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Updated January 25th, 2024 at 18:52 IST

Fighter Review: Hrithik-Deepika Film Offers Patriotism In Abundance, Depth In Short Supply

Fighter, starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone, released in theatres on January 25. The film is set against the backdrop of the Indian Air Force.

Fighter
Fighter | Image:X
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It is safe to say that Siddharth Anand appears to have found his niche. The director's recent filmography hints that stylised action and choreographed bravado are his expertise. His latest cinematic outing, however, the Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone led Fighter, may push you to see him as capable of more.

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Hot Take

For all that Fighter is not, the film will surely give you bang for your buck. If Anand gets one thing correct, it is the glory of being Indian Air Force officers. The nobility, as a matter of fact, is palpable enough to translate through the screen. It also helps that almost every character is played by a bona fide looker. Thankfully, the patriotic fervour - right in time for the Republic Day weekend - is not just mere tokenism.

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Does Fighter live up to the hype?

The thing about Fighter is, that the story leads, Patty and Minni, short for Shamsher Pathania (Hrithik Roshan) and Minal Rathore (Deepika Padukone), could be absolutely anybody. This sadly brings one to the understanding that having names like Hrithik and Deepika on board is simply a checks and balances arrangement to justify the hefty budget.

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Performances lack strength and the storyline falters on depth. That being said, Fighter is still quite the visual spectacle.

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Patriotism galore

Fighter's pulse is the evident reference to the 2019 Pulwama attack. The cinematisation of the collision induced blast is a painfully, goosebump-inducing moment, as is the slowed down aftermath. The impact of this segment in the film stays with you for long, almost making up for the ensuing bland bits to come. 

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There are a few other pride-swelling moments to look out for as well. Two highlights in this regard are the unit's helicopter crossing paths with a CRPF convoy as they both wave the Indian flag at each other and Patty's climax monologue about Kashmir, mouthed as he beats Azhar (Rishabh Sawhney)- the film's primary antagonist, to bits.

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Deepika Padukone's performance is a let down

Deepika Padukone's Minni, does not have much role except for simply being there. Additionally, she appears conscious on screen, something that does great disservice to the whole point of her character - the gender-discrimination informed social messaging. While Hrithik as Patty works towards emanating an eventual warmth, not lost on the audience, Deepika fails to make any impact at all.

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In her defense, there is not much for her to do, something that can be blamed on the way in which the character of Minal Rathore has been conceptualised. But then again, one cannot help but wonder why Deepika's recent career trajectory seems to display a marked move away from content-driven roles to a self-brand building campaign of being part of the biggest films, doing the bare minimum.

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Siddharth Anand steps out of his comfort zone

One thing is for sure, Siddharth Anand knows how to present his heroes. The aesthetic montages of the dashing unit going about their day at the Air Force base camp has an undeniable charm to it. However, the sheer amount of times these montages are injected as fillers feels like overkill, almost to masquerade the gaping gaps in a sturdy storyline.

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Why Anand feels so dependent on stylisation when he very clearly possesses the sensitivity and clarity to craft  something like the Pulwama attack segment in the film, is a question that is yet to be answered. The flair and pizzaz acts almost like a crutch, one he keeps rushing to in abundance, between gaps of some serious storytelling.

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Watch it or skip it?

Fighter is certainly a Republic Day weekend watch. You will feel the patriotism in your heart and adrenaline in your nerves, but also be prepared to feel slight frustration on the lost potential of a film that with some more focused direction, could have paralleled an Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019).

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Deepika fans, however, must take note - she is particularly bleak in this one.

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Bottomline

Hrithik's Patty will grow on you while Deepika herself is down right drab. Siddharth Anand very consciously tries to strike a balance between cinematic flair fit for the big screen and heart-touching storytelling - but the former evidently overpowers the latter. Karan Singh Grover deserves a special mention as the jovial and charming yet fiercely patriotic Sartaj Gill.

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Rating: 3/5

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Published January 25th, 2024 at 18:52 IST

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