Pathaan Is A Celebration Of What It Means To Be Shahrukh Khan, Nothing More

After the end credits roll, in Siddharth Anand’s Pathaan, Shahrukh Khan and another superstar are sitting on a rail track, talking about the idea of quitting films because they think they’ve become old and have issues like lower back pain. The conclusion of this conversation is that even if they want to leave films, who will they pass the baton to? Who will be responsible to carry their legacy? Perhaps no one. The reality is that this conversation is nothing but true.

Shahrukh Khan returns to the screen after four years of Zero. His last two films, Zero and Jab Harry Met Sejal, or even Fan didn’t really do justice to the actor, the superstar that he is. Enter Pathaan, which is a celebration of what it means to be the Emperor of Hindi Cinema. When Khan had first entered the world of films, he had wanted to be an action hero. 32 years later, his dream is accomplished. Pathaan is King Khan’s first full fledged action film, and I must say, it’s been worth the wait. Khan is fighting goons, almost in every other scene, and he does it with the stature that he is worthy of, with the same panache as he would play a Raj with. I don’t think anything needs to be said about him, in all honesty. Words fail when Shahrukh Khan performs, even with India’s politics standing against him. I read a tweet that said that people are reading too much into the political context of Pathaan, a Shahrukh Khan film, and that we shouldn’t. The truth is that SRK’s battle against the government, people marching into shows of the film, tearing down posters is nothing but political. And Pathaan is a political and cinematic victory.

What makes SRK’s performance different from Tiger (Salman Khan in Ek Tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai) and Kabir (Hrithik Roshan in War) is that SRK isn’t afraid to make his larger than life character vulnerable and even romantic. He is one of the very few male actors who delves into the feminine aspects of his character too, and that shows his security as an actor, even person. So when he comes across ISI Agent Rubina (played by Deepika Padukone), you know that by the end of the film, he would’ve successfully made her think about the choices she has made, will make. Well, that’s Shahrukh Khan’s charm. Whether it’s a romantic film or an action film, he is here to win, always.

Pathaan isn’t the perfect film though. The screenplay wobbles, a bit too much. The film moves across continents and director Siddharth Anand cannot seem to hold things in place. There’s too much on the table and as a result not everything lands correctly. The VFX too is shaky. I believe the scene where SRK and John Abraham are fighting while flying in the air, that Deepika Padukone can ice skate faster than John Abraham can ride a bike – I am one of those who takes in all insanity, but not when the visuals aren’t upto the mark.

What stays consistent are the performances. SRK, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone and Dimple Kapadia – they’re all fantastic. John Abraham, after a series of mediocre films, finally gets his due as the rugged villain. Deepika Padukone is good with the material that she’s been given, but I wish she had more to do. Unlike Vaani Kapoor in War, Padukone isn’t just eye candy. I hope there’s a YRF spyverse film about her character. But the best of the lot, for me, has to be Dimple Kapadia. She walks through the film as if it’s the easiest thing she’s done, this is her best performance in recent times.

Having said all of this, Pathaan isn’t a cinematic genius, not that it ever aims to be. All it wants to be is an SRK film in full capacity and on that front, it delivers!

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