Pathaan (2023) - Review, Explained & Watch

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Pathaan (2023) - Review, Explained & Watch

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Dimple Kapadia, Ashutosh Rana
Release dates: 25 January 2023
Running time: 146 minutes
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Budget: ₹225 crore
Box office: ₹1,048.30 crore
IMDb Rating: 6.4/10 (126K)

Pathaan, played by Shahrukh Khan, is a former soldier of the Indian army who had to retire early due to injuries sustained during his service. Despite his quasi-retirement, Pathaan never forgets his duty as a soldier. He has been diligently reaching out to other former operatives who were injured and forced to retire, but still have the passion to serve their country. He proposes to his senior Nandini to create a Joint Operations and Covert Research team, known as JOCR, under India's R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing), consisting of these operatives.

Soon, JOCR receives intelligence on the activities of a private terror group called Outfit X, led by Jim, portrayed by John Abraham, who is presumed dead after going rogue when his family was taken by Somalian pirates. Jim's group is planning to spread a deadly virus across an unnamed city in India, without any concern for moral or religious considerations, as they are motivated solely by money.

Pathaan is joined by Rubina Mohsin, an ISI agent portrayed by Deepika Padukone, in his mission to stop Outfit X from achieving its deadly goal. Although the outcome of the mission is predictable, the question is how Pathaan will manage to stop Jim and if the danger is true as it appears.

In the YRF Spy Universe, who is Jim?

Jim was a highly skilled agent who was held in the same regard as Kabir, one of the finest agents in the YRF Spy Universe. During one of his missions, he managed to rescue six hostages from Somalian pirates on his own. However, the pirates retaliated by kidnapping Jim's wife and demanding a ransom from the Indian government. Despite Jim's plea for help, the Indian government refused to negotiate with the terrorists, resulting in the death of his wife and unborn child. This tragic incident shattered Jim's faith in his country, and he vowed to seek revenge by making the government feel the same helplessness and pain that he had experienced.

Jim is a formidable villain as he was once a respected agent who went rogue and turned against the government. This cinematic duality adds depth to his character, making him a more potent adversary to the hero. A true patriot like Jim can only turn his back on his country when they suffer a significant personal loss, which is where the "fridging" trope comes into play. Jim is equally skilled and proficient in combat as Kabir (Played by Hrithik Roshan in War), which makes him an even more dangerous opponent.

What is Jim’s plan?

Jim's mission is to extract a dangerous substance called Raktbeej from a heavily guarded Russian vault. Although Pathaan and Rubina do not know the exact nature of Raktbeej, they are aware of its lethal potential and race to reach the vault before Jim does. Outfit X's rogue actions put both India and Pakistan in danger, leading to an unlikely collaboration between the two countries. However, this collaboration may not be what it appears, as betrayals are a constant threat.

Jim enlists Pathaan's help to steal a vial of smallpox virus from the Russian vault, which is kept in research facilities worldwide as a precautionary measure against disasters. Jim plans to mutate the virus and release the mutated strain in an undisclosed Indian city in exchange for money. The radical faction of ISI, seeking revenge for the abrogation of Article 370, is Jim's client. Jim's character is complex, not because of his deviated ideological beliefs, but because his methods do not reveal his allies. He may not have any allies as a corporatized terror group. Jim is meticulous and rewards himself with foresight, making it challenging for Pathaan to figure out his plans and stop him before it's too late.

What makes Pathaan trust Rubina?

Rubina is a member of Pakistan's ISI, and India has a complicated and hostile history with Pakistan. As a result, Pathaan is advised not to work with Rubina due to Pakistan's lack of diplomatic support for India. However, Rubina is a patriot and a soldier who values her cause and country. She was born to a journalist father who was killed for his commitment to the truth. Colonel Sunil Luthra, played by Ashutosh Rana, describes Pathaan as someone who relies more on his emotions than his logic.

Despite Rubina's betrayal, Pathaan trusts her because he can distinguish between the actions of a soldier and those of a terrorist. By having a character from Pakistan as a supporting role and giving her the same principles as Pathaan, the story shows neutrality in its values, which is politically significant. This approach lessens the hostility towards Pakistan that the audience may have due to the propaganda and reality of the situation. It also conforms to the right-wing ideology of portraying Pakistan as the enemy.

The story avoids the stereotypical Muslim-terrorist-as-antagonist trope by having the antagonist be a rogue agent instead. Additionally, by giving the terrorist a non-Hindu name, the story escapes scrutiny and shows that nationalistic pride is not tied to one's religion. Muslims are present in the spy universe, ready to sacrifice themselves for their country, and Pathaan's trust in Rubina's patriotism is confirmed by evidence, rather than implied.

Pathaan (2023) Movie Ending

Jim has managed to outsmart Indian intelligence and put the entire population of an Indian city in danger by launching an orb containing a virus on a passenger airplane in a covert manner. The orb is set to detonate once the countdown is over, and only Jim possesses the remote control that can stop it. Pathaan must race against time to beat Jim and prevent the bomb from causing any more damage. The Indian government is caught in a difficult situation with no easy solution.

While Jim has won the battle of wits, the fight has now turned into a physical confrontation. Despite Jim having several advantages, Pathaan's motivations are more meaningful than Jim's. This gives Pathaan the courage he needs to take the remote control from Jim and prevent the disaster from occurring. Pathaan's JOCR unit is reinstated and approved for an expansion, with Pathaan being assigned to lead the unit directly.

Does Jim die in the end?

In an ingenious twist, Jim is shown falling from a hilltop where his death seems imminent. He even gives his final farewell to Pathaan's "Bharat Maa" as he embraces his fate. However, there is no concrete evidence to confirm his death, and there is no reason to assume that the YRF Spy Universe won't bring back its antagonists, just as it does with its protagonists.

John Abraham is a limited actor and has not performed well in recent times. Therefore, his portrayal of Jim is not particularly remarkable. Nevertheless, Jim is a smart, powerful, and skilled antagonist who adds to the thrill of the story. Pathaan also belongs to Jim's character. In all likelihood, albeit pure speculation, Jim could make a return in future installments.