Fighter Review: Doomed Dogfight

'Fighter' takes you on a journey into the world of Indian Air Force aviators as they unite in the face of impending danger. The movie unfolds a tale of camaraderie, brotherhood, and battles—both internal and external.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

Fighter Review: Doomed Dogfight

Fighter Star Cast/ Actors: Hrithik Roshan as Squadron Leader Shamsher “Patty” Pathania, Deepika Padukone as Squadron Leader Minal “Minni” Rathore, Anil Kapoor as Group Captain Rakesh Jai “Rocky” Singh, Karan Singh Grover as Squadron Leader Sartaj “Taj” Gill and Akshay Oberoi as Squadron Leader Basheer “Bash” Khan

Fighter Release Date: January 25, 2024

Fighter Available On: Theatrical Release and (likely to be released on Netflix digital Platform)

Fighter Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi

Fighter Runtime: 2h 47m

Fighter Critic Review:

When a film boasts of a bloated budget, the one question to ask the maker is: Sir, why didn’t you spend a teeny-weeny fraction of it on the most basic essential of filmmaking – a well-written screenplay? The second question really would be, if Siddharth Anand and Ramon Chibb didn’t have a new plot, a novel way to tell their non-story or unique characterisations and situations, why make a film? The third: if Abbas and Hussain Dalal (with Biswapati Sarkar bagging credit for additional dialogue) couldn’t write a single new creative line between them, what were three guys signed up for to cram that one department?

In short, Siddharth Anand’s big budget, IAF-based film is a doomed dogfight. Shall we start with the dialogues that are indicative of the all-round creative block? Jaish militant Azhar Akhtar (Rishabh Sawhney) who knows more about bombs than any living person, talks to Pakistan’s army officers like they’re minions and the words that spill out are ‘jihad’. ‘azaadi’, ‘kaafir’, ‘Kashmir’ and ‘Hindustani khoon’. Wow, words we’ve never heard before, a conspiracy never brewed before and Azhar’s menace manifested in straightened hair and red eye.

On this side, no kafan as noble as the tiranga, sums up the patriotism of India’s best combat warriors. For humour, try, ‘How’s the gosht? Tasty, Sir’ and Sharib Hashmi pretending to speak Russian to hoodwink the Pakistanis. Cringe.

When the opening credits take off to ‘Heer aasmani’ in the background, it holds the promise of a comfortable flight. But it’s hit by turbulence almost immediately.

Look at the characters. Amar, Akbar and Singh are all present in the special team– Shamsher Pathaniya (Patty, played by Hrithik Roshan), Basheer Khan (Akshay Oberoi) and Sartaj Gill (Karan Singh Grover) led by big boss Rakesh Jaisingh (Rocky, played by Anil Kapoor). 

Siddharth Anand is in such sparkling creative form that he even adds a dash of feminism –Mini Rathore (Deepika Padukone), written off as dead by parents who insist that a girl should only get married and settle down. How can a girl become a fighter pilot? “Mini is married,” Patty tells them in a ‘surprise coincidence’. “Desh se shaadi ki hai.”

That one Mini track gives away Siddharth’s flight in a time machine that goes back to about two decades ago. In thinking and execution. He writes in another surprise coincidence – one NJ female pilot lost, another NJ female pilot flying into Patty’s orbit.

Patty himself is another ‘novelty’ – a super pilot who flouts rules. Gosh, never seen that one too, right?

Apart from frequent panic in the cockpit and Patty sent to a punishment posting but turning up at will to join the squadron for a teary funeral, the casting of weak, unknown opponents like Azhar and another unrecognised Pak pilot named Red Nose, adds to the lack of thrill in the prolonged dog fights.

Flashbacks are in constant use to establish bonding in the squadron and a bigger flaw is that there’s no room made in the screenplay to build up chemistry between Patty and Mini. The much-publicised swimsuit and beach sequence too is tucked away with the end credits.

The cardboard characters and the lack of originality result in gross injustice to Hrithik Roshan’s presence who is reduced to just a handsome hunk with his smile as his speciality – it can even win you a biryani from the next table.

Fighter – Watch Or Not?: It’s a crashlanding despite the effort to cash in on patriotic sentiments on Republic Day.

Fighter Review Score Rating: 2 out of 5

Fighter Official Trailer:

Fighter Official Trailer (Credit: Viacom 18 Studios)
Fighter Review: Doomed DogfightFighter Review: Doomed Dogfight