Siddharth Anand’s ‘Pathaan’ is a fine blend of Hollywood-style action and desi-style masala

Posted on January 30, 2023


Spoilers ahead…

Shah Rukh Khan carries forward both the “Yash Raj Spy Universe” and his own career in a rooted action movie.

It’s probably too early to say this, but on the basis of War and now Pathaan, writer Shridhar Raghavan, dialogue-writer Abbas Tyrewala, and director Siddharth Anand have revitalised the Indian action movie. I use the word “Indian” deliberately, because the stunts are from Hollywood, but the heart that makes these “Yash Raj Spy Universe” films tick is as desi as desi can be. In the Dhoom franchise or in the Salman Khan-starring Tiger films, Yash Raj have been trying to marry our masala sensibilities to Bond/Mission-Impossible action spectacles, with middling results. War is where it all finally came together. Scratch the Hollywood-inspired action set pieces, and you had the emotional connect of a Muslim patriot attempting to atone for the sins of his father and thus fulfil the wishes of his mother.

Pathaan is all about the mother: Mother India. In a Manmohan Desai-esque masterstroke, the story is about a hero named Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan) and a villain named Jim (John Abraham), and their representational mother is a Hindu named Nandini (Dimple Kapadia). Jim’s villainy is created by the fact that his “father” abandoned him, the way the Amitabh Bachchan character’s villainy in Shakti was created when his father abandoned him during a hostage negotiation. So there’s a lot of Salim-Javed in here, too: like in Deewar, the mother faces one good son, and one son gone bad. I chuckled when a pissed-off Pakistani officer hears about Article 370 being annulled, and calls for war: “elaan-e-jung” is the term he uses. That’s the name of an Anil Sharma masala hit from 1989. And that officer does speak like he is in an Anil Sharma movie. Sample line: Shaitan se dosti karne ka waqt aa gaya hai.

You can read the rest of the review here:

And you can watch the video review here:

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi