Fighter movie review: Bollywood’s love for telling India-Pakistan stories on the big screen knows no bound. And the subgenre of war drama takes precedence, when the director wants to lace it up with an overdose of adrenaline and thrill. Siddharth Anand’s latest visual spectacle Fighter, has only upped the stakes in the genre, and mostly for right reasons. Also read: Fighter review and release live updates
Touted as India’s first aerial action film with Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone playing top combat aviators, Fighter creates an immersive experience and turns out to be equally impressive. No, it’s flawless, but honestly, the near perfect screenplay keeps you invested and engaged to a point that you barely focus on the loopholes.
Not having watched the Fighter trailer, but from all the buzz on social media, I went into Fighter thinking it’s going to be riding high on the sizzling chemistry between its lead actors, but I was in for a surprise, and a rather pleasant one. An ode to the relentless and undying courage of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Fighter doesn’t digress or distract, and stays committed to its sole intention — presenting a visually stunning experience and give adrenaline rush that lasts for pretty long.
Though it’s never explicitly stated which exact period the film is set in, but there are enough and more references to the deadliest terror attack on Indian air forces in Pulwama, and the subsequent strike by India across the border in Balakot. The film begins with Commanding Office Rakesh Jai Singh aka Rocky (Anil Kapoor) forming a quick response team comprising top AIF fighter pilots — Squadron Leader Shamsher Pathania aka Patty (Hrithik), Squadron Leader Minal Rathore aka Minni (Deepika) — to form a special unit called Air dragons. Together they display a great camaraderie, brotherhood and serve several fun moments while bonding with each other and at the same time, fighting the enemies.
The story co-written by Anand and Ramon Chibb offers a fine mix of action, emotion, patriotism, music, humour and a bit of romance too. Though I wish the way Anand has paid attention to minute details when it comes to action and execution, he had thought a bit more about the storytelling, too. The plot is intriguing yet so predictable and doesn’t let you feel awestruck on any big reveal. Dialogues by Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal are so average that it actually takes away from the impact the story could have had. I mean we have heard those cliched lines — ‘Time aa gaya hai Pakistan ko batane ka ki baap kaun hai’ or ‘Dushman strategy bana kar attack nahi karega’ — over and over again, and they no longer excite.
Stellar performances from almost everyone
Despite the story barely managing to stay afloat, it’s a smooth screenplay by Chibb that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you watch that spectacular air combat. Here, I’d like to mention Satchith Paulose’s cinematography that gets full credit for making Fighter a visual treat and a stunning extravaganza. The film captures some extraordinarily gorgeous locales and snowcapped mountain ranges that adds to the whole experience. Having said that, Fighter doesn’t suffer from pace issues. After a super engaging first half with a well-timed built-up, the film nosedives in the second half with portions that are forced fit only to cover the desired runtime. It’s only in the last 20 minutes then during the climax that the film picks up and moves towards an enthralling finish.
What’s definitely worth lauding in Fighter is the stellar performances from almost everyone. Hrithik is a sight for sore eyes. With his unmatched swag, chiseled body and glares on, he just owns every frame with so much ease. Whether it’s in the air doing all the aerial combat, donning the uniform or him just doing that stylish walk across the big screen, Hrithik is the strongest link in Fighter. Don’t miss checking out the hand combat between him and a terrorist on Pak land, which is one of the most well-shot sequences. Talk of Deepika, and she’s once again effortlessly delivers a convincing act. Having seen her do some high-octane action in last year’s Pathaan, I can easily say that she has taken her act a notch higher in Fighter and you won’t complain that it’s not just her glamorous avatar that gets highlighted here. As for their onscreen chemistry, the dance sequence, the flighting and a few emotional scenes are sure to make you go awww.
Fighter is a full-on entertainer
Karan Singh Grover as Squadron Leader Sartaj Taj Gill aka Taj and Akshay Oberoi as Squadron Leader Basheer Khan aka Bash are brilliant in their respective parts, and it’s good to see them having well-etched out characters pivotal to the storyline, and not just supporting cast. Also, watch out for heartwarming cameos from Sharib Hashmi, Ashutosh Rana and Sanjeeda Shaikh, who put a smile on your face with their couple of scenes each.
On the other hand, Rishabh Sawhney as Azhar Akhtar, the head of terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad brings freshness on screen with a strong introduction scene, but sadly, his character leaves zero impact as the lead antagonist. He’s perhaps one of the weakest negative portrayals in a war drama I’ve seen in a long time. There’s barely anything menacing or terrorizing about him barring that red eye, which, after a point looks like he got punched hard during some fight.
Fighter is a full-on entertainer that engages and excites in equal parts. It is high on patriotism but it never resorts to chest-thumping chants of Jai Hind or Hindustan Zindabad. The scene where Hrithik makes a reference to IOP (India Occupied Pakistan) in the climax certainly calls for loud cheers, and proves why Hindi films know best how to show love for their country. Watch Fighter for a pure paisa vasool experience, good looking performances and some gravity defying aerial action that won’t give you a headache but leave you with a sense of pride.
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone, Anil Kapoor, Karan Singh Grover, Akshay Oberoi, Rishabh Sawhney
Director: Siddharth Anand