Everything projected in the film ‘Fighter’ is predictable. You know where the director (Siddharth Anand) is going every inch of the way. But he wants you to read each and every signage enroute, because he probably thinks you have no IQ.

This he does with lots of expositional dialogue and emotional music that lacerates your heart to get in. It tedious and it hurts.

If ‘Top Gun’ (the 1986 Hollywood film), or its 2022 sequel, is a subconscious influence or an obvious inspiration for this aeronautical screen show, I’m more than happy to accept it because it has helped this film to get over the line. The rest is all jingoism and Jai Hind.

We seem to be joining the ranks of those endless Hollywood World War 2 films that glorify the constant bashing of Germans. Guess who is being bashed here? Come on. take a guess…

Patty (Hrithik Roshan) is the best air force pilot in the country. He does aeronautical stunts to prove it, much to the annoyance of his superior, Rocky (Anil Kapoor). Patty also has an attitude.

Then there’s Mini (Deepika Padukone). She is the best helicopter pilot in the Air Force and can also prove it with aerial stunts. She also has an attitude but not as much as Patty’s.

They both enter the screen in slow motion. You know where this is going, slowly – slowly.

Hero + Heroine - Attitude = Romance.

Their team consist of a bunch of aviators who have the best flying (not acting) skills in the country. While they are busy bantering on the ground and basking in the skies, there is a mean, muscled maverick with a red eyeball, Azhar (Rishabh Sawhney) who is planning a bomb attack on their air base.

Do guess which country he is representing. Come on, take a guess…

There are a couple of sub plots enroute, like Patty losing his ex-girlfriend in a helicopter crash which may have been indirectly caused by him, and Mini’s father wanting her to get married instead of joining the Air Force. All this with lots of emosun and heart lacerating music thrown in.

There’s not much to say here. After a lot of dog fights in the air, torturing of brave Indian fighter pilots across the border (guess where?), some military bases being blown up, automatic gun fire, hand grenades flying in the air, explosions, helicopter stunts and Red Eyeball’s cruelty, the terrorist attack is foiled, obviously.

For lovers of meat, Hrithik Roshan is a perfect dish. He looks tall, fit and handsome. He also, I guess, does not have the talent to overact so he’s pleasing to watch on screen.

We only get a glimpse of him dancing to a forgettable tune and that's a pity. Here’s one of the best dancers we have in the Indian Film Industry and there’s no memorable song and dance number to back him. Dipika Padukone is always a safe bet for any director. She does nothing wrong. Anil Kapoor is his competent self but is yet to match his performance in ‘The Night Manager’ (a 2023 web series).

Red Eyeball tries to look threatening and uses a bland, unmodulated, heavy bass voice in order to impress. He ends up sounding like a drone. Drones should be banned. Most of the cast members lack chemistry in spite of trying hard.

But the actual stars of the show are our Indian Air Force pilots, without whom this film could not have been made. The aerial stunts are well shot. Some of them are CG, I guess.

The manoeuvres in the skies are an absolute delight. The narrative in the dog fight edits could have had more clarity, though.

Mumbai got a glimpse of the Indian Air Force a couple of weeks ago at the Air Show 2024. The precision in the pilots’ formations was stunning. We, often, take our Indian Air Force for granted.

It’s unfortunate that much of the screen time was spent on emosun, Jaihind, tiranga and vande mataram. Surely, filmmakers realise that it's all a clichéd now.

True patriots don't need affirmation.

If the jingoism and dialogue-bazi was largely edited, together with half an hour of screen time, if Red Eyeball was a normal human being and not a wanna be villain, if the army across the border (guess where) was shown with more dignity, if much of the emosunal background score was muted, this could have been a ‘must watch’.


Director: Siddharth Anand

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone, Anil Kapoor

Screenplay: Siddharth Anand, Ramon Chibb, Abbas Dalal