“A soldier doesn’t ask what his country ever did for him, rather what more could he do for his country.” The atrocious motion picture should have ended with the only good dialogue there was, may JFK rest in peace. But the makers couldn’t have disappointed their audience which can’t seem to have enough of the Superstar’s super-nonsense, so the film drags on for another quarter of an hour, segues into an inane song, and even features an after-credit scene where Pathaan and Tiger are seen having good time, where they talk about duly postponing their own retirements. All of this drivel, in the name of the beloved Bharat Mata.
Pathaan, the spy does need a shampoo by the time the film ends. Actually he needed a haircut or a thorough rinse even when the film began. Sex no longer sells in the name of cinema, but SRK is still the ultimate draw as far as the desi janta is concerned. Who watches such films, mate, have you wondered? What kind of creatures are they? The same trash that accept cash for votes, laugh at Kapil Sharma’s insulting slapstick, and were supposed to buy Nano with gusto. This is not an indictment of SRK, director Siddharth Anand or Yash Raj Films, rather a comment on the taste of the public that ends up filling more than a thousand crore rupees in the pockets of filmmakers by enthusiastically thronging to watch this shit-fare in theatres.
India is a country of icon-worshippers and fan boys. The film might be average but SRK is good, his fans aver, like Sachin was the only performer in the early-90s Indian side, or Lara was in the West Indies. Shahrukh could have done with a lot less hamming and unwanted voice modulation. The voice swings from ‘chalky conspiratorial’ when he converses with Dimple to ‘deep baritone’ in front of John Abraham and Ashutosh Rana, and often lapses into ‘chirpy twang’ when he gets to playact with Salman and Dipika. Why should a supposedly good actor be reduced to his own caricature? Why reduce yourself and the film to their dumber versions? The Box-office answers this vexed question.
Yes, the film is devoid of plot,is hamstrung by bad screenplay and has a jumbled storyline, but also inflicts juvenile dialogues, casual treatment, over-the-top unwarranted action and glaring tonal inconsistencies upon the unsuspecting viewers, who neither care nor understand. Needless melodrama and disproportionate causality hamper the storytelling. The film is not as bad as it could have been. If it were so, it might have turned into a laugh riot like Aap Ka Suroor, or Gunda. But since the film takes itself too seriously, it ends up into being a depressing yawn fest.
The film could have done with a less overconfident hero, just as the script required a less sure protagonist. It is not that Pathaan’s infallibility is irritating, for he has to obviously succeed every time for his side to stand any chance against intrepid foes. Rather it is his habit of pretending that the Armageddon scenario for his country is akin to child’s play in a make-believe video-game world, that mock at the whole premise. The film suffers from too much SRK-shanpatti and self-love, so to speak. Pathaan is a film about a spy named Pathaan who has some connection with the land of Pathaans. Pathaan seeks the help of the Pathaans who had offered him refuge at some point, and neutralizes the existential threat that looms over the motherland of Pathaan. It is all about Pathaan, and the film does not let you forget that, so cleverly (clumsily) are the dialogues written. But since his fans have lapped even this cringe, the makers need not bother about actually serving shit to the viewers.
It is not like there are no saving graces in Pathaan. Tiger Khan arrives like breath of fresh air and rescues Pathaan, the film and the spy, from lapsing into obscurity. He brandishes his gamcha or rumaal like a whip and swats Russians like mere flies. Salman does not forget to bring coffee and painkillers. The scene would have attained cult status if he had armed himself with popcorn and pan masala instead. Vimal Zubaan Kesari would have produced the whole film if the writer had made this small tweak. Dimple Kapadia actually manages to do act well in this mediocrity. I did enjoy the snow-bike chase scene, shot over the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Whatever happened to Jim Abraham though? Or did not happen? It is unreasonable to expect wood to soften up after spending merely two decades in Bollywood, for even two lifetimes might not be enough. Look at Tusshar Kapoor! John’s character ends up being named Jim in the film, for he could not have been given a Hindu, a Muslim or a Sikh name for reasons associated with protests and boycott. Why hazard the risk? Jim could be anyone – an Asthana, Abraham, Ansari or Atwal. Kabir is another such name which can be given to anyone to obfuscate their identity. YRF named him Kabir in Dhoom.
There is not much in the film worth boycotting. One can build a case around the use of the removal of Article 370 from Kashmir as the reason for a rogue Pakistani General’s decision to hit India with a biological weapon, but then isn’t this how Pakistanis are supposed to react? Dipika looks too skinny and drugged, almost anorexic, and exposes a tad too much of her thighs and pelvis to branded as sexy in Besharam Rang. I would have liked her to keep the legs wrapped for aesthetics’ sake, and would not have minded if she had draped herself in orange, yellow or green strings. I would rather that SRK had shaved and bathed for the song, rather than coming across as a shaggy dog. An Indian sympathizer in ISI, or rather a humanist, which Padukone turned out to be, might be a rarity, but surely such specimen must exist or have existed. Many agents of RAW have gone rogue, and defected over the years. That none of them has turned out to be as capable, driven and dangerous as Jim, is a different matter. All the rest is a video game of imagination, requiring immense devotion towards SRK, bad taste in cinema, willing suspension of disbelief and inordinate will power to begin, bear and finish this trash. I managed to do so in nine sittings over seven days. I don’t give a flying fuck as to how you fare.
A civilization built upon ‘celebrity fanaticism’ and lacking in discernment of kitsch from art deserves to become extinct. Pathan’s success is why I won’t mind another deadly pandemic striking us with deadly fury, or mutual annihilation by a Nuclear War between India and Pakistan. We are too tasteless to be saved, and too sheep-like to be allowed to thrive or proliferate.
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One Comment Add yours
Very good observation