Pathaan Review: Shah Rukh In Air, In Water, On Land, On Ice, And In Our Hearts

Prathyush Parasuraman

 To begin at the beginning, Deepika Padukone’s saffron sarong-bikini in the song ‘Besharam Rang’ has not been edited out or censored into a different colour. This is the film’s confident posture. That it has no one to be afraid of and no anticipated criticism that it must tip-toe around

A long silsila of action sequences is, perhaps, an uncharitable way of looking at Pathaan — as a mere collection of violence of varying intensities, in varying mediums, some on air, some on land, some on a truck or a train barrelling between earth and sky. There is even arctic water under crumbling ice sheets, briefly. Wings erupt in the clouds, as lungs balloon underwater.

Pathaan makes a distinction between the nation as a lover, and the nation as a mother. It is one of the most fascinating, provocative ways to think of nationalism. Jim saw India as a lover, and so when the country betrayed him, he resented the country. It is this resentment that curdles into villainy. But Pathaan thinks of India as a mother, and in this sincere, saccharine voice, the film tells us, while a lover can betray, a mother never betrays.

These sequences, even as they blare and bounce, are never tense. You never feel like the time is ticking. Twice in Pathaan there is a race against time, and in neither is the palpable existential angst felt. The edge of a seat is the part which will never be graced by a bum’s imprint through the film. But that might be fine, because the deepest imprint the film wanted to have was in our hearts. And that, it did.