The five-year wait to see Shah Rukh Khan on the big screen is full paisa vasool.
Last Updated: 09.20 AM, Feb 24, 2023
Before I get into the experience of seeing His Royal Buffness flex his muscles on the big screen after five years, let’s write an epitaph first for those who thought fans would be deterred by self-styled protectors of patriotism. I love the way the film laughs at them all when Shah Rukh says, ‘Jai Hind!’
Oh yes, Shah Rukh Khan, the one reason why people had gathered outside the IMAX theatre in Bombay at 6.30 am. Someone was wearing a tee with the star’s face plastered all over it like postage stamps. PVR folks gave away merc to 13 who showed up as a family. I didn’t care. I love the fact that the folks manning the coffee and dessert counters remember that I drink black coffee. Hallelujah!
Amid deafening cheers I watched the film unfold. Yes, they let everyone hold up their phone cameras to capture the moment when the star who is supposed to have met all kinds of directors and heard all sorts of scripts before he decided on this one. But true fans just watched hungrily as Pathaan got beaten up ‘Somewhere in Africa’. I have come to hate the location titles with a vengeance simply because they are dumbed down. But the fight sequence is so good, you will need a keen eye to notice the length of the shot. It’s not as good as Raid: The Redemption yet, but Shah Rukh’s new muscled body gives the hip shaking Insta generation something to think about.
Wasn’t expecting the outstretched arms romance, but SRK’s eyes do pain of betrayal best. Deepika Padukone is rather bronzed and gorgeous, but this movie gives her ample time to play with big guns. And yes, I am grateful to the filmmakers for not falling for the rather obvious trap of showing a cat fight. Another obvious enemy is Pakistan but thankfully we don’t have to bear yet another bunch of uniformed men ‘ji-janab’ ing one
Another. The mantle of hate is transferred to Winter Soldier Jim (John Abraham has the word patriot tattooed on his body, and gets to flash those awesome dimples to distract people from his sad voice). Jim is the head of ‘Outfit X’ and they work jobs for the fun of creating chaos. I thought it was a rather obvious branding effort because the members are all ex-spies (FSS, Bundesnachrichtendienst, DGSE and so on).
As all villains do, Jim also has an evil plan to unleash ‘kehar’ on India, paid for by the Pakistanis. But Pathaan is caught by Moscow and is being transported by train with several baddies and uniformed men to… (presumably) Siberia? Who cares, they’re going to drop Tiger into a train! What? Say that again? Yes!
The theatre erupted in the loudest cheer to see Karan Arjun fight the baddies on the big screen again after 28 years! This is no dance with the Fan. This is a full fledged mara-mari, yeh-dosti-hum-nahi-todenge role. I wanted to be the strip of painkillers that is passed from one superstar to the other. They are simply magical on the screen. The writing here is simply to keep that smile plastered on the face of the audience. Uff! The chemistry between the two is so humongous, you forget Deepika Padukone exists.
There were rumours about Bhai’s appearance in the movie. After all, we were the first ones to see the teaser of Bhai’s film this Eid: Kisi Ka Bhai, Kisi Ki Jaan. But this is such a brilliant pairing, I would have paused the screening and utaroed nazar! Salman and Shah Rukh ki jodi salamat rahe!
They’re fighting superbad Jim - who like all Bond villains - has kidnapped Indian scientists to create such horrendous stuff that could wipe out an entire city. I wish everyone who writes super villains in the script would read Peter Anspach’s brilliant list that describes the Top 100 things I would do if I ever became an Evil Overlord.
Movie villains keep making mistakes that audiences just tolerate. But they amount to nothing when you watch Pathaan in action. The Badshah of Romance proves himself to be very good when he’s swinging his fisticuffs and kicking the baddies in the face as well. That’s boss energy right there. Shah Rukh rules the screen. And you try to be as stern as Dimple Kapadia or as mean as Ashutosh Rana, but the two melt right in front of us.
There are plenty of inside jokes which will make you laugh, and one WhatsApp joke which is delivered with a knowing grin because Deepika continues to be a ‘bomb’. Such is the magic. And you are glad. People will be back at the movies to eat the overpriced popcorn. I know I will be seeing the movie again, when more people have seen their King. But the joy of watching a first day, first show and coming back home with a voice hoarse with all that screaming is something else!
P.S. Wait for the post credits, pre-last song scene. Dard-e-Disco dialogue between the two superstars is by gawd, better than any Marvel post credits scene I have seen so far.
About the author:
Manisha Lakhe writes on films and TV shows, is a poet, teacher, traveller and mom (and not necessarily in that order). Could sell her soul for Pinot and a good cheesecake.
(Disclaimer: Views expressed in the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of OTTplay. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.)