In a sea of jingoism, Pathan is a breath of fresh air. Yes, it is pumped full of testosterone and has that tired Indo-Pakistan conflict at heart, but thankfully the film doesn’t vilify an entire nation or religion. Thank god for small mercies.
Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan is a mix of a few Tom Cruise characters – there are glimpses of Mission Impossible and Top Gun strewn across the film. And similar to Cruise, Khan might be the last of the superstars of the Hindi film industry. The audience hooted and cheered as soon as he appeared on the screen – in slow motion, hair flying in the air with the perfect set of abs – a response that I can’t imagine any contemporary actor receiving. Nothing about this film is grounded in reality – you are here to watch a megastar be cool and kick ass. And watching SRK fight is really fun – he has a certain litheness to his frame that makes the action believable (something that is desperately missing in the Salman Khan cameo).
Yet the best part of the film is John Abraham, who plays the villain so well. His is the most developed character in Pathan (which isn’t saying a lot to be honest) and he makes the most of it – digging into the meat of Jim and making it easy for the audience to empathise with him. Abraham also makes for great eye candy.
Deepika Padukone gets the shortest end of the stick – terrible styling choices don’t even let her play the part of a Bond girl properly. Her actions are consistently undermined by the men’s and the little she did get to do came across as token feminism to me. For me, the film would have between better off without her – Khan and Abraham’s chemistry is enough to add tension to the mix.
The dialogue, action and bad CGI do make the film seem ridiculous at times, but Pathan is an entertainer through and through – be it intentionally or unintentionally.