Bollywood’s King Khan reclaims glory with Pathaan

Overcoming boycott calls, Pathaan pulls in record box office collections


February 1, 2023

/ By / New Delhi

Bollywood’s King Khan reclaims glory with Pathaan

Shah Rukh Khan in and as Pathaan (Photo:Twitter)

Despite facing almost unprecedented calls for boycott by fringe right-wing elements, Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan has managed to break all records at the box office, raking in over INR 6.3 billion in its first week.

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Pathaan Ke Vanvaas Ka Time Khatm Hua (Exile is Over for Pathan)”, says Nandini (Dimple Kapadia), bringing Shahrukh Khan to the screen as Pathaan. While the dialogue appears on the screen in the first 15 minutes of the film, in many ways it also rings true outside the theatres as Pathaan becomes a powerful riposte of Bollywood to the boycott culture that seems to have become increasingly common in India.

In the weeks running up to the release of the film, Pathaan and its principal star, Shah Rukh Khan, had been the targets of daily attacks by trolls on the social media, with all sorts of ‘objectionable’ elements of the film being singled out by the troll armies. Be it the words of a song or the colour of the costumes, everything was fair game for the trolls.

Despite such pressure, Khan held his nerve and kept on engaging with his immense fan base on the same social media, ignoring the trolls but reaching out with a positive message and maintained the release date. And his gamble clearly paid off.

Pathaan earned INR 210 million net on its seventh day in India, and the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer became the fastest Hindi film to cross INR 3 billion, beating the record held by Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’s Hindi version since 2017, which took 10 days to reach the mark at the domestic box office,” says Bollywood trade analyst, Taran Adarsh.

Record earnings apart, Pathaan hardly looks like an SRK film. Known as King of Romance, in Pathaan, he comes across as emotionless and goes through the strides in the film which is dominated by action, often mindless.

While the plot of the story finds its niche in the decades-long rivalry between India and Pakistan, which has already been used in numerous Bollywood films, the film succeeds in sustaining the gaze of the audience mainly due to this unprecedented avatar of Shahrukh Khan. Intense fight sequences, apt background music, and the VFX make the film more entertaining.

Directed by Siddharth Anand and produced by Aaditya Chopra, Pathaan is a Bollywood action thriller film which marks the comeback of the Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan on the big screen after four years. Written by Sidharth Anand, Shridhar Raghvan, and Abbas Tyrewala, the film tells the story of an exiled RAW agent, Pathaan, who has been assigned to take down a rogue RAW agent, Jim, who leads a private terror organisation and has vowed to destroy India. While Jim plans to spread a dangerous lab-generated virus across India, Pathaan is ironically helped by Rubina, a Pakistani ISI agent, during his mission.

Bevy of Bollywood biggies

While Shahrukh Khan plays the lead role, other characters are played by Bollywood stars, including Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Dimple Kapadia, and Aashutosh Rana. With this, the casting appears to be nearly perfect. Every character in the film has been allotted a territory to rule with their performance. Shahrukh Khan is charismatic as a spy and carries the film on his shoulders. John Abraham and Dimple Kapadia deserve due appreciation for their dazzling performances. Abraham, who plays the antagonist, sometimes overpowers Khan in the film. Although the filmmaker chose to explore Deepika’s character more than her being eye candy, she disappoints as an ISI agent. Salman Khan’s cameo as Tiger (Another Raw Agent) is a surprise for the audience as it was not revealed in the trailer.

The audience was mixed in its response to the film. Some were hoping for more, while some others thought it was just what they needed.

“I enjoy watching films a lot. I watched Pathaan yesterday. I had very high expectations for the film, but it did not live up to them. The film took me on a world tour with a poor storyline. I do not know how one could even think of Pakistani agents helping Indians to safeguard India. I was disappointed with Deepika’s performance in the film; she was clueless. One can watch the film once for the action sequences and VFX, or maybe twice if you are a Shahrukh Khan fan,’’ Prem Singh, a businessman from Ranchi, tells Media India Group.

But not everyone was let down, some were ecstatic. “Recently, I got the opportunity to watch Pathaan with my friends. The movie was one of its kind, starring Shahrukh Khan, making it a big hit. This movie instilled in me a sense of patriotism. Watching SRK going to any extent for his country gave me thrills. I felt a lost connection with my motherland. The movie left a huge impact on me as a person and as a citizen. I think everyone should watch this movie with friends and family,” Abdullah Khan, a student living in Delhi, tells Media India Group.

Unlike other Bollywood films, Pathaan does not have a long list of songs in it. Besharam Rang and Jhoome Jo Pathaan are the only two songs in the movie. The songs, composed by the famous Bollywood duo Vishal and Shekhar, have already become very popular on YouTube. However, a massive controversy had erupted after the release of its first song Beshram Rang, as Padukone was sporting a saffron top in the song.

Chase and fights around the globe

Pathaan is said to have been shot in multiple locations across India, Afghanistan, Spain, the UAE, Turkey, Russia, Italy, and France. While the scenes of the film are enriched with beautiful locations, it also has excellent background music to magnify the intensity of the film. The action sequences seem to be inspired by several Bollywood films as well as Hollywood films such as Tiger, War, Mission: Impossible, and the James Bond series. Although the camera movement has done a splendid job of capturing the hand-to-hand combat scenes, other action sequences appear to be far-fetched and poorly crafted. Shahrukh Khan as Pathaan has been shown in muscular and athletic ways, but the fight sequences lack creativity and uniqueness.

Pathaan is totally a masala film. It has nothing to do with patriotism but with heroism. Unnecessarily, it was involved in controversy. The visual effects enhance the story’s visuals. Sometimes, it seems the film is inspired by Avataar: A Way of Water in terms of visual effects. Characters in film speak many languages. This way, it tries to cater to larger audiences. It doesn’t deal with any national or international issues; it simply highlights them with masala,” Harinath Kumar, who teaches Cinema Studies at Delhi School of Journalism, tells Media India Group.



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