer mockery of their mettle. From a box office point of view, the film will no doubt make its money given the positioning and the long weekend but from content and a narrative perspective, this is certainly a failure. Perhaps it is time for SRK to change his board of advisors when it comes to selecting scripts and choosing the directors.

Vox Verdict
Passable But Certainly Not A Winner

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