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Deepika Padukone's cameo in Jawan created a bigger impact than Fighter; here's why

From heroics to heartbreak, here's a dissection of Deepika Padukone's role in Fighter.

Deepika Padukone's cameo in Jawan created a bigger impact than Fighter; here's why
Deepika Padukone in Fighter; Jawan

Last Updated: 02.10 PM, Jan 27, 2024


It's been two days since Fighter hit the big screen, and the polarised opinions are still making their way on the Internet. Many are praising the film for its stupendous aerial action sequences, while many are also criticising the film for being pro-war. The Siddharth Anand directorial comes exactly a year after his previous outing, Pathaan, starring Shah Rukh Khan in the titular role, which set a precedent of sorts for bringing slick action while also being nationalistic without a hint of jingoism.

Character dynamics and patriotic themes

However, when it comes to Fighter, it's the invoking patriotism that becomes the hero of the story, while the characters are just being the driving force to take it forward by soaring it to the skies and landing it properly on the airstrip. The lead actors include Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone, along with Anil Kapoor, who, as Indian Air Force officers, take charge of hunting down the terrorists who are stationed in the neighbouring country. 


But the film addresses something about being in a man's world and how women are making their mark in it. Deepika Padukone portrays Minal Rathore, also known as Minni, who faces disownment from her parents due to her decision to join the Indian Air Force. There's also a scene in the second half where Hrithik, as Shamsher Pathania, aka Patty, accidentally meets her onscreen parents, Ashutosh Rana and Geeta Aggarwal Sharma, and tells them about Minni's achievements without asking for anything in return.

Many feel that it serves as a saviour complex, but I say otherwise. Both the characters bond over trauma in the film, and that does come into play as the film progresses. However, one of the gripes I have with Fighter is the exploration of romance between Patty and Minni. Deepika's character expresses borderline unrequited love, while Hrithik fears reciprocating it. In a couple of scenes, she questions him about whether she should be the one to initiate everything when it comes to advancing their relationship. There's also a juvenile dialogue where Minni tells Patty that he decided to make her cry or something. I expected that at least "hurt" or "unhappy" could have sounded better.

Deepika Padukone's portrayal and feminist discourse

Despite skillfully piloting a chopper, Deepika's character appears to embody the "smash the patriarchy" trope. The actor has risen above that with her films, where she is the hero and the unspoken feminist that she is. 

Moreover, her not-so-cleverly new definition of feminism also made her the topic of discussion on the Internet. For the uninitiated, Deepika stated, "I just feel like this whole male-female conversation... I don't think women can succeed without men, and I don't think men can succeed without women. You never do anything alone. I think we need to rephrase the definition of feminism."

The actor spoke about it from a film industry perspective, but in some way it also gives a hint about the character that she plays. However, the wording seemed off, as mentioning the gender was unnecessary.

Comparative impact

I expected more from Siddharth Anand and Ramon Chibb while penning the character of Minal, as it's played by Deepika, who even with her presence shines in a film that's "male centric." She played the female lead in Anand's Pathaan and had a cameo in Atlee's Jawan, once again paired opposite SRK.

I feel her role as Aishwarya Rathore, a 20-minute screen presence, created more impact than what she played in Fighter. She believed herself to be the wife of a wronged martyr and took charge of saving her life and raising a toddler until he turned five. She also assured him that his parents were innocent of the crimes they were accused of. Deepika's character also dies as a braveheart, with the assurance that her son will bring justice to his parents. 

Even writing about her Jawan character brings a different joy due to the effect it had on the film as well as her career trajectory. But unfortunately, I can't say that about her Fighter character, where the impact was more by the fighter planes and not by her role. However, all the actors in the film simply come together to narrate a story of the Indian Air Force, which, in my opinion, has been portrayed more effectively in this film.

Fighter marked the third outing of Deepika with Siddharth after Bachna Ae Haseeno and Pathaan; well, despite being a part of the towering film, this had the least impact overall.