Director: Siddharth Anand
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff
Isn’t it interesting that Tiger Shroff started out with a strategy that was a little too close to what Hrithik Roshan—in a seemingly organic fashion—accomplished almost twenty years ago? His debut film Heropanti almost exclusively focused on his ripped arms and torso, his penchant for the moves, and sending goons flying in every scene. Hrithik Roshan caught everyone unawares, with what he and his father devised in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. Hrithik had enviable, never-seen-before dancing skills (still does), and was also put to test in the martial arts skills by the film’s second half. Though the second half we can safely say now, is when the hilarious conceit kicked into play. But nobody cared about the story or the film. It was the music and the dance. So much that his subsequent films like Fiza had to be promoted with slow-motion shots of him mid-air, stretching his arms and legs in ways that might give a normal person a few cracked bones. Someone at the always shrewd Yashraj thought of bringing Roshan and Shroff together and knew what had to be done to get maximum mileage out of this endeavour. The unsurprising part is that they pull it off for the most part.
That director Siddharth Anand and his co-writer Shridhar Raghavan chose not to shy away from a generous infusion of homoeroticism is a welcome move. Roshan as Kabir plays the master and Shroff as Khalid, his apprentice. The theatre sure did erupt when Kabir in all his suave glory stepped out of a helicopter along with his team. But the more unabashed love and adoration can be found in Khalid’s eyes, to the extent that we are not sure if he is gauging the myth behind this legendary Indian spy or is simply in awe of his body. A whole lot of scenes are dedicated to this. As if Tiger Shroff is looking at Hrithik Roshan and dreaming of speaking the words, “Aren’t you the real deal? How did you do that with one film all those years ago? I tried and failed.”
War is all visuals and action and breaking bones and exploding things. The plot is simple – Kabir has gone rogue and Khalid, along with the rest of the team, needs to stop him or find out why whichever comes first. But Khalid’s fondness for his man never wavers, at times even compromising his original mission. There is even a hilarious scene where they meet in front of someone else’s wedding bed. And the bride – their colleague, just married – says to Kabir that even now she’s ready to elope with him. A little inappropriate at work maybe but Khalid’s line and the smirk Shroff manages along with his reply is golden – “Get in line!”
War is designed in the same vein as Mission Impossible or its lesser, poorer cousin – Knight and Day (the remake starred Roshan – Bang Bang). We don’t know if Indian spies and secret agents really operate this way, or their offices and equipment look like what’s shown here, and in the league of such films, this is no Baby either. War is far more unapologetic in its comic book (in the old-world sense, the phrase probably means something else in the post-MCU world) aesthetic and it delivers on that promise.
Its promises are compelling action, a nonsense plot, and a league of twists trying to topple each other. People keep jetsetting from one place to another – Morocco, Portugal, Turkey, Kerala. All this with Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff’s lithe bodies, shape-shifting and contorting for all sorts of fan service – dancing, fighting or, simply, walking. (Add a Vaani Kapoor cameo too into the mix.) These secret agents take a break to celebrate Holi, they keep harping on patriotism that is devoid of Akshay Kumar levels of conviction, and Khalid, really, is the one-good-Muslim (with a literal and metaphorical blind spot nonetheless) of this film. But who cares when everyone is content playing to their strengths, takes nothing seriously and not trying too hard?
With John Wick and The Raid, hand-to-hand combat is back in vogue, which is why those are the sequences where War truly shines. The shootouts are more of the same, a couple of bike and car chases are overlong and tiring after a point. An action sequence inside a fighter jet is just plain ridiculous. There is also a subplot involving cutting off communication of all the soldiers deployed in Kargil and the border, and how devastating that could be. I guess they didn’t envision the state of the nation during the release of the film, when they were writing. It’s not bothersome but it irks ever too slightly when we think about it. But War also doesn’t want us to think. It has no time for that. It’s quick with its business. A little more of the gravitational pull of Hrithik Roshan-Tiger Shroff chemistry and it could have been a solid film.
The War review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.