Updated March 2nd, 2024 at 17:36 IST

Operation Valentine Review: Varun Tej Lacks The Gravitas Of An Air Force Officer

Operation Valentine released in theatres on March 1. The film draws from the 2019 Pulwama terror attack and the IAF's subsequent retaliation.

Reported by: Aalokitaa Basu
Operation Valentine | Image:IMDb
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Patriotic fervour and its gallant cinematisation appears to be the toast of the season when it comes to theatrical trends. Varun Tej and Manushi Chhillar's Operation Valentine makes an attempt to jump on to that bandwagon. The Shakti Pratap Singh directorial, however, has gaping cracks to mend when it comes to the less than savoury final product.

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Hot Take

Operation Valentine's first impression is that it is a dead ringer for late January release Fighter, albeit a much more unsure, faded and under-crafted version of it. Shakti Pratap Singh's inexperience as a debutant director shows as the narrative fails to honour either the characters or the crux of the film - the 2019 Pulwama attack.

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Manushi Chhillar is particularly disappointing, proving that every eloquent pageant title-holder is not necessarily meant for a life in front of the cameras.

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Does Operation Valentine live up to the hype?

It would be wrong to say that Operation Valentine had no hype surrounding it in the runup to its theatrical release. The aggressive promotion strategy undertaken by the makers did go a considerable length in establishing the film as one among the major releases slated for March. However, it is now apparent that an all-guns blazing promotion schedule was not a strategic decision, but a preventive measure.

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Operation Valentine is a faded out version of Fighter

There was a lot that the Siddharth Anand helmed and Hrithik Roshan led Fighter did not get right. However, when it came to capturing the essence of the grandeur and nobility that comes with being Indian Air Force officers, Hrithik, led by Anand, delivered above and beyond. Not just that, Fighter's pulse, the 2019 Pulwama attack, was one of its biggest wins, managing to induce goosebumps and feelings of heart-thumping nationalism.

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Operation Valentine tries in this regard - but fails miserably. Hrithik's Shamsher Pathania was the star of Fighter but that never cast a shadow on the greater premise of the film. Director Shakti Pratap Singh, on the other hand, was clearly confused between prioritising Rudra's (Varun Tej) traumatic past (incidentally another beat similar to Fighter) and the overarching backdrop of the IAF, almost always picking the former over the latter.

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Varun Tej and Manushi Chhillar are miscast

Varun Tej and Manushi Chhillar are probably the biggest disservice to what Operation Valentine could have potentially been. One goes back to Fighter again for reference, where Hrithik Roshan leading the cast is what saved the film. Manushi may be new to the world of acting, but she is no stranger to the camera or the arc lights.

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Despite the same, the former Miss World, appears downright uncomfortable on screen, shuffling between trying too hard and then, not at all. Varun Tej on the other hand, is just there.

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Operation Valentine is a misnomer

One would assume that if a film has been titled Operation Valentine, the operation itself would be an underlying current through the length of the film. The audience however, finds no mention of the same till five seconds before the film cuts for the interval.

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It would have actually served Varun Tej in better stead, had the narrative been shamelessly center-lined to fit his redemption arc, both in the film and for his career at large, the latter being particularly pressing after the colossal disaster of his 2023 release Gandeevadhari Arjuna.

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Watch it or skip it?

If you really want to watch Operation Valentine, having seen some retaining quality in the film's well-edited trailer, just go and watch Fighter.

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Bottomline

Manushi Chillar's Telugu acting debut fails to take off - much like its Bollywood counterpart. Varun Tej appears to have entirely lost all his screen presence.

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The screenplay doesn't to do justice to either the poorly written characters or the promising premise.

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Rating: 1/5

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Published March 2nd, 2024 at 17:36 IST