If you’re looking for an enriching movie experience where you can have an intellectual conversation about it in the car ride home, this isn’t the movie for you. If, however, you want a fun time on a weekend night then strap on for the absolute joy of a ride that Pathaan is. Pathaan delivers an unapologetic Bollywood experience that audiences have been starving for. Turn off your phones and your brains and let the spectacle of Bollywood take over.
I must have been 6 when I first saw Main Hoon Na(2004). I instantly fell in love with the movie, but more so with the man: Shah Rukh Khan. If you have ever seen a SRK movie (which you obviously have, if you’re Indian) you know that his movies have a certain aura about them.
It doesn’t matter if SRK is running around on an university rooftop in Darjeeling [Main Hoon Na], or walking around nonchalantly in a London Mall [Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham], he does it with unadulterated charisma. And as long as it’s him doing it, you’re going to watch it and you’re going to gasp in awe.
It was important to discuss how I feel about Shah Rukh Khan and my affection for his movies not just to let you know about my biases, but also because Pathaan‘s success depended entirely on Shah Rukh Khan’s performance. And oh boy, did he perform. Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend to care about the “YRF Spy Universe”, but I’m also not going to sit here and pretend that watching Shah Rukh Khan beat up baddies with the wind gently blowing his hair wasn’t 100% hype.
To talk specifics, Pathaan has forgettable dialogues for the most part but also has a few hidden gems with criticism masqueraded as patriotism and some genuinely funny interactions. The action sequences are really well choreographed albeit littered with some funny ones like: John Abraham walking towards an overturned car quite literally mimicking a scene from The Batman(2022) or the protagonists somehow running and fighting on top of a moving train without a single missed step.
The music was brilliant and absolutely necessary to complete the Bollywood experience. And while the movie stayed true to its Bollywood roots, it was refreshing to see Deepika’s portrayal of a femme fatale rather than the typical damsel in distress. Instead of just being the protagonist’s yes woman, she has her own reasons to fight and her own ways of being badass. And let’s be honest, I don’t need to know your sexual orientation to know that Deepika shooting 10 people in succession without a hair out of place WILL turn you on.
But what was it about the forgettable plot or the almost funny set pieces that made me like the movie as much as I liked Om Shanti Om(2007)?
There’s a scene in Pathaan where Shah Rukh talks to another character[name redacted to avoid spoilers!] about how he’s too old for this. To paraphrase, “It’s been 30 years in this job. Maybe you and I should retire and look for replacements.” To which they add, “Nah. These youngsters won’t be able to do it. We’ll have to do it ourselves.”
This blatant meta commentary about Bollywood was the final piece of the puzzle to realize that Pathaan had been spoon feeding the audience exactly what we asked for all along. The over the top action, the overtly obvious twists, the overtly dramatic reveals, the long music sequences were all EXACTLY what director Siddharth wanted to deliver and he delivered them in spectacular fashion. This brand of unapologetic movie making is all I am about and I wouldn’t skip a beat to watch it again.
[If you liked reading this review, maybe you’ll like the rest of my Movie posts as well!]
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