It has been some time since I have submerged myself in a Bollywood epic; and I could not have ventured into a more appropriate tale, starring one of my most cherished Bollywood Boys: Shah Rukh Khan, gone is the dimpled, oh, so loveable, enchanting boy wonder, replaced by a man to be reckoned with; his sculpted style, redolent with mettle, scalds “Pathaan” with a genuineness heralded by iconic masters of the India movie genre. As a man and filmic conqueror he cannot be bested and “Pathaan” is now the highest grossing Hindi film in history. A must-view by lovers of heroic, pulverizing action, balletically graceful fight sequences and riveting acting. Fellow heartthrob, John Abraham, is cunningly nefarious as “Jim”, a man seeking revenge against his government, who deserted him, resulting in the sacrifice of his wife and unborn child. This film is filigreed with plot shocks, a multi-country landscape; commencing with a chase scene through the architectural nonpareils of Dubai, realized inspirational wizardry; “thousand splendid suns” of Afghanistan, kaleidoscopic hues of Spain, Italy, Russia and France.
Deepika Padukone sensationally transcends her previous roles, as, “Rubina”, a spy who never has to come in from the cold; capable, indestructible, enigmatic, she dominates and controls her every screen second; a triumvirate of dexterity, authenticity, and skill are Khan, Abraham and Padukone with a peppering of Salman Khan, an added cameo that injects joyous reminiscences into a thrilling scenario.
Director Siddharth Anand has dubiously dealt with the religious controversy generated by the Hindu/Muslim conflict perpetually percolating between the religions; “Pathaan” a sobriquet of Pashtun, indigenous to Afghanistan, generally identified as Sunni Muslims; garnishing empathy without emotional xenophobia of the “other”.
More than a culture, a vengeful narrative “Pathaan” roils with cosmic hubris, mythological might, impregnated with inordinate entertainment.