Pathaan Review | A Passable Action Entertainer That Celebrates Brand SRK

Every movie in the YRF Spy Universe has a template more inclined to celebrate its star actor by creating over-the-top action set pieces. Pathaan, the fourth movie in this universe, which also marks the return of Shah Rukh Khan after a 4-year break from film, is also a template action package that mixes patriotism with larger-than-life action sequences. With the heroics getting depicted mostly in a convincing way, Pathaan becomes a watchable action entertainer that celebrates its leading man.

The Indian government’s decision to scrap Article 370 irks the Pakistani military general, and he convinces the higher officials that a harsh reply should be given to India. For that, he seeks the help of Jim, the man who heads a private terror organization named Outfit X. RAW officials eventually had to take a call. And they decided to go to their best, Pathaan, an agent who was believed to be dead. The rift between Jim and Pathaan was also a key reason for this decision. How Pathaan saves the country from the attack of Outfit X is what we see in this Siddharth Anand film.

Logic is not something you should be looking for in a movie like Pathaan. The Hindi cinema syntax of being mass masala is somewhere between being vintage Rajinikanth and typical Tom Cruise. Siddharth Anand is trying to crack that zone, and in the initial moments of the movie, he does that with absolute ease. As the film goes toward the interval, a level of predictability starts to seep in, and Siddharth tries to hide the lack of novelty through flashy visuals. The second half is a lot more action-driven, and the efforts to notch up the octane in action at times work and sometimes fall flat, mostly because of bad visual effects.

The return of SRK after the hiatus is obviously the USP of Pathaan. And if you are someone who has loved seeing him being rough on screen, the movie offers enough moments of clap-worthy heroism. From physique to voice modulation, Shah Rukh Khan uses his charisma to give believability to this image of an indestructible patriot. Deepika Padukone, as ISI agent Rubina is not there just for the songs. And it was good to see her handling a fair amount of action sequences. John Abraham, as the antagonist, was perfect, and his attitude in the film made the villain look a lot more natural. Credit should be given to the screenplay for providing a solid enough backstory for that character. Ashutosh Rana and Dimple Kapadia were fine in their respective roles. Designed specifically to create applause moments inside the theaters, the Salman Khan cameo (which was surprisingly long) was a tad bit annoying due to the excessive display of Bhai-Bhai camaraderie.

From Bang Bang onwards, Siddharth Anand has been making these high-octane action movies. And I would say he is learning from his movies’ flaws. I wasn’t a huge fan of War, mainly because some plot twists were too much to be considered creative liberty or imagination. Even though Pathaan has a similar texture in how the action sequences are conceived, Siddharth is not pushing it too much to make it look like a cousin of Race 3. On a scripting level also, you can sense smartness. Article 370, biological war, virus, etc., are incorporated into the script. And I liked how they used the backstory of Jim to keep the movie away from the jingoistic tone.

Satchith Paulose’s cinematography has the style quotient that is required for a film of this magnitude. At the same time, he has used the lighting in specific sequences to give a visual language layer to the scene. Aarif Sheikh’s cuts need to be appreciated. His trimming of shots has helped the movie look real in most of the impractical visuals. I am saying this because many of the scenes that looked tacky in the trailer looked really neat on the big screen cut. The background score by Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara created that much-needed mass euphoria.

From characters flying in jet packs without face protection to the villain pulling two helicopters with a rope, this isn’t the movie where you should be looking for a foolproof script. The aim here is to celebrate the SRK brand. And just like how they did that with Tiger and War, you get a similarly packaged entertainer with a different cast. With enough fan service, a pinch of patriotism (need of the hour), and consistently placed action sequences, Pathaan is a passable action entertainer.

Final Thoughts

With enough fan service, a pinch of patriotism (need of the hour), and consistently placed action sequences, Pathaan is a passable action entertainer.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.