Expanding YRF’s espionage universe, formerly led by Salman Khan’s Tiger and Hrithik Roshan’s Kabir, the film unveils an origin tale of an ex-army man turned covert operative Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan) and his adversary, Jim (John Abraham).
Pathaan review: A momentous cinematic event marking Shah Rukh Khan’s return after a four-year hiatus, Pathaan stands as an audacious action thriller that lives up to its considerable anticipation. While its narrative stretches credibility, the film draws strength from star power and stylish execution. Pathaan starts like a cinematic energy drink commercial but evolves into a progressively engaging narrative.
The storyline delves into India’s revocation of Article 370 and its repercussions on a Pakistani officer driven to seek vengeance. He allies with the formidable Jim, a former RAW agent betrayed by his own, and Rubai, a captivating former ISI operative with ambiguous motives (Deepika Padukone). Pathaan, Jim, and Rubai clash and collaborate, spanning continents in a high-stakes game of betrayal and retribution. Their actions shape and safeguard their respective worlds.
Director Siddharth Anand employs an extravagant approach to his spy thriller, infusing it with superhero sensibilities demanding a substantial suspension of disbelief. His fascination for mainstream Hollywood spectacles like Marvel films and the Mission Impossible series is evident. The film boasts Falcon-like wingsuits, grandiose action sequences, gravity-defying stunts involving vehicles, ice, and helicopters, immortal heroes and villains delivering punchy dialogues, and a femme fatale, all imbued with patriotic themes.
Action often overshadows emotions, a departure for SRK, who typically excels in romantic or conversational roles. Notably, at 57, he embodies a full-fledged action hero, employing his expressive eyes and physical prowess. His presence elevates an average script and subpar VFX. While the background score sometimes disconnects from the scenes, the music by Vishal & Shekhar aptly captures heroism and valor.
John Abraham impresses with a robust portrayal of Jim, making a case for a villain who occasionally outshines the hero. Deepika Padukone demonstrates her capacity for ass-kicking and embodies the dutiful, morally ambiguous double-crossing agent, although her chemistry with SRK remains underdeveloped. Dimple Kapadia lends weight and emotional depth to the narrative, evoking gravitas amidst the cast.
The YRF spy universe delivers a memorable moment as SRK and John reunite, offering an iconic whistle-worthy encounter. While some dialogues may seem frivolous, Pathaan is a masala potboiler enriched with slow-motion entrances, an iconic struggle between good and evil, and above all, a captivating Shah Rukh Khan, who exudes charisma on and off the screen. He continues to reign as the undisputed king.