YRF is building its own spy universe with quite a few spy stories rolling out of the Bollywood factories. It has become such a common usage and portrayal of the terms RAW / Spy. YRF Spy Universe is an Indian shared universe centered on a series of RAW / Spy action-thriller films, which feature various fictional RAW agents. It would be difficult for the makers to claim or flag one of these to be ‘the best’. Pathaan is an action thriller written and directed by Siddharth Anand; the 4th instalment in the YRF Spy Universe and is Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback film since Zero (2018).
In a recent interaction Shah Rukh had mentioned, “I came to the film industry 32 years ago to be an action hero, but I missed the boat because they made me a romantic hero instead. I’ve only wanted to be an action hero…” in that context, Pathaan appears to be a steppingstone, also gearing up for South actioners (read Atlee’s Jawan).
Pathaan ki Kahaani
Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan), is an exiled RAW field operative assigned to take down his old nemesis named Jim (John Abraham), a former RAW agent turned rogue, who leads ‘Outfit X’, a private terrorist ‘organization’, which is planning to spread a deadly virus across India, much more dangerous than Covid-19, being developed in secret labs. There is a back story of why Pathaan is called ‘Pathaan’ and how he decides to serve the nation. Ditto for Rubina Mohsin (Deepika Padukone) who plays an ISI agent, who has a back story too. Jim, obviously as mentioned above turns rouge, but why? And then enters Tiger (Salman Khan) to complete the concept of creating a universe of spies / RAW agents. Not to miss the dialogue when Tiger hints the audience that Pathaan will be seen in the next Tiger story. Also, a mention of Zoya (Katrina Kaif) isn’t missed to intermingle the spy setup.
Friends and Foes
The premise gets created and the audience is aware of the agenda but who is on whose side remains to be seen. It’s a fight between three spy agents Pathaan, Jim & Rubina. Each have their own plan and action but who sides with whom and what would be the outcome forms the sub plot. The story moves back and forth to amuse and tease the viewer about the goings on
The film begins with an interesting action sequence introducing Pathaan. The kind of action performed by Shah Rukh Khan here is a first for him with gravity defying stunts and a look that sets a promise to hold on to the goings on. Deepika Padukone is sure an attraction with the costumes designed for her character of an ISI agent who attracts more for her hot bod than her well-practiced action stunts. John Abraham looks taut to play a proper mercenary. But it is Salman Khan who steals the show beginning with his keffiyeh as Tiger, his mannerisms, and playful dialogues.
While most of the young fans of Shah Rukh Khan may be gung-ho about watching a Shah Rukh Khan actioner but he falls short and looks lost in many places. He gets support from Deepika Padukone, defeated by John and saved by Salman. It sort of dilutes his heroism as if he couldn’t pull it off all by himself types. Also, his hairdo puts off the character that he is portraying.
The storytellers of Pathaan have left no stone unturned in terms of presenting Shah Rukh in a proper actioner with Pathaan and his adversary Jim facing off mid-air with choppers, on container trucks and railway bogie, skimming over icefloes and under ice too, chasing each other down twisty roads and flying with engine propelled wings. Ah, so much action in one go leaving behind the importance of quality dialogues and plausible situations. I’m sure SRKians (SRK fans) wouldn’t complain though.
With not may compulsive reasons dished out from Bollywood, visiting the friendly neighbourhood cinema hall along with the family, watching a Shah Rukh Khan ensemble film once shouldn’t hurt.
Director: Siddharth Anand
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Salman Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Ashutosh Rana, Manish Wadhwa, Siddhant Ghegadmal, Gautam Rode, Gavie Chahal, Shaji Choudhary, Diganta Hazarika
Duration: 146 Mins