Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone are said to be the reason why the film turned out the way it did? So what is the reason in that?

‘Fighter’ Review: Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone Give This Action Movie Its Wings

The Siddharth Anand-directed epic brings together heart and action.

Hrithik Roshan as Shamsher

Siddharth Anand and action films are drawn together like a moth to the flame. His back catalog of epics testifies to this. That is precisely the reason why, when Fighter was announced, it was of little surprise that the prolific director would be getting behind the yoke on this one. Coming hot on the heels of the runaway hit that was last year’s record-shattering Pathaan, starring Bollywood sensation Shah Rukh KhanFighter was always going to have high stakes attached to itPathaan was the first bite of the Tom Cruise-esque apple and it landed divinely with audiences globally clearly hungering for more Bollywood action.

What is ‘Fighter’ About?

At first glance, Fighter seemingly plucks from the same fruit bowl as Pathaan, practically screaming that it is influenced by Top Gun. However, it quickly finds its own feet as it veers away from its lighter counterpart and opts for a grittier story. There is a clear intent that this story be taken seriously with everything from the aerial action to the lighter character moments remaining cloaked in a cloud of uncertainty. We then dive right into a terrorist threat that must be combated by the elite Indian Air Force: the Air Dragons.

The film boasts star power of epic proportions in its squadron with Hrithik Roshan as leader Shamsher ‘Patty’ Pathania, Deepika Padukone as Minal ‘Minni’ Rathore, and Anil Kapoor as Rakesh Jai ‘Rocky’ Singh. The supporting cast of Karan Singh Grover and Akshay Oberoi add hefty value in making the unit feel cohesive.

Almost immediately, Patty establishes his character as an arrogant but just likable enough person while, in contrast, Minni brings a warmth and confidence that allows her to take him to task on his attitude. Rocky sits somewhere on his own with an air of immediate respect attached more to his presence than his reputation. However, it is clear there is a tangible tension between him and Patty that adds a layer of intrigue. While vast in scope, Fighters perfectly weaponizes the magnitude of its stars and utilizes their shared likability to build a real sense of camaraderie among the squadron. This emotional investment proves vital.

The first half of the film takes its time setting the scene, relying heavily on powerful action sequences that win more on visual stimulation than depth. However, this is easily forgotten when the film takes flight in the second half with both the cast and story kicking into a new gear by ramping up the heart-pumping action.

‘Fighter’ Finds New Strength in Patty’s Character Arc

Hrithik Roshan as Shamsher

All the work put in by Anand in the first hour makes sense as these little threads successfully pull the story together. Whilst Patty’s face screams ‘carrying the weight of the world’ from his first appearance, it’s not until the second half of the film that audiences really get to explore the weight of his war trauma and how it manifests itself in the smallest behaviors. Patty’s lowest moments, his deeply embedded guilt and reckless self-loathing, are when we get the most out of the character, as he is confronted by the horror of history repeating itself. His tale of deliverance takes center stage in the latter half and this is what ultimately grounds the film, offering a point of investment beyond the classic good versus bad narrative.

In the midst of the Air Dragons taking down the rising terrorist threat, led by straight-haired villain Azhar Akhtar (Rishabh Sawhney), Fighter finds a way to organically tear down gender discrimination through Minni’s lense, a woman who went for her dreams despite being told by her father that the Air Force is not made for women. This is encapsulated poetically in her speech about how ‘we’re all the same in the sky.’ It is also supplemented by Patty later when he affirms that ‘the enemies’ bullets don’t discriminate based on gender, so why do we?” Much of Patty and Minni’s relationship is laced into the quieter moments, rather than the typical Bollywood love story. This makes it feel all the more authentic. Perhaps most vitally, though, the film doesn’t feel like it’s leaning on their romance. Instead, it’s a worthy addition to the whole.

Fighter inevitably struggles when the dialogue becomes smothered in superpatriotism and dances its way into the same India v Pakistan narrative which, at times, verges on tiresome. Given that the basis of the film is built around Azhar’s terrorist mission, a lackluster rationale is given to audiences behind his hatred for India making him believable but relatively vanilla compared to his on-screen counterparts. Mostly, he just comes off as angry. Thankfully, the film manages to pull audiences back by breathing new life into the narrative when it goes out of its way to challenge the archaic, prejudiced notions of terrorism being tied to a specific country or faith.

At times, it’s easy for the CGI to feel overdone, but the performances of the cast makes the stunts, even at their most audacious, feel plausible. Roshan in particular shines here, with much of his performance coming from his blinding green eyes, particularly during sky sequences. The subtle transitions in and out of point-of-view camerawork add to the overall experience. In its greatest moments, Fighter offers audiences an adrenaline thrillride through high-octane sky sequences and a heartier story about redemption in the face of hopelessness. While it will undeniably be a hit with action fans, it’s the narrative that sees it soar.

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