Pathaan Review (SPOILERS!): An Elderly Humanist Action Hero Who is Also Sexy!

I’m gonna spoil this movie, but you can’t really spoil it. It’s all about the crazy action moments and sexy chemistry and stuff. You may actually WANT to spoil yourself, so you can relax about any perceived jingoistic plot twists, and how the romance happens, and those stressful things.

Whole Plot:

This thing jumps all over backward and forward through time, which hides the fact that the plot is both nonsensical and kind of simple. I’m just gonna do it in chronological order. 3 years ago, a Pakistani general goes rogue and hires John Abraham (terrorist for hire) to destroy India. First step, John kidnaps a top scientist and is almost stopped by Spy Shahrukh, but then not. Shahrukh tries to track him down through Dips, a British-Pakistani doctor whose bank accounts were used to pay for the mission. Shahrukh finds Dips in Spain, searches her hotel room, follows her, and then finds John Abraham. He briefly thinks Dips is working with John, but then she saves his life and reveals she was undercover for the ISI but now wants to work with SRK to get the secret MacGuffin John wants to steal from Russia. They work together, they flirt, and then she betrays SRK and he is arrested in Russia. Salman Khan (as his character Tiger) breaks him out of prison and SRK starts trying to track down Dips and the other people who betrayed him. Dips left him a clue, and explains she wanted to be found because she needs help. She’s still ISI, was working to help John, but now that she knows he stole Smallpox from Russia and forced the scientist he kidnapped to modify it, she wants to stop him because it is inhuman. SRK and Dips stop John together, and then the Indian government arrests and tortures Dips. SRK saves her, and together they go after John again once they learn the virus they saved was a decoy. At the last minute, SRK defeats John. The government offers SRK the chair of his super secret spy agency so he can keep making the moral calls on his own terms. SRK thanks them, but says he has to do something first. Cut to, end credits song of him dancing with Dips in a foreign city!

So on the Jingoism scale, we start with Evil Pakistan. But then it twists to “Rogue General who hires evil outside contractor”. And Dips, our actual ISI agent, is moral and puts humanity above any country. Plus, INDIA is the one who arrests her and tortures her, and SRK has to rescue her and punish her INDIAN captors.

Best of all, John is the Big Bad and his backstory is the same as Suniel Shetty in Main Hoon Na!!! He used to be a top Indian officer, but then the country turned against him (failed to pay a ransom for his wife), so he turned against them. The most dangerous enemy is the poison from within, not without.

The whole attitude towards India is a little…shaded. John confronts the government with the whole “we don’t pay ransoms” argument and if it would be different if it was a POLITICIAN’s wife, and there’s no answer to it. The government insists on “studying” rather than destroying the virus and both Dips and SRK disapprove on humanitarian grounds. And of course, there’s the whole “torturing Dips for no reason” bit.

If we look at the overall YRF “spy universe”, that holds true. “Tiger”, and “Pathaan”, and “Kabir” are all super spies working outside the government. They have to make their own individual calls again and again because Humanity > Government. Good on you YRF! You have successfully created a spy franchise that is all about “my country, unless it’s wrong” as an ethos.

The other attitude that has come into this Spy Universe is “honor the older people who gave the best years of their lives for their country, don’t retire them”. The SRK-Salman scene in this film is really magic, there’s a moment when Salman reaches down to grab Shahrukh’s hand and pull him up off the floor and he says “Glad to have you join the fight Bhai”. And OMG, that’s what it is! Salman has been trying to keep the Hindi industry going, to keep blockbusters and big films and happiness and acceptance out in the world. And SRK has been in recovery mode, but now he is BACK. No more “thinky movies for myself”, he is back in the game, back to the big blockbusters that India really truly NEEDS.

There’s so many other good bits in this film. Like, the reason SRK is called “Pathaan” is because he went against orders and stopped a drone strike on a small Afghanistan village and the villagers adopted him. And the reason Dips joined the ISI is because her father was wrongfully arrested in the middle east and she wants to fight against that kind of injustice. Oh, and there are THREE massive mid-air fight scenes! THREE OF THEM!!!! NONE OF THEM LOGICAL!!!!

Really, just such a great movie. If you like SRK, and you like dumb action, you will like this film.

60 thoughts on “Pathaan Review (SPOILERS!): An Elderly Humanist Action Hero Who is Also Sexy!

  1. I like SRK, and I like big action, but then I loved his “thinky” JHMS, and on third watch I decided Zero was a good movie. I will take whatever I can get!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so so so good!!! Thrilled that you (and so many, many, *many* other people) agree. And yay for spoiler post going up so fast!

    I saw it twice yesterday – first show, then an evening one – and if I did not live so ridiculously far from the theatre that I’ve only just got home I would be going back tonight lol because it was that enjoyable.
    Stuff I loved off the top of my head:
    – it’s *such* an SRK film πŸŽ‰
    – the references/callbacks/in-jokes!
    – Deepika!!! I’ve wanted to see her do exactly this for so long. Goddess.
    – Dimple! The role, her acting, absolutely wonderful.
    – the range of moods and emotions πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰
    – SRK being given the opportunity to display his experience, grit, absolute mastery, everything, urg, it is too good and I cannot even.
    – what was I saying? Oh yeah. The action is such great spectacle fun too, love every choice they’ve made with it.
    – I’m someone who refuses to watch anything with Salmon in it unless necessary (ie, srk is also in it) but even I appreciated him in this and have to say, credit where credit’s due, it was a nice touch.
    – but back to: SRK on a huge screen! Looking so damn good I cannot even. Those eyes! The things he does with them! The astronomical power of his charm… how is he even real?
    /stopping now before this devolves into incoherent gushing

    Liked by 4 people

  3. That was too much fun. I gotta figure out how I can see it again. I’m currently incapable of organizing my thoughts into paragraphs so I’m gonna steal Twinkles’ list format.
    -Everyone in the theater screamed for SRK’s entrance and I got full body goosebumps.
    -I’m completely unsurprised that his big, bad-ass, action hero character is “more likely to listen to his heart than his superiors” or in other words a big softie.
    -When they were in the vault, as soon as she said “throw it to me” I saw the Raiders of the Lost Ark “throw me the idol, I’ll throw you the whip” scene in my head and actually said “No!” out loud lol.
    -I feel like I’ve definitely seen the “I don’t know what I’m stealing but I’m sure it’s fine… well shit” plot point before but I can’t figure out where.
    -I’ve been so thoroughly trained by Bollywood to suspend my disbelief that almost nothing bothers me at this point. I was laughing and clapping like a little kid through the whole jet pack scene. The one thing in this movie that I didn’t accept was SRK and Salman running up the train as it’s falling off the cliff for like 12 cars. Two or three cars I would have been okay with but not half of the damned train.
    -Definitely got Major Samar Anand vibes from the Afghanistan flashback scenes.
    -I’ve said before that I don’t love the Pathaan look but I still found myself staring at him on a 40ftx60ft screen thinking “good lord he is so beautiful…”

    Liked by 4 people

    • OMG, this is your first SRK film in theaters, right???? I am so SO happy you had a good experience. I’m looking forward to going on Friday when hopefully the theater will be fuller and louder, this audience was fine but lowkey. That experience of the roar of the theater as he appears is soooooooooo powerful.

      And now you can go back and watch his other movies and see how they are structured for theaters! Well, some of them. Dilwale, Happy New Year, they have that anticipation and then big reveal with a nice long moment for the cheers and whistles to die down. It makes no sense on DVD, but it makes total sense in theaters.

      Like

      • Yes! I first noticed it in K3G where they were playing the game of “how long can we get away with not showing his face” and then the big reveal that might as well have had ‘Applause’ written at the bottom of the frame. Actually hearing the applause this time was just magical.

        Like

  4. Even here in Finland, where the Indian audiences are a little more reserved, there were whistles and shouts and clapping in so many parts. Not a full-out party, but just the pure excitement of it all was catching! Can’t wait to see it again, this time more relaxed, since I know the plot.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I really enjoyed the movie especially because I HATED Zero. It was really fun and engaging, the main cast was great. John was not menacing to me but he was a fun villain. SRK had a lovely light hearted approach to the film which made it so much better for me. Like his expressions when he’s stuck just make you relate more to the character overall. Deepika was so good in her role that with any other actress would’ve just been like one face (this one :|) and did her action parts so well. My only gripe with the film is that I wished they made DP’s switch to the good guys a bit more logical as it just sort of happened and I was wondering the reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like they needed one more line of dialogue explaining Dips. She did say she was always ISI at some point, but I needed a “ISI assigned me to assist John but then I realized he was evil” explanation. So she was just following orders when she betrayed SRK, not actually working with John. Definitely the films morality was “John the amoral terrorist for hire is way WAY worse than a spy working for their country, any country”. So if Dips was ISI through and through until her final shift, then she isn’t evil.

      And yes, Dips was the PERFECT casting. She can do so much with just an expression, I felt like her character was a full fledged person that I cared about and that wouldn’t have come through with a lessor actress.

      Like

      • I definitely wished they went with your line of reasoning. As that was a huge plot hole for me that I couldn’t look past.

        Yes, Deepika was so good! The way she made the character so likeable yet strong. She really made a wonderful strong women. I really feel like she shines when directors give the actors more freedom other than someone like Bhansali. With Bhansali she becomes a bit of shadow of herself and struggles.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think it’s not exactly a plot hole, more an information hole? They definitely made clear she was ISI all along, but it was in like one line of dialogue that you could miss if you blinked.

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    • I was just about to ask the same thing! I really really want Deepika to have her own action movie so badly! And in line with the Pathaan-Tiger crossovers, if there was a movie with Deepika and Katrina, I would be ecstatic! I think they are both insanely athletics and can pull off action roles so well!

      However, I am worried that for now it is a pipe dream. Comparing this spyverse to Marvel, in the U.S. it took FOREVER for Marvel to make a solo movie with Scarlet Johansson’s character!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh you better BELIEVE I am working on this fanfic!!!! Something about Kareena as a former spy turned office worker/housewife? Who has to get a covert team together for some feminist covert mission that the boys won’t fund?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Even a tandom couple spy team, SRK and Deepika and Katrina and Salman – IF the ladies could have decent roles. I just love women kicking ass.

        Like

  6. I’ve been waiting for your review and I’m SO relieved. πŸ™‚ I watched the songs and mostly felt second hand embarrassment, honestly. I’m glad it’s fun and not jingoistic, and that the SRK/Deepika chemistry is in full effect, even if it’s more action than romantic. Still, as my 18 year old daughter said, “Why doesn’t he start playing hot dads?” πŸ™‚ Maybe in a few movies. Looking forward to Jawan with Atlee directing and my beloved Sethu as the villain. Though on that subject it will be nice to see Sethu playing something besides a villain again someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank goodness, this movie has a flashback to him as a “young man” in 2002. So he’s playing his age! Yaaaaaay! Just, an old guy who dedicated his life to his country and never got married kind of age.

      Also, hello! I was expecting/hoping you would show up for SRK release Celebrations. Go vote on the Most Mature Man SRK post!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Wait there are more bits I need to rave about (and my family can only stand so much gushing 😁)
    – The use of the fridge door! Excellent touch. Flashed me back to the convention-busting moment a young hero showed he was perfectly comfortable in a kitchen.
    – SRK playing the damsel to perfection, man, I love him. That sarcastic comment of ‘women’ while Deepika kicks arse πŸ˜‚ Any other actor making that joke is icky and irritating, but he carries the power to turn it into a fierce rush of satisfaction and pride; he’s so securely in on the real joke.
    – The *feelings* he displays. I may have said this already but I needs to say it more. Action hero who laughs and cries and banters and jokes and unashamedly feels pain and heartbreak is so damn good. Human. Connectable. And makes it so much more powerful whenever he squares up to continue fighting with that look that like, acknowledges and accepts that it’s going really hurt and maybe kill him but that nothing can break that spirit and conviction inside him. And oh I have such feels for it.

    It’s such a triumph, the whole film, the response to it, everything, no words can convey my squee. Seeing it again on Saturday since Mr12 hasn’t yet, and I love that we had to search through a few days and cinemas to find good tickets left (Aotearoa New Zealand and not a main city).

    Liked by 4 people

    • So so true!!! I was reading in another review about how Shahrukh is not about control in the movie. Even in the final scene, he’s sort of letting things unfold and not actively controlling it. In other scenes, it’s Dimple, Deepika, John and he kind of leaves this space for everyone to shine. Because he doesn’t need to take space from anyone to be the hero. The not dominating action hero. Full article here but it won’t let me copy – https://www.filmcompanion.in/features/bollywood-features/pathaan-shah-rukh-khan-and-the-art-of-killing-with-kindness-john-abraham-deepika-padukone

      I love how they kept the movie true to what Shahrukh stands for, for me. Feminist and not dominating and yet powerful and vulnerable.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a fantastic article thanks 😍
        And yes exactly! The power he has (and uses) to make everyone around him shine is pure magic and builds into something unique and indescribable. I absolutely love the positioning of him as the kintsugi gold bringing people together and making them strong and glowy, it fits him to perfection and I can’t wait to see what they do with it further down the line.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Even the fact how he convinced everyone to establish this new department and gave the head position to Dimple as his boss. I was a tad surprised that they started from him saying he’s done it and me thinking how and why. But it has this undertone of how he has power and respect in the department and he used it to pave the way for a woman boss who deserves it and may not have been able to get through the same red tape.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes! There were so many meta moments describing him as that magic that makes it all work. The only thing I would have liked better is if there was an obvious reason the rest of his team was retired. Just show the computer person in a wheelchair, or another of them with a powerful hearing aid, or something. Felt like a missed opportunity.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. How about the runner where he’s eating in nearly every scene for the first half of the film? So funny and the lack of it in the second half shows the turn toward full SRK seriousness from his more Open approach in the flashback.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Highlights for me –
    The way it showcases what makes SRK appealing and adds on to that. As you said, Anand seems to understand what makes him a star, something which his few previous films lacked. He looked great in the movie! Somehow the songs did not present him in the best light.

    The dialogues. It felt so good to hear old school ‘dialoguebaazi’, and have someone who can actually deliver the heck out of them. Not sure how much of it came through in the subtitles.

    The cameo- loved everything about it! Is it just me who thought of Jai-Veeru and Sholay? The banter and chemistry were *chef’s kiss* I burst out laughing at the blatant phallic imagery when they positioned and fired those gun thingies to bring down the helicopter 🀣

    Mostly the humor worked for me. Favorite might be John’s quip ‘Is this ISI or a dating agency?’ Could’ve done without the boob joke though.

    John and Deepika being given such strong characters. Wanted more of Deepika and SRK-Deepika.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes! The diologues were terrible in terms of “Realism”, but great in terms of punchy memorable lines, the sort of thing you can memorize and quote to your friends,

      Like

  10. Your gushing reviews almost make me want to dump Baby and the sick Big Boy on my wife – who is still coughing her lungs out herself – and go see an afternoon show. I just fear that I’d risk my marriage that way. And that’s just not an option, given that I wouldn’t even get to *dream* about marrying SRK in exchange.

    Like

  11. Thank you for all the Pathaan posts! I loved every minute of it. The theatre was packed, we were all whooping and clapping (reeeally not usual in Scotland) and my brother and his girlfriend genuinely enjoyed it. I was grinning for the rest of the evening. It was well worth the 2 hour train ride and overnight stay. I just wish they would show it in my local cinema so I could go again!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. OMG OMG OMG!!! That was sooo good!!! Okay, I have a HUGE request. Could you please put up a discussion post on all the Easter egg dialogue with references? My sister and I came up with at least 7-8 off the top of our head and I’m sure there are soo many more. I’m hoping that if we start this, others can add to it as they watch the movie multiple times! I am sure we missed soo many of them!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. There’s just something about SRK being back and being larger than life again. I think we have maybe till we hit 2030 before he makes that transition to filling the Amitabh Bachchan roles once Mr. Bachchan isn’t around to do them anymore.

    The movie was a total blast, and the meta post credit with Salman and SRK saying that the next generation can’t be entrusted with the responsibility yet was amazing.

    A lot of applause from my audience and the reveal of SRK having stopped the countdown was goosebumps inducing.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Out of curiosity, was Besharam Rang censored in any way for anyone? I saw someone mention that they removed some choreo and put a sarong on her bikini but it wasn’t the case in my screening, they kept whatever we see in the music video.

    Like

  15. Saw it yesterday and loved it! For the first time in Philly, I saw an Indian film where the theater was half full (first show on Saturday) and there were lots of cheers and whistles!

    The lake scene and the jet packs went too far, but every other moment was brilliant. I thought John was a bit of a revelation. But every once in a while when he turns in a compelling, charismatic performance, I think what an underrated actor he really is. He’s certainly an interesting producer as well.

    Loved Deepika’s character. Loved the big cameo scenes and I’m not even the biggest Salman fan. I came home and rewatched Ek Tha Tiger (forgot how charming the first half is, but the second half does go on too long at the end). Looking forward to rewatching Tiger Zinda Hai next.

    Also SRK has some of his best and sexiest looks ever in this film (the man bun works so well for him!). Up there with my favorite styling of him in Dear Zindagi and Diwale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the lake scene and the jet packs! Otherwise, agree with everything in your review. It would have been fun to have a little more of the John performance, it was a great character concept, playing everyone against each other with the only motive being to show them their powerlessness.

      Like

  16. Just saw it this afternoon, fun and huge as expected πŸ™‚. The theater (local mall) was nearly full, most of the noise came from a row towards the back, I was grateful for them. Kids and friend all liked it and had a good time.

    I agree with everyone’s thoughts about Deepika, the script treated her character with a lot of respect – fight scenes, agency in the story, no swooning. Compare her to Vaani in War or Deepika in HNY, it’s like all the men involved in the movie heard the feedback for once. I agree she needed one more beat of character development but Deepika sold the emotion and killed the fight scenes.

    John was very fun as the big baddie. I was missing a bit more of him and SRK recognizing themselves in the other, just the car scene gave us that, and SRK was all shock and had no lines. It’s the usual gray moral setup in the spy genre and they could have leaned into it a bit more somewhere in amongst all the fight scenes. Feels like that part is what they sacrificed in going so huge with the toys and action sequences.

    SRK was full on give the people what they want. (Including so much skin! Is that even allowed?? Anyone else think OSO when he did that full bare torso pose with the open shirt flying back?) He was beautiful, and the way they built the character around his persona without it warping the story or the film was excellent. I loved his hair, I loved getting to stare at his face doing all his subtle reactions, his action was strong and entertaining. Most of all I loved his voice. And…all of that said, I feel like Jawan and Dunki will have more acting and I’m looking forward to those. I wanted one or two personal connections between his character and another that went deeper – a scene or two with Jim that have us a Raees vs. Nawazuddin level of rivalry, or a “we are both broken by our countries taking away what we most love” moment with Deepika to make their loyalty to each other more emotionally grounded.

    Maybe this is why the end scene with Salman was one of my favorite parts. It was hilarious and also the friendship and the feelings came through.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thinking back to your post about, “did they do it but it’s not shown in a family friendly Hindi film” – did Shahrukh and Deepika do it in Pathaan after that scene in Moscow? What’s your vote?

    Mine is yes, they totally did it. It explains his blind trust, and shock and the reconnection afterwards. What do you think?

    Like

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