Fighter delivers everything it promises—and more

Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone and others in Fighter. Photo: Spice PR

When a big-budget extravaganza promises a lot and delivers much more, it is time to truly cheer. The immense face value and gargantuan scale of action and production values could have been rendered effete had it not delivered. But no action film works minus a story or emotions.

As a film and a story, Fighter delivers much more than, dare I say this with complete objectivity, Siddharth Anand’s previous blockbuster Pathaan, as well as Jawan, Animal and even Gadar 2. To state that it is his finest film since his debut movie, Salaam Namaste way back in 2005, is also a considered statement, so I have not forgotten his patriotic action biggies, Bang Bang! and War either.

Fighter blends the real and the commercial with a commendable tightrope act. Patty (Hrithik Roshan) is an ace fighter pilot, who, however, is cocky, arrogant and prone to disobey protocol. He is still the darling of his entire team, including his colleagues and cronies Taj (Karan Singh Grover), Basheer (Akshay Oberoi) and others. The new entrant is Minni (Deepika Padukone) who soon begins to like him too.

But Patty has a back-story—a tragic one as it happens. And that also involved his commanding officer, Rocky (Anil Kapoor), who is therefore quite stern and overtly strict with him. And Minni too has a distressing past.

In Pakistan, an ace terrorist, Azhar Akhtar (newbie Rishabh Sawhney, who looks menacing and acts so as well), plans to destabilize India and influences the Pakistani army. And so we have the action, reaction and re-reaction, to coin a term.

Meanwhile, in the best Hindi commercial film tradition, relationships and romance evolve, social comments are made and secrets revealed, a coincidence happens, so do reunions, and there are pledges to keep. The hero almost stays away from the climax, when his superiors too are forced by circumstances to break rules for results. Naturally, there is a huge patriotic and nationalistic flavor and fervor (which some deviant, holier-than-thou Indian populace called ‘jingoism’!), of course the mandatory parties and songs and dance, and of course, the spellbinding action all through.

The director and writers who conceived the film and its action, along with action directors Seyoung Oh, Parvez Shaikh and Sunil Rodrigues, must be commended for the impressive, innovative, imaginative and inoffensive (keeping in mind recent cinematic trends in Mumbai as well as the South!) action and must be wholeheartedly congratulated for their superlative work in that department.

The script is a perfect mix of commercial Hindi film appeal while supplying every other ingredient of the thali spread that every worthwhile commercial entertainer is. And, wonderfully, as I said, the film has its focus where it must belong, even as it dallies in seeming side-issues like old friendships, budding romance, a touch of comedy and the sequence between Minni and her parents. The camaraderie between the soldiers is so real it’s almost palpable.

Satchith Paulose’s cinematography is magnificent, no less, and so is the VFX by Refine, DNEG and Prime Focus. Aarif Sheikh’s editing is neither languid nor hurried and adds to the correct tone of the film. Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara score perfect background music, though Vishal’s and Sheykhar’s songs are weak and do not have any recall value for all the hype they have been given.

Hrithik Roshan, looking like an Adonis, is magnificent in all shades as Patty a.k.a. Squadron Leader Shamsher Pathania. Deepika Padukone has been showing continual growth as actor for over a decade now and that growth continues. She is immense in her expressions and body language and her best sequences for me come in the first half hour.

Anil Kapoor as Rocky makes use of his acting expertise of 45 years to deliver a perfect commanding officer, human being and brother. Karan Singh Grover is excellent as Taj. Making a huge mark are Ashutosh Rana and Geeta Sharma as Deepika’s parents. Akshay Oberoi as Basheer, Mahesh Shetty (Unni) and Banveen Singh (Sukhi) are effective in their roles, as is Vinay Varma as Commodore Biswas. In longer but simpler roles, Talat Aziz as Patty’s father and Sanjeeda Sheikh as Taj’s wife are endearing, as is the actor who plays Basheer’s father.

Do not miss this unique blend of the real and the cinematic. Fighter makes you wish every action drama was so perfectly put together. Its long length is not even noticed!

Viacom 18 Studios’ & Marflix Pictures’ Fighter  Produced by: Siddharth Anand, Mamta Anand, Jyoti Deshpande, Ajit Andhare, Anku Pande, Ramon Chibb & Kevin Vaz  Directed by: Siddharth Anand  Written by: Siddharth Anand, Ramon Chibb, Hussain Dala, Abbas Dalal & Biswapati Sarkar  Music: Vishal & Sheykhar  Starring: Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone, Karan Singh Grover, Akshay Oberoi, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Talat Aziz, Mahesh Shetty, Banveen Singh, Ashutosh Rana, Geeta Sharma, Vinay Varma, Mushtaq Kak, Sharib Hashmi, Ramon Chibb, Samvedna Suwalka, Seerat Mast & others



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