When I watched the trailer of the film Fighter, the overdose of hyper-nationalism, especially the dialogue about IOP (India Occupied Pakistan) made me wonder whether I will be watching a sophisticated version of Gadar in this Siddharth Anand film. Well, there is no denying the fact that the movie is playing to the gallery to please the jingoistic sentiments of the majority, but the surprisingly good thing is that it is reserved for certain areas of the film. The 160+ minutes-long movie has a pretty engaging packaging that covers the military life of the individuals, and in my opinion, in terms of production value and quality of writing, I would say Fighter is Siddharth Anand’s best film in his post-Bang Bang switch, as an action movie director.
Shamsher Pathania (Patty) is the hero, and he is a member of a special force of the Indian Air Force. The commanding officer of the team was Rakesh Jai Singh, aka Rocky. Minal Rathore, Sartaj Singh, Basheer Khan, etc., were also part of this quick response team. What we see in the movie Fighter is the fictional series of events that lead to the infamous Pulwama attack of 2019 and how all the events around that changed the life of Patty.
Hyper nationalism has been the flavor of the season for some time now, and with the elections around the corner, there are so many movies coming up these days with the “new India” motive, including the upcoming Eid film, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Whenever Fighter becomes this India versus Pakistan movie, the tone of it is extremely flat as the writing makes sure to show Pakistan as a set of unintelligent people sitting around a table and indirectly praising India. But like I already said, the percentage of such scenes in Fighter is relatively less compared to the image they sort of created through that trailer.
After establishing the characters pretty quickly in the initial moments, the movie jumps into their interpersonal relationships and also to the conflict that has to do with disobedience and ego. In those areas that lead up to the conflict point and the patches that lead to the final showdown, the screenplay manages to create a very compelling narrative that has set pieces with clarity. And even though the pitch of the drama is loud and deep down, you know that this ain’t going to happen in the real army, over-the-top drama you see works to an extent. I think, barring one Pathaan-ish jump that Patty makes toward the end of the film, I would say almost everything else in the movie has a tolerable conviction.
I don’t know how much of the sequences were real and CGI, but in comparison to all the other action films of Siddharth, I would say Fighter looks less green screen-ish, and that actually made me overlook the simplistic and predictable drama in the story. Yes, the Topgun inspiration is very evident in the designs of all those clashes happening in the air, and there is Bollywood masala happening in between. But thankfully, Anand never pushes it too much to make it a facepalm fest. The writing by Ramon Chibb and Siddharth Anand has managed to blend over-the-top heroics and standard military procedure in a filmy yet convincing way.
The movie clearly knows its audience and gives them enough moments to enjoy the swagger and abs of Hrithik Roshan. The “please” sequence initially felt like a forceful fan service, but I liked how they reused it later at two stages in the movie. The drama in the story offers Hrithik the space to perform the vulnerable bit of Patty, and the actor was pretty good in all that. Deepika Padukone as Minal, aka Minni, is pretty much a team member in the context of the story as the romantic dynamic between Minni and Patty is not that dominant in the film. Maybe because of her star value, Minni is projected as the strong and independent girl who took up a job that wasn’t conventionally a girl’s job. And frankly, some of the dialogue around that was a bit preachy. Anil Kapoor is that typical CO with constant anger and dissatisfaction on his face, and the man knows really well how to carry that kind of a role. Karan Singh Grover, Akshay Oberoi, Sanjeeda Sheikh, etc., are the other names in the cast. Rishabh Sawhney, who makes the debut as the antagonist, definitely has the looks and body language, and I would say he managed to make the bad guy look intense, despite the writing not really offering him much to work with.
Fighter is pretty much the cousin brother of Uri. This cinematic version of India-Pakitan tension uses multiple real-life events like the Pulvama attack and the Balakot airstrikes. Chest-thumping patriotism in the final act of the movie definitely feels Gadar-ish. But as I already mentioned, the production quality of the film in terms of CGI and cinematography makes the theatrical viewing experience a lot more engaging.
The writing by Ramon Chibb and Siddharth Anand has managed to blend over-the-top heroics and standard military procedure in a filmy yet convincing way.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended