The Pathaan phenomenon and the astronomical numbers it continues to be in news for might already have allured you to rush into the theaters at the soonest but just in case that ain't enough, this experience of mine as I write, should help you better.
Watching Shah Rukh Khan on the big screen in the most conventional and larger-than-life way possible was never a downer be it in any stage at his career. Couple that you with stakes that are multiplied by a thousand and that gives you Pathaan. Having had the chance to see the film, here is what I thought about it-
Fan Service at its Peak
Director Siddharth Anand is a master at giving fans what they want, as we saw in War (2019). But with Pathaan, the scale is bigger, better and bamboozling. Giving not just SRK but even John Abraham and Deepika Padukone a stupendous entry sequence is just what fans would have hoped for and that part is delivered. But obviously, it is SRK's scene that stands out the most not only because it is SRK but because the background score in that scene was supreme. It will remind you of Anand's choice for doing that with Tiger Shroff's one-take action scene in War. Nevertheless, considering these introductions take up a good chunk of the first half, you are quite sorted having been into the film for about half an hour. And hey, it is no secret anymore that the one and only Salman Khan aka Tiger makes an appearance in the film. I will not spoil it for you in any manner how and where but I have to say it is the perfect blend of giving fan service while also being self-aware and humorous.
A Constant Need of Suspension of Disbelief
I have repeatedly felt how people in general have been overtly critical to Bollywood with this treatment of over-the-top sequences that require you to submit to it without questions asked. With Pathaan, if you have any such preconceived notions, you need to get rid of them right away. You cannot be questioning the logic, the physics or even some plot developments - because the grandiose of presenting a global icon doing sleek action and looking charming while doing so is what matters. On multiple occasions, you will be lost in the plot twists which are predictable and underwhelming followed by a few sequences that are dragged as well but almost every time, you will be pulled back in with another high-octane action sequence coming in or just SRK being SRK.
Shah Rukh Khan - Man, Did We Miss You
He might have been over four years away from the big screen but obviously, he hasn't lost a beat. Khan, at 57 is better-looking, more flexible and most importantly, believable while doing all the crazy stuff than an array of actors in their 30s. Khan, unsurprisingly excels with finesse in all the mind-bending action and drama but what director Anand realised and plays to expertly is the actor's charm and wit which he is known for in real life as well. There are plenty of scenes where Khan's nonchalant way of mouthing dialogues and his signature humor will have you chuckle and even laugh. That is Shah Rukh Khan for you! Also, another reminder from the summary, DO NOT get up from the film as Jhoome Jo Pathaan plays and credits roll.
Deepika Padukone - The Mixed Bag
While John Abraham is just being John Abraham where he seems to be carrying his Race (2012) character but badder, the character and actor that left me perplexed was that of Deepika Padukone. On one hand, there are plenty of positives but on the other hand, there are way too many puzzling thoughts. The biggest prop I can give her and Anand is for carving a story that allows a female character to shine and have her moments amid the testosterone battle going on otherwise. Padukone gets a back story and a full arc as well but somehow, the way her scenes are crafted is what left me underwhelmed. The twists associated to her role, owing to being predictable, just don't hit and make you feel for her character as much as for Pathaan. Inspite of getting some kickass sequences and especially a brilliant one in the climax, Rubina leaves you with mixed emotions.
Pathaan delivers on its promise - sleek action, innovative cinematography, gorgeous looking people, over-the-top treatment and a cameo sequence for the ages. You might need to suspend your disbelief a lot more than you would have anticipated but even then, it leaves you satisfied and happy (even more because of the hilarious end credits scene).
Rating - **** (4/5)