Fighter Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2024 | Action
Fighter has a contrasting set of emotions that make it slightly hard to digest. Despite the acting chops of its leads and its occasionally stunning action, Fighter zips through at such a high velocity that it hardly gives us enough time to register even some of its best moments in our heads.
Jan 26, 2024 By Sreejith Mullappilly

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Siddharth Anand's "Fighter" is an Indianized and somewhat tokenized version of the Top Gun series. Anand takes some of the best elements of that Hollywood film franchise, especially its second part, and fills it with a jingoistic India-Pakistan story. Expect no subtlety here. This is what most of us in South India call a "kathi" (slang word for over-the-top) film.

Fighter is what you get if you combine the subtle and visceral "Top Gun: Maverick" with the jingoistic "Uri: The Surgical Strike" and the unapologetically silly "Tiger" franchise. It echoes all of these films, yet it is none of them.

Anand strains to communicate the many 'beats' of this film about the Indian Navy members engulfed in dog fights with their terror-struck Pakistani counterparts. At the start itself, we see Hrithik Roshan's Patty pull off his version of the "4G Inverted Dive." A character calls Patty something along the lines of a "maverick." But Anand uses dialogues to further drive home the point that Patty is a maverick of a fighter pilot whose strengths are also his inherent weaknesses. The same goes for how Anand establishes Patty's ability to woo women just with his charisma alone, although Hrithik is a hoot in these scenes.

Similarly, Anand strains to convey the strained relationship between Patty and his captain, Rocky (Anil Kapoor). Despite Kapoor and Hrithik's acting chops, their relationship dynamic does not register beyond a point because of how unoriginal and over-the-top it is. I guess it is partly my problem and partly the film's that I cannot fully appreciate even these relationship dynamics because I am already familiar with these beats from Top Gun: Maverick.

As far as the film's politics are concerned, let me just say that movies like Fighter do not deserve our excessively serious consideration. Before stepping into the theater, you know that there are going to be ludicrously written Pakistani soldier and army characters bereft of any dignity and seriously lacking intelligence. But even then, you can only digest so much. In one unbelievable scene, a Pakistani official tasked with monitoring enemy infiltration plays a video game as the enemy crosses the LOC. What happens afterwards is even more ludicrous. Do you expect us to believe that these officials are so dumb?

As for the film's sensibilities, Fighter showcases a dichotomy of emotions that makes it a little hard to digest. For instance, shortly after delivering a patriotic line to a Pakistani Army person on air, Patty grooves to "Sher Khul Gaye" with Minni (Deepika Padukone). I wonder how they find so much time to even consider and deliver plenty of dramatic dialogue during a dogfight on air. Nevertheless, it is an effective plot element for the makers to build on later in the film. And despite the preachy tone, it is a poignant line that Patty delivers with the sass of, say, Vijay telling his nemesis, "I'm waiting." But Anand's movie zips through at such a high velocity that it hardly gives us enough time to register these moments in our heads.

Now, let us talk about some of the best aspects of Fighter, because the movie is no write-off. Hrithik Roshan does the fights, delivers the punchlines, shows a great deal of restraint, and summons the right emotions wherever necessary. Fighter is a showreel for the star, and he simply knocks it out of the park. Deepika Padukone doesn't have much to do in terms of action in Fighter, but her character has decent depth and she performs it with convinction. On the other hand, Anil Kapoor turns playing to the gallery an art in itself. His dynamic with Hrithik's Patty is one of the better things about this film, although it lacks the subtlety of the dynamic between Tom Cruise and John Ham's characters in Top Gun: Maverick.

To be fair to Anand, the writing is not entirely bad either. For example, I like the fact that Patty's hero moment does not come with him in the cockpit but rather during a routine training drill. A scene where Hrithik recites a patriotic poem is gooseflesh-inducing, and the same applies to one where the Navy members on air greet CRPF Jawans on the ground by showing Indian flags to one another. There is also a great nod to feminism that doubles up as a clarion call to the Navy to include more female pilots, although Fighter is no "Gunjan Saxena."

Sreejith Mullappilly