Pathaan Discussion Questions: So Much to Talk About! Not Enough Space!!!

Going for my third viewing tonight, but I think many of you have already lapped me in terms of how much you’ve seen it, and you’ve all pretty much done better than me in reading about it! So, let’s pool our opinions and knowledge šŸ™‚

The idea of Shahrukh being the gold that holds the broken pieces together, the one that gives us hope and magic, what does that mean to you? And how wonderful is it to find that in an action film of all places???

If you look at arguments of Shahrukh’s place in Indian film, originally there was a lot of talk about him as a star for women, not afraid to show emotion and so on. During the first big international boom of Indian film in the early 2000s, this shifted to talking about him as the “NRI” star. He made far fewer films playing an actual NRI than is perceived, but his attitude and the sort of stories he was in and so on played globally. Even more than that, he did ads, shows, interviews, etc. all aimed at the international audience.

After India’s turn towards fascist extremism meant SRK was landed in an odd place. Publicly hated at home and loved overseas for years, as films continually did well overseas while being boycotted at home. However, if you look past the propaganda, he was still loved at home. The crowds still surrounded his house, the streaming numbers (where you could watch SRK in private without fear of violence) were record breaking, it’s just no one was able to risk making a public statement in support of him. SRK on the one hand had no reason to change what he was doing with his stardom, his ad campaigns still made millions, and his films still did great overseas. But on the other hand, he was driven off social media by trolls, and the theaters in his home country were surrounded by protestors every time a film released.

What he did was just, kind of, stick it out and take it. While other persecuted celebrities retreated into hiding, left the country, gave up, SRK just kept going. He had faith that there were people, a silent majority, who still needed his message of love and acceptance. He put himself out there as a target and took the hurt again and again, seeing the same signs we saw (the fans, the streaming numbers, the overseas numbers) that he was doing something right. And now Pathaan has found a way to use all of that and make SRK a star for India in a way he has never been before. The Persona of Pathaan is a patriot who is broken and beaten and forgotten and unwanted, and yet he doesn’t care, he is still happy and ready to do the job he knows that only he can do for his country.

To my mind, this is the Shahrukh that he has always been, sticking through the mafia and the media and everything else because he just loves being a star and he loves India. But I think the combination of the political imprisonment of his son, and the desperate need of the film industry and film fans for a Big Star to save the industry post-pandemic, has let the rest of the world see this SRK too.

Did Deepika and SRK have sex in Russia after their Pathaan conversation?

In some ways, I feel like this is moot because her letting him change her bandage (physical vulnerability) and him revealing why he is Pathaan (emotional vulnerability) gave them a closeness equivalent to sex. However, if I had to vote, I think I would say that yes they had sex. And I would further say that this is probably an unusual occurrence in their Spy Lives. Not something that NEVER happened, but both of them are so dedicated to their jobs and shadow world that they wouldn’t often allow for this kind of connection. I would further say that Dips started to flirt just to throw SRK off the scent and hide that she is planning to betray him, but the Pathaan story changed things and gave her real feelings.

What is the difference between John and SRK?

In their first meeting, John describes India as his “lover” while it is SRK’s “mother”. In their last meeting, SRK quotes Kennedy with “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. But on the other hand, when SRK learns John’s backstory, he challenges the idea that there was “nothing” they could have done to save his family. I think the argument is a bit complicated. SRK is saying that you should be grateful for what you have already gotten from your country and not necessarily expect more, that you should just keep on keeping on and never give up on it no matter what it does to you. But he is also saying “yeah, this is wrong. The country is broken, the system is broken.” That’s what’s different, everyone else sees John as evil for even complaining. SRK says “it’s okay to point out what’s wrong, it’s okay to complain, just don’t then give up and become what you hate. Instead, buckle down and try to keep working to make it better”.

What is the importance of the SRK-Salman end credits scene?

One of the commentators (sorry, not sure who) said they read in an interview that Adi himself wrote this scene. That makes sense to me. Back in 1995, Adi re-invented the Indian film hero for a global audience with DDLJ. In his next film, he re-invented Amitabh Bachchan as an elder statesman actor. In his next, he re-invented SRK again as the romantic hero with a stable husband at the center. And this is another re-invention. After years of complaints about the Khans “trying to be young” or “making themselves into heroes”, Adi confronts that head on and says “look, these are old men, it is not easy or very pleasant for them to keep working, but they do it because there is no one else who can do what they do and we need them”. And it’s all TRUE. I myself have been saying that for YEARS, because of whatever media shifts, industry structure shifts, technical shifts, there is just not the ground for a Star of that level to grow any more. And yet without these kinds of Stars, Indian film as we know it will cease to exist, has already begun to cease to exist (all those clever niche low budget streaming movies, all those multiplex Hinglish language films). I don’t know how the argument of “egotistical old men who want to kiss young actresses” became the thing, but hopefully the fact that SRK’s son WENT TO PRISON helped counter that, helped make people understand that being a Major Movie Star is not a very pleasant thing to be.

Why Dimple?

I mean “why” in a lot of ways. Why did they choose to cast Dimple Kapadia in particular? Why did they make SRK’s boss a woman? Why did they make her an older woman who would normally be retired? Why did Pathaan the character choose Dimple to lead his agency? Why did Dimple get the biggest hero monologue ending?

There’s a lot of layers here. Having a slightly older woman be SRK’s boss plays into his very strong mother-son dynamic, a relationship he can build on easily in films and draw out with just a few moments. Casting Dimple in particular is choosing an older woman who brings an attitude of career success on her own, modernity, intelligence, very different from the usual “mother” types, or the stereotypical sari wearing bureaucrat character. And SRK the character choosing to make Dimple the chief of the agency he formed shows a basic humiliaty in his personality (as pointed out by a commentator, sorry can’t remember who).

Why no songs?

There’s been an increasing lack of songs in films lately, trying to make them less embarrassingly “Indian”, trying to bring in the streaming audience or the multiplex audience, bad reasons. But I think this film is more of a throwback. Not all films have had a ton of songs, ever. The grittier more thoughtful action films in particular have often been almost song-free. Zanjeer only had 5 songs, none of them by Amitabh, none of them (except perhaps Pran’s “Mere Yaar”) plot relevant. For this film, I don’t feel like they “cut” songs that should have been there, I feel like it was the kind of hard driving fast paced movie that truly only needed one song.

Why so many helicopters?

I have no idea but their certainly were a lot of them!


27 thoughts on “Pathaan Discussion Questions: So Much to Talk About! Not Enough Space!!!

      • I think the last SRK movie i watched in cinema was I don’t even remember. So I’m catching up after years, thanks to you I have been and to learn about everything that happened while I was absent. You’re not a bad fan, you’ve been carrying the torch in tough SRK days. ā™„ļø
        I can’t thank you enough. I feel like this blog is my SRK home


        • It might have been Don 2, just looking at the timeline of his movies. Or Dear Zindagi but I can’t be 100% sure, I was visiting India then. I remember I watched it early on so possibly was not on a streaming service?


          • But have you caught up on all his films in streaming at least? Jab Harry Met Sejal is LIFE so car as DCIB is concerned.


          • Yes almost all of them last year. I realized i went through a lot of heartbreak in the last decade and couldn’t watch anything with romance in it. I still couldn’t get through all of Zero, Fan. Haven’t watched Ra.One. The first movie I watched on my way back last year was My Name is Khan and I was sobbing for days.

            I forwarded through Dilwale to get through it. I watched JHMS by speeding through songs too, I read your analysis and tried to make sense of it. On the face of it, I had a lot of gripes with it. JTHJ also I fast forwarded through some of the beginning songs with Katrina.

            I liked Raees. My name is Khan was good in first half but I disliked the hurricane melodrama.

            I feel like I want to chat to SRK fans and wish we had a group chat like Slack or something but then I worry I’m the only one that would want it. šŸ™„


          • That’s how I have watched My Name is Khan too! Enjoyed it, sobbed constantly. Fan is truly Genius, but it’s not a fun watch at all. Ra, One is sort of stupid, but if you are in the right mood, it’s fun. JHMS, yeah, it’s a thinker.

            Have you done Chennai Express and/or Happy New Year? They are similar to Dilwale but maybe a little tighter written and better acted.

            I can’t figure out how to do a good group chat either! Whenever I peak outside of DCIB to social media, there is so much nastiness and anger out there it scares me back. So DCIB is a very small community, but at least we are all Nice. And I am afraid that if I get rid of the starter posts to sort of set the tone, that will go away.

            Anyway, you should join one of our watchalongs someday! We love our watchalongs and they are super fun!


          • I realized I don’t like to see Shahrukh with the modified jaw, it is somehow triggering for me.

            I did watch HNY and Chennai express on streaming and they were entertaining enough. I liked HNY more because again love angles aren’t my favorite thing at the moment. I liked that in Chennai express he was an older guy trying to break free for the first time. Didn’t have strong emotional reaction for me as I had to MNIK and Pathaan.

            I can create an invitation only group chat and then it gets to the people only on here? If you think that might be something of interest? It will be easy but it’s always questionable whether people will install a new chat app for this community. It could be an experiment as it costs nothing? A Google form and a slack community.

            Unfortunately I am on west coast so the 8 am watchalongs are very difficult to make. I moved here a couple of months ago and I still haven’t adjusted to the time zone. However, I’m usually not the person that can watch movies after waking up?

            Do you plan to do any in the afternoons?


            Liked by 1 person

          • Knowing this group, I think they are pretty unlikely to be up for a new app šŸ™‚

            On the other hand, afternoon watchalongs are absolutely a thing! It’s trickier to time them because folks tend to have more things scheduled in the afternoon. But we can definitely try to make it work!

            Liked by 1 person

          • I came to your blog last year with a different Username when I couldn’t get through the emotions I felt after watching MNIK. I also watched all his interviews i could find in the last decade.


  1. Btw Indians are so hypocritical, it was so common to have wives 10 or more years younger than their husbands. True even for my parents generation (and I’m a millennial). Vilifying SRK with a younger heroine is so meh. They don’t want to see older women, and they just want to put someone else down and feel good about it. It’s like creating a negative focal point to spew hate.
    Relatives and neighborhood people behave like this for people and their personal lives too.
    A part of India I don’t miss at all since I left 9+ years ago


    • Exactly. I wouldn’t mind it if the argument was “boy I wish we could see Juhi/Madhuri/Rani/Kajol/Whoever more often, I love older heroines”, but I really only see that argument here šŸ™‚ We love our older actresses here!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The idea of Shahrukh being the gold that holds the broken pieces together, the one that gives us hope and magic, what does that mean to you? And how wonderful is it to find that in an action film of all places???

    – I think for me the Indian film industry in general gives me magic and a sort of fulfilment that no other industry really has touched in my heart. Perhaps its because I am Indian and I grew up in also a very artsy family so this was my rebellion. I don’t think that’s it though since so many of you on this site also have this special connection with Indian films. SRK represents this magic of Indian cinema that so many others seemed to have lost. He’s someone who’s so educated yet is so unabashedly in love with Indian film or rather understands the impact it has on the common man. Also yes, it is wonderful to find it in an action movie but I feel action movie always are deep in some forms or the other as otherwise they’re not very memorable.

    Did Deepika and SRK have sex in Russia after their Pathaan conversation?

    – Yes, they did and that’s why SRK was so hurt after her betrayal. I think he really felt an emotional connection(which was probably true). Also I think this was something that has never happened to either of them which is why Deepika still trusts Pathaan and wants to help him.

    What is the difference between John and SRK?

    – I feel in general they are very different people. I think John would’ve been someone who really lived for the glory and the whole idea that people need him, that he’s a necessity. While SRK really just loves his country with all its flaws, his people and everything about it. It’s also mentioned that he was naturally quite methodical and cold blooded compared to Pathaan who’s quite emotional+ impulsive. It also goes back into the typical comparison of mother vs lover in Indian cinema. Where the family bond is stronger. So I feel if something similar happened to Pathaan, he would be more likely to become like a vigilante and kill people who had similar situations present to them rather than killing thousands of innocent people who were not connected to you at all. Some kind of undercover anti-corruption vigilante and improve the conditions for others.

    What is the importance of the SRK-Salman end credits scene?
    – This scene reminded me a lot of Top Gun:Maverick which had a similar scene with Tom Cruise being asked of his value as a senior. However, I think both these scenes also had a key idea present that is to value the past even if we’re moving ahead and also the value of seniors in this environment which the young is considered so precious. Infact these youngsters are often clueless and need someone to awaken their potential. It really goes back into talking about how we need to combine the modern and the past. Well that’s what I felt personally.

    Why Dimple?
    – She has a strong presence that while is comforting does not have the dramatics of a mother. This is important for her role of a senior RAW agent as she has the guidance and strength that can overcome. Also thank god that they had someone who’s actually older than SRK play his mother/mother-like figure compared to ZERO where Sheeba Chadda was younger than him.

    Why no songs?
    – Weirdly enough I felt this was a more Bollywood film than films with a proper 5 song album. Also loved that both the songs were dance tracks than those weird music-video montages. I mean action films traditionally don’t have many songs and this one definetley embraced songs compared to some that just have this weird background tracks.

    Why so many helicopters?
    – As SRK was working on getting a pilot license so he wanted to know everything about helicopter, like how to hang off them. DUH!

    Liked by 1 person

    • -One of my favorite SRK quotes is him saying he always enjoys any movie he sees, truly, because he would always rather find something beautiful than look at the flaws. He gives his all to every film he is in, every interaction, with no pride.

      -Aw, I like the idea that it was special for Dips too. She puts out such an aggressive sexual vibe, but based on what we actual see of her interacting with John and SRK, I like the idea that she puts up a front but also uses it to keep people at a distance, to not REALLY open up emotionally or physically. And SRK got past that.

      -YES! I like that idea, John is in it for the glory and achievement, SRK just goes with his heart. So when John felt like he didn’t get what he “deserved”, his glory was discounted, he looked for glory somewhere else (through destroying everyone and causing fear). While SRK would have reacted with his heart still, looked at how he could hurt the people who really hurt him.

      -The whole concept of the movie goes back to that, right? That this is a secret mission group of folks who were forced into retirement, who were considered broken somehow. We throw people away too soon, we don’t give them second chances.

      -I also like that they cast someone we KNOW is older than SRK. She’s not a character actress who popped up out of nowhere a few years ago, she’s Dimple, she’s been around since the 70s, she brings with her a sense of old school glamour and a nod to past eras of film.

      -I also loved that both songs, even the end credits song, were plot relevant!!! Without Jhoome Jo PAthan, you wouldn’t have resolution to Dips and SRK, a sense that they are still meeting up in secret and being sexy together.

      -HA! Perfect explanation.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Still good! Still better with each viewing as I have things to look forward to and know when to go to the bathroom and stuff. Usually after 4 in theater viewings, that’s when I run out of energy.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I saw it twice at my local Indian theater, they always have an interval. And once at a regular mainstream theater that almost never has an interval and, once again, did not.


          • Oh, near me there is a theater that was built by Reliance as a straight up Big Cinema but in America. And then a local bought it, but it’s still exactly like a theater in India. Samosas at the counter, big posters everywhere, all of that. It has 5 screens and usually plays something in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Hindi.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. I found two interesting articles among Pathaan related stuff – interview with the writer Sridhar Raghavan and Baradwaj Rangan’s review

    I love Sridhar’s influences – Manmohan Desai, Vijay Anand and Alfred Hitchcock! I’m always interested in BR’s perspective and he totally gets that at the heart of Pathaan is Hindi masala films. Very few people talk about this, all I see is comparisons to Hollywood action flicks.

    Anupama interviewed Siddharth Anand, yet to watch it. All I heard was that Shahrukh came up with the ‘boobles’ line, which… why am I not surprised?

    Agree with the discussion, don’t have much to add.

    Pathaan and Rubina in Russia – don’t you think asking him to change her bandage was part of her plan to seduce him? For that matter, was her getting shot part of the plan or is that where things went off-script?

    The way the dialogs were in that ‘lover or mother’ scene, for a moment I thought John was talking about him and Dimple being together, and I was very interested!


    • I was wondering about the her getting shot! If you start pulling it apart too much, we have half of John’s team getting murdered and Dips getting shot just to set up SRK. On the other hand, John is nuts and he took Raafe (his top person) with him when he left. So I’m going with, the plan was for Dips to kill all the baddies and save SRK, her getting shot was a surprise, but the real surprise was that SRK reacted to protectively to it which is when she started to catch feelings for him.

      Oh! Maybe the bandage scene was her knowing that the next day she had to betray him and she wanted one last chance at closeness?

      Liked by 1 person

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