A confident (yet egoistic) Patty embarks on a mission to infiltrate Pakistani territory to extract his teammate. A little love angle with a forced patriarchal narrative along with eye-catching visuals – is what Fighter is all about.

The film starts with promising entry sequences introducing Minnie (Deepika Padukone) and Patty (Hrithik Roshan) in contrasting lights hinting to the inexorable romance between the two. The hostility of CO Jaisingh (Anil Kapoor) towards Patty points out to some unresolved issues between the two in the past which is gradually revealed in the story. The film opens on a light note displaying militia camaraderie and strength and slowly builds on a revenge-driven narrative.

The purpose that Fighter tends to achieve remains rather ambiguous – is it showing the mighty power of the Indian Armed Forces? Or justifying the motive of war and revenge for the sake of politics? Even with engaging visuals and interactive background score that will invoke a sense of patriotism within the audience, the narrative is debilitating with unending bloodshed justified in the name of nationalism. Does the movie take a stand on the changing diplomacy of India? It is hard to say. But it definitely does not waver away from the overly-repetitive India-Pak narratives like any other Siddharth Anand film making it too predictive. At some point, it is both repetitive and ambitious in resonating with URI: The Surgical Strike while providing Maverick-like aerial stunts and visuals.

After an entire year of spy-driven plots focussed on the Indo-Pak rivalry in 2023 (Pathaan, Tiger 3, Gadar 2), the genre seems too over-utilised and boring. The military narratives have been somehow reduced to the power struggle between the two countries without any retrospection of the genre of war and conflict as we used to witness in earlier films like Tango Charlie, Lakshya, Zameen, etc.

The chemistry between Padukone and Roshan is undying yet wasted in a forced romance sequence. The little banters between the two are playful in making the movie entertaining. Yet the dialogues remain rather cringe and cliché. Roshan, Padukone and Kapoor deliver promising performances, especially the emotional scenes utilise the true potential of the actors. Padukone is charming as ever, exhibiting a powerful female figure, despite being embedded in a rather masculine narrative. To be fair, the patriarchal sequence was rather ironical departing from the true essence of the film making it less effective and more forced.

In all, this is a mayday for war-driven films that need to explore different approaches to the genre. Watch it in the cinemas for a light patriotic watch on account of Republic Day weekend or wait till it hits the OTT – any way it doesn’t get any better than a swift amalgamation of URI and Top Gun narratives and visuals.


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