Pathaan’s trailer might just be two and a half minutes long but it was enough for SRKians – as fans of Shah Rukh Khan call themselves – to dedicate scores of Twitter threads and Youtube videos to speculate about the film’s plot. We’ll know whether Pathaan’s writer Shridhar Raghavan could have taken a leaf out of the fan theories once the film is out tomorrow, but for now, here are five prophecies about the plot of Shah Rukh Khan’s upcoming release.
While Deepika Padukone might have made her Hollywood debut with an action role (XXX: Return of the Xander Cage), Pathaan marks her first in the Hindi film industry. With around four action sequences in the trailer, Padukone already seems to be doing more than most actresses get to do in this genre. However, it’s the exchange of expressions in a particular scene that caught the attention of the fans: Two minutes in, Pathaan (Khan) turns around in shock to look at Padukone (we don’t know the name of her character), who responds with a nonchalant shrug. This — along with a brief shot of her sporting a blonde hairstyle that’s remarkably similar to that of Bond villain Raoul Silva — was enough for netizens to speculate she might backstab Pathaan, and turn out to be a villain. Fans have also pointed to Padukone’s stature in the Hindi film industry – if there was ever a time to take the traditional sex-object heroine of the action genre and subvert her into a morally-ambiguous assassin, it’s now and the woman to do it is Padukone.
Pathaan, like the recent spate of Hindi action films, seems to be gung-ho about its patriotism. In one, Khan as Pathaan rasps, “Ek soldier yeh nahi poochta ki desh ne uske liye kya kiya. Poochta hai, woh desh ke liye kya kar sakta hai (A soldier never asks what the country did for him. He asks, what can he do for the country).” The fan theory is that Pathaan is speaking to John Abraham’s character, who has been set up in the trailer as a dreaded villain. The standard trope in spy thrillers is that the villain is an arch rival of the hero, with both being well-matched in terms of background and abilities. Fans have speculated that Abraham’s character once served the country, just like Pathaan, but chose to ask that question — what the country has done for him — and strode off (possibly in those tiny white swimming trunks?) to set up his terrorist organisation, Outfit X. We’re convinced, by both the theory and the trunks.
War’s climax shattered many things: Ancient churches, illusions and a certain icebreaker ship named P62. This is the very ship that War’s hero Kabir (Hrithik Roshan) reroutes a deadly missile to, thus blowing it up. That explosion shows up in Pathaan’s trailer – for just a second – when Dimple Kapadia and Ashutosh Rana (reprising his role as the R&AW officer seen in War) seem to be discussing the incident with their team. We learn that the ship was named Asgard and that it has been destroyed by ‘Boko Haram’, which is the name of an Islamist terrorist organisation in Nigeria and fans believe the Bollywood version of Boko Haram will be the Thanos of the Yash Raj Films’s “spyverse”. While we don’t know if there’s a single, overarching villain, there are media reports that Salman Khan will have a cameo in Pathaan. Shah Rukh Khan will return the favour by appearing in Tiger 3, later this year. And both the Khans will show up, alongside Hrithik Roshan, in War 2. Brace yourselves.
YRF’s spy universe is exciting, and not just because it features the most ripped, macho men of Bollywood. Fans are wondering if Padukone’s character might have her own spin-off movie later in order to establish a more intricate multiverse – much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whose model YRF seems to be following.We have no trouble imagining Padukone as our very own Wonder Woman, thank you very much. To take this a step further, wouldn’t it be something if Katrina Kaif’s Zoya from the Tiger franchise could join Padukone? That said, we do hope no one comes between Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff’s bromance in War.
Fifteen minutes into War, Kabir reveals the rot that lies beneath his mistrust towards fellow RAW officer, Khalid (Tiger Shroff): Khalid’s father, Major Abdul Rahmani, had once betrayed his fellow officers, leaving Kabir’s partner dead. This partner’s name is never revealed. Cut to Pathaan’s teaser beginning with the rousing, “Zinda hai”, acting as not only a hat-tip to Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai but also establishing that Pathaan has been AWOL for a while. A fan pointed out that Pathaan might have been the partner Kabir presumed to be dead. However, the teaser also establishes that Pathaan had been missing for only three years, while Kabir lost his partner at least a decade ago, when Khalid was still a child. But what is a small, technical detail like that in the face of a fantasy in which Khan and Roshan are abs-flashing partners in bromance who save the nation (and the Hindi film industry) with their dashing ways?