Monday, July 15, 2024

Fighter Review: Visually stunning but is there anything new in the screenplay?

Prakash Gowda

Disclaimer: The review that you’re about to read does NOT contain references or comparisons to certain Hollywood film about a Maverick who ‘cruises’ through the skies. Heck, it doesn’t even have spoilers! And if you’re expecting lil’ nuggets of lines from Fighter or its ‘first twenty-minute screenplay’ like most of the reviews floating around, you can swipe this away, my friend.

Glad to see you reading till here. So, let’s begin with the review, pronto. Fighter, the latest offering of Siddharth Anand packs enough punch to keep you invested in the film, despite being as predictable as any nineties film you grew up watching. It’s the screenplay by Ramon Chibb, who has also co-written the story along with Director Siddharth Anand.

With the ‘Patrio-action’ genre making waves of late on the box office, Fighter looked promising right when the teaser was dropped and the inevitable comparison to ‘that’ film ensued. Fighter delivers what it promises – Thrills, frills and the usual drills that come with a movie revolving around defence sector. So, you have a dashing hero, equally dashing heroine, lovable friends, stern boss, stubborn villain and ‘supporting’ supporting cast.

The film does its best to show itself as ‘nationalistic’ as well as ‘secular’ at the same time. Maybe the director is trying his best to please the “left wing” as well as the “right wing”. Yet Fighter paves its way to your heart with its compelling narrative and stellar performances by Hritik Roshan as Shamsher ‘Patty’ Pathania, Deepika Padukone as Minal ‘Minnie’ Rathod, Anil Kapoor as ‘Rakesh Jai ‘Rocky’ Singh’, Karan Singh Grover as Sartaj ‘Taj’ Gill, and Akshay Oberoi as Basheer ‘Bash’ Khan.

The film clearly belongs to Hritik Roshan, who in a way, reprises his ‘War’ avatar at first glance but once you understand the character of Patty, there’s no room for any comparison. The actor gives it all to make Patty a character to root for, right from the first time he is reprimanded by his Group Leader, Rocky, Anil Kapoor to the last act of basking in glory. There are a few scenes that really stand out in terms of emotional quotient, apart from, of course the adrenaline pumping action sequences generously sprinkled over this lavish spread of a blockbuster buffet.

Deepika Padukone makes her ‘Minnie’ believable and the love angle between her character and Patty comes across as well-penned rather than scribblings on the margin paper, although the side story related to her father seems forced and unnecessary. When it comes to back stories, most films rely on flashbacks but here Director Siddharth Anand treads the untrodden path of blending past with the present in a way that you don’t see it coming the moment it presents itself to you. Kudos to Dialogue Writers Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal for their brevity in words, especially in the emotionally charged scenes of Hritik Roshan with Ashutosh Rana and Anil Kapoor.

Speaking of Anil Kapoor, the actor continues to regale the audience with his elegant performances, and the actor seems to be on a roll since Jug Jug Jiyo, making his presence felt even on the OTT platform. There’s a particular scene in Fighter where his character Rocky gives in to his angst and the kind of intensity in his eyes and determination on his face is something worth a mention. There’s nothing like too much Anil Kapoor in films of our times (Unless it’s an AK/AK).

Rishabh Sawhney is quite a find as the quintessential ‘villain’ Azhar Akhtar. The actor does complete justice, despite his one-note character. The issue here isn’t the backstory of Azhar Akhtar, but the key motivation for doing what he does but then that’s a little grouse you might choose to ignore, just like other few ‘factual errors’ that one might point out about the defence forces in India, as well as Pakistan.

Cinematographer Satchith Paulose seems to have a ‘field day’ shooting Fighter, with those wide landscapes and airstrips, war planes, sunny skies, and the mid-air clashes being made to look believable through technical prowess of editor Aarif Sheikh. The film moves at a pace that doesn’t allow you to check your phone (which is the ultimate barometer of a good film these days). Songs by Vishal-Shekhar is foot-tapping and songs like ‘Sher khul gaye’, ‘Heer Aasmani’ and ‘Mitti’ are sure to find their pride of place in your daily playlist.

To sum it up, if you are fond of action films with stunning visuals, Fighter deserves to be seen on a big screen rather than waiting for its OTT release and the 3D version makes the viewing all the more immersive experience. And by the way, the film does offer a hat-tip to Uri and perhaps a certain Hollywood film, if you read between the lines (frames). So, keep the josh high this Republic Day, as Fighter cracks the ‘Patrio-action’ code in style.

Rating – 5 out of 10

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