Fighter (2024)

Fighter Review


Fighter Review: Deepika Padukone is a solid performer. She seems comfortable in this male dominated world. Anil Kapoor’s restraint adds gravity to the film. But Fighter could have used a more intimidating villain.

From the first of many, we expect freshness if not exceptional originality. There isn’t a single peak Fighter can scale. It was directed and co-produced by Siddharth Anand (War, Pathaan), an aerial action thriller that struggles to get off its flat trajectory.

For us, mere mortals who are neither Hrithik Roshan fans nor eternal admirers of Bollywood’s idea of a war film, the challenge is to fight the overwhelming ennui that quickly sets in and drags the film down with it. But if Hrithik is enough of an excuse for you, Fighter might pass muster. That’s about it though.

Hrithik Roshan was Captain Karan Shergill 20 years ago a wanderer who found himself by joining the Indian Army. Five years ago he put on the uniform of Major Kabir Dhaliwal secret agent turned rogue agent type deal. Now he is Squadron Leader Shamsher Pathania man who jumps into tricky situations headfirst.

All three men mentioned above display incredible courage and self-assuredness when it comes time to take the battle into enemy camp territory or whatever. So once you’ve met one, you’ve met them all any of them would do fine as a co-pilot for this pilot stuck in autopilot mode.

The actor’s army/intelligence/air force personnel suffer from some monotony brought on by names and traits given to him which make them seem like different characters but really aren’t because they’re played by same person who does extraordinary things sometimes while also being pretty much ordinary most times even though parts of Fighter play out more realistically than others but still heroism displayed by male lead throughout entire film could be described as well-rounded even though not always logical given what happens around him especially during this scene where he flies dangerously close towards death without showing any fear whatsoever but instead looking cool doing it.

He is an arrogant fighter pilot who flings himself into peril without blinking. He is a smooth-talker who can charm two women out of their plates of biryani. He dances like nobody’s business when the mission is accomplished and a peppy celebratory number beckons. And he jumps into a cloak-and-dagger encounter with the villain when things get heated.

The ranking changes, so does the uniform and mode of operation but not the approach. That’s how Bollywood stardom works, of course. As Squadron Leader Shamsher Pathania, a hotshot fighter pilot who considers himself first and foremost to be a fighter then only after that a pilot or something along those lines, Roshan powers Siddharth Anand’s first entry in what is meant to become a series of air force actioners.

Fighter may not be Top Gun but it is well shot, edited and all that jazz. It will find its audience for sure. However, despite Deepika Padukone adding to star power quotient (which already includes Hrithik), the film feels empty-headed and hollow-hearted. The problem lies in its story it’s too much made up from other stories we have seen before.

The biggest cliche rests on the shrill bluster that offence is always the best form of defence (especially when faced with deceit). This instant revenge thing is why Fighter falls firmly within narrow confines set by most bollywood war films which are never more than just war fodder anyhow if you think about it because peace doesn’t sell tickets does it now

The human parts in here are the same old story. A sky warrior is wrestling with his own problems. An experienced Air Force man who had focused on teamwork has now to put up with this young action man. A female fighter pilot, whose father discriminated against her because of her gender, wants to prove him and everybody else wrong. A terrorist kingpin who wants to strike at India’s defence establishment.

Along the way, Pulwama, Balakot, Uri and stone-pelting are referenced. On all counts and fronts it’s a foregone conclusion. Shamsher gets his redemption and another shot at inner peace but not before he has had a series of setbacks.

Squadron Leader Minal Rathore (Deepika Padukone) finds the love of her life while flying high against all odds. Group Captain Rakesh Jaisingh (Anil Kapoor) is so strong about protocol that he keeps showing why he is such a good leader. And the evil big-talking terrorist Azhar Akhtar (Rishabh Sawhney) spews venom without let just to pave the way for a final extraction from across the border.

Basically, Fighter is about how these four get to where they eventually do. The 166-minute film abounds in dogfights and daring air sorties designed to demonstrate how brave these fighter pilots are especially in its first half. Some of it is quite impressive but none will have you jumping out of your seats in delight; there’s very little justification for 3D here.

Scripted by Ramon Chibb along with Siddharth Anand, Fighter comes into its own when it decides to slow down a tad in the second half. Its emotional high point occurs when Samsher meets Minal’s father (Ashutosh Rana) and mother (Geeta Agrawal) by accident only to impress upon them their daughter’s achievements.

Among the pilots in the Air Dragons team formed after the early 2019 terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama is Basheer Khan (Akshay Oberoi). He gets to spout what are by far the most patriotic lines in the film a repeat of a poignant and patriotically pointed couplet that Shamsher recites early in the film.

Fighter is also about enduring bromance between Shamsher and his Air Force Academy batchmate Sartaj Gill (Karan Singh Grover). The relationship between two fighter pilots and between Shamsher and Sartaj’s wife Saanchi (Sanjeeda Sheikh) lays the foundation for the climax of the film. However, the bromance here is largely one-man affair; Fighter is Hrithik Roshan’s film and he never lets him out of sight as far as screenplay goes.

The muted romance that blossoms between hero and Minal happens against a tragic backdrop. This provides Fighter with some respite because when these two are allowed to breathe, they do so convincingly.

Hrithik Roshan does his best to lift Fighter as high as he can. Deepika Padukone is solid and completely at home in this man’s world. Anil Kapoor’s restraint adds gravitas to this film even though it could have done with a more fearsome villain.

In the film, Ashutosh Rana and Geeta Agrawal perfectly understood their characters. They only have two scenes in Fighter, but those two are enough for them to shine. Karan Singh Grover and Akshay Oberoi are given roles that don’t necessarily make them the main characters. But they made the most of it.

Fighter is watchable enough. It could have been brilliant though if only it had lesser jingoism and more creativity.

Watch Fighter For Free On Gomovies.

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