Ahead of Pathaan, revisit War: New Bollywood’s modern action film | Bollywood

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If I had to put my finger on a specific moment in the early parts of Siddharth Anand’s War that heralds the film’s swag and style, and indicates that we’re in for something more triumphant than the forgettable Bollywood action fair – that would be the end of the first scene. Na Kabir (an endlessly watchable, ultra-smooth Hrithik Roshan with a remarkable command of his presence) has just shot and killed his own handler, we see him walking off a roof. Behind him, a flashing red neon sign that should read “Hotel Lotus” flashes the word “Hell” instead. It’s that cheeky moment, I think, that tells us we’re in for something more than the over-edited, blurry guns-and-glory action flick.

The rare Hindi movie that beautifully blends the scale and slick execution of a Hollywood action movie with Bollywood masala tropes and an unabashed celebration of stardom, War is the definitive Bollywood action movie of the modern age. And on this, the eve of Pathaan, it is worth revisiting his achievement. First, War is full of memorable set pieces – starting with the thrilling motorcycle chase in Portugal. But to me, none captures the film’s polished execution and finesse quite as well as the airplane set, in which Kabir shoots down a flight full of bad guys while it’s in the air. In another movie, you might imagine the same streamlined sequence without the same craft, polish, or rhythm, resorting instead to gaudy CGI and outrageous showboating.

Then, of course, there is the little matter of Hrithik Roshan. War marked the beginning of 2.0’s Hrithik, a transition we first saw signs of in Kaabil, which then came to fruition in 2019 with both War and Super 30. War marked the emergence of a much more subtle actor. A star coming into its own chooses the understated, embracing economy and realizes that less is, in fact, more. In War, Hrithik tears up the screen with effortless style like nobody’s business. More than any impressive set piece or fight scene, it’s Kabir’s attitude and presence that stick with you. Hrithik not only brings a brooding, arrogant swag to Kabir, but also instills a sense of humanity in the agent who puts the mission above all else. Not to mention that it has given us arguably the greatest Bollywood hero series moment in recent memory.

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War equally benefits from the winning Hrithik-Tiger chemistry, whose real-life disciple-mentor dynamic flows beautifully into the film. That’s why War remains Tiger Shroff’s best film. For once, he was willing to be part of a movie instead of being the movie. As Khalid, Tiger plays a real character rather than a desperate muscle machine to impress forever, looking for an excuse to sit back and break bones for two hours. Khalid works not just because of the honesty in his eyes when he looks up to Kabir (homoerotic undertones aside), but because he felt fallible and human. That’s why you feel for the real Khalid when you realize he’s been dead for years. It’s also just admirable that Tiger was willing to not only (partly) play the bad guy, but also play second fiddle to Hrithik.

Then there’s also the fact that War remains the rare film in Tiger’s testosterone-fueled filmography that really does justice to his impressive physical prowess without feeling the need to rely on hyper-processed slow-motion shots and over-cutting. Take his opening scene for example – perhaps the most memorable sequence in a movie full of them. The 3 minute continuous shot sees Khalid bursting into a room full of drug lords in a villa in Malta and cutting them systematically one by one using only his fists and scattered furniture as weapons. It’s an impressively executed single-shot sequence of pure hand-to-hand rampage.

At a time when the action genre within Hindi cinema is dominated by disorienting assaults on the senses like its hero Kabir, War was steeped in attitude, nailed down what it set out to do, and most importantly, did no more than it needed to used to be. . Turning our gaze to the man of the moment – ​​Pathaan, we wait and hope that Siddharth Anand once again works wonders and brings us the Shah Rukh Khan storm we so desperately need.

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