The Pathaan Story: The origin story of an ex-army man turned undercover agent Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan) and his arch nemesis, Jim (John Abraham), expands Yrf’s spy universe, which was previously led by Tiger (Salman Khan) and Kabir (Hrithik Roshan).
Review of Pathaan: Pathaan is an ambitious action thriller that plays to the crowd and lives up to its hype—it marks Shah Rukh Khan’s return to the big screen after four long years. Pathaan’s writing is far-fetched, but it has a lot of star power and style. At first, it looks like a filmy Mountain Dew commercial that slowly but surely finds its feet.
The plot centers on a Pakistani officer who wants India to pay for this “mistake” following India’s revocation of article 370, which refers to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He approaches Jim, a formidable ex-RAW agent who has been mistreated by his own people. He is joined by his gorgeous accomplice Rubai, a former ISI agent played by Deepika Padukone who has no idea why she is there. As they travel across continents and engage in a perilous game of betrayal and vengeance, Pathaan, Jim, and Rubai engage in eye-to-eye combat. The three are in a race to destroy and safeguard the worlds they cherish.
In his spy thriller, Siddharth Anand gives it an extravagant treatment. He presents it more like a superhero movie that requires a lot of belief to be believed. Here, it’s clear that he adores mainstream Hollywood blockbusters like the Marvel films and Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible series, among others. Exaggerated action and chase scenes, death and gravity-defying stunts on cars, bikes, ice, and helicopters, immortal heroes and villains uttering punchy dialogue, and a femme fatale are all infused with the concept of patriotism.
This is a new territory for SRK, who is most beloved in romantic or conversational roles, as action takes precedence over emotion for the majority of the movie. At 57, as a full-fledged action hero, it is fascinating how he lets his body speak for itself alongside those powerfully evocative eyes. A subpar VFX and average script are saved by his presence. The film’s music by Vishal & Shekhar manages to capture the heroism and bravado on display, despite the fact that the background score doesn’t quite feel like it fits the scenes.
The excellent performance of Jim by John Abraham is also Pathaan’s highlight. John is menacing, and he makes the classic case of the villain overshadowing the hero in parts, whether it’s in his Bane-like masked entrance or in stunt sequences.
While Deepika Padukone is perfectly suited to play the obedient, double-crossing, morally ambiguous leggy agent, her chemistry with SRK is lacking. It lacks the enthusiasm of John-SRK’s characters. Once more, Dimple Kapadia pulls off a Tenet and gives the play the emotional weight and gravitas it needs. You wish other characters could play her role with the same sincerity.
Karan and Arjun (wink, wink) are brought back together in the YRF spy universe for an iconic whistle moment when Bhai meets the bad guy. Pathaan has all the ingredients of a masala potboiler, if you’re willing to overlook the frivolity in dialogue like “You are pretty screwed.” It has slow-mo entries, an iconic battle between good and bad, and, most importantly, a sexy-smouldering Shah Rukh Khan who can fight the good fight both on and off the screen. He is still the King without a doubt.