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Yodha Review: Sidharth Malhotra-Disha Patani Are Both Fighting for ‘Best Action’

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

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'Yodha' Review: Sidharth Malhotra & Disha Patani Are Both Fighting for ‘Best Action’

I had forgotten how enjoyable nonsense can sometimes be. By the time a flight attendant delivers a kick in a saree inside a cockpit or a hijacked plane pulls a Tokyo Drift in Pakistan, you’re left enjoying Yodha for just how silly it is.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

Sidharth Malhotra in a still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

To the film’s credit (and I can’t believe this is something to be appreciated for but that’s the world we live in), it isn’t blatantly jingoistic. The Indian saviour still has to go to Pakistan to avert disaster because the security at Pakistan instantly crumbles in the face of the threat. So in comes Arun Katyal (Sidharth Malhotra) to save the day with his flying kicks and laser-like precision shooting. And, if you haven’t already guessed it, the film is set against a India-Pakistan peace deal in motion.

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The concept of Yodha isn’t particularly novel or refreshing – a disgraced hero gets a second chance at redemption. Arun, having lost his father (Ronit Roy) in the line of duty, grows up with a dream to join Yodha, a special task force. This is the anti-Animal father-son relationship where a seemingly healthy relationship is what drives a son to make his father proud. It might be a trope we’ve seen multiple times before but, I’ll be honest, it gets me every time.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

Ronit Roy in a still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

We first see Arun in action during a hostage sequence in 2001 set at the Indo-Bangladesh water border. Arun moves and fights with such speed that you never know where he will next pop up from. He, of course, doesn’t follow orders and likes to fight alone. Usko hero banne ka bahut shauq hai.

The first person he sees after he returns from the mission is his wife Priyamvada (Rashii Khanna) who is ready to give him an earful for flouting orders. Priyamvada, who works at the New Delhi Secretariat is the additional secretary and is thus part of the same bureaucratic structure that her husband constantly challenges. I was wondering if there was scope for some delicious Mr and Mrs Smith-esque drama here but the drama here is more Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

A still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Honestly, that isn't 100% accurate but the DDLJ references feel equally awkwardly placed in the film as well (except a ‘I don’t like jokes’ sequence in the end that I admit I hooted for). Now, we have a brief introduction into who Arun is (he is Tom Cruise from…well most of his films).

During a flight hijack at the Amritsar airport (I’m still wondering how that hijack situation ended the way it did), Arun finds himself stranded in a rescue operation. Stranded not because he isn’t equipped to handle the situation but mostly because protocol and an incompetent government official (and a target that just isn’t listening to him) act as hurdles. Naturally, the higher-ups in the chain of command don’t face consequences for the way things turned out and Arun faces the heaviest fire.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

Sidharth Malhotra in a still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

As I mentioned above, even the hijack sequence here is silly but not in a way that had me rolling my eyes. Directors Sagar Ambre and Pushkar Ojha do understand how to create tension – something complemented by action directors Craig Macrae and Sunil Rodrigues. The way they use space to show action is incredible actually. Most of the action takes place in the cramped spaces in an aircraft – including the washroom which I don’t remember ever being this big.

But then again, I was left wondering how everyone was so easily accessing the plane’s hold. Some of the silliness and lack of logic does get to you.

After this failed rescue attempt, both Arun’s personal and professional life is in danger and yet, he holds one thing closest to his heart – Yodha. So when he gets a second shot, you’re excited to see if the lovers will reunite (and if he will reunite with his wife). But the film throws a twist at you. This could go two ways – if you’ve given in to the film’s silliness, you will enjoy this immensely but if you haven’t…an exasperated sigh will leave you. I was part of the former.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

Raashii Khanna in a still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Will Arun win the fight with the system? Will this fight drive him to the dark side? Can Arun even be trusted anymore? By creating an unreliable narrator out of Arun, the film does keep you interested. But then the film starts its descent (I had to, I’m sorry).

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In the second hijack, a number of ‘characters’ are introduced but some of their character arcs become clear from the get-go. There’s a student pilot on her way to get verified with over 200 flying hours under her belt, there’s an annoying uncle, a suspicious doctor, and a formidable but shifty man. Everyone is supposed to seem suspicious but only a few do. But when the screenplay lulls, the questions at the back of your head become louder.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

Sidharth Malhotra in a still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Why would someone trained to handle crisis situations just get on a random flight because of a cryptic text? Would I personally take a free trip to London? Yes, maybe but if it came with the mandate that I literally might not make it there, I would take a step back and question.

And why is the plane, or how is the plane, doing somersaults in the sky? And what are the passengers up to in all this? Have they just accepted their fate and are now just flying around the plane in limbo or stuck terrified to their seats with little to no consequence? Maybe the film just didn’t have the space to explore all that because that would take attention away from our ‘hero’.

'Yodha' is currently running in cinemas.

Disha Patani in a still from Yodha.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Disha Patani as the flight attendant on board matches Malhotra's action – the way she performs fight sequences is arresting. Maybe there is potential for an action star there. Her dialogues too, fail to have an impact mostly also because they’re a little predictable. I would’ve loved to see more of Raashii Khanna – her chemistry with Malhotra was easy and convincing and so was her act as a bureaucrat stuck between work and love. The hostage negotiation scenes didn’t seem like the work of a professional but that too is mostly because of the shoddy dialogues.

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Tanuj Virwani and Sunny Hinduja, though in considerably minor roles, do justice to every scene they’re in.

Towards the end, everything becomes way too convenient. I don’t understand airplane mechanics well enough to tell you if any of it makes sense but going by their track record, it probably doesn’t. Everyone is picnicking till Arun swoops in, Arun’s mother randomly shows up in scenes. Nobody is as capable as Arun.

I was more invested in Arun and Priyamvada fixing their marriage than I was in the rest of the film and maybe that doesn’t bode well for the genre. However, there is something at the center of the film that makes it an enjoyable movie to while away time at. And sometimes you really just need to kick back, relax, and watch some nonsense fun.

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