Starting off as the undisputed ‘khiladi’ of Bollywood, Akshay Kumar has packed a fair punch (pun intended) on the big screen. So much so that special effects in films such as Dabangg seem bogus in front of Kumar’s stunt-studded legacy, which obviously doesn’t end at action films. Dhadkan and Hera Pheri made him into a complete Bollywood package or, more aptly, someone who could easily romance with girls half his age and kick the goons at the same time.
But his honeymoon period ends with Holiday: A Solider Is Never Off Duty. Directed by AR Murugados, Holiday is what could have been a decent action film, but it fails to hit the mark because of a shallow script and romantic subplot, which kill whatever impact remains of the action.
Captain Virat Bakshi (Kumar) is an agent for the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), who usually roams around the city with his friend, sub-inspector Mukund (Sumeet Raghavan). One day, a terrorist blows up a bus full of people that Bakshi had just gotten off.
The perpetrator runs away only to get chased by Bakshi. He hands the bruised terrorist over to the police, who then admit him to the hospital under their custody. He successfully flees from the hospital only to be taken hostage by Bakshi. This leads him to find out about the 12 sleeper cells that are planning to bomb 12 different places in the city. Bakshi takes up the cause of making their plan unsuccessful.
For a Bollywood action film, the plot does sound interesting, but the beginning of the film fails to lend impetus to it. It starts with Bakshi turning down the character played by Sonakshi Sinha for marriage as he finds her shy and boring. The next day, he goes to a boxing competition where he sees Saiba knock out his opponent in one blow. Bakshi falls for her right away and what follows is one of the most irritating Bollywood ballads Tu Hi Toh Hai.
It’s annoying because of two reasons: first, the vibrant bermudas and sneakers combination doesn’t complement Kumar’s rugged persona, and second, Sonakshi’s crude way of carrying out the athletic scenes makes the javelin look like a gandasa and karate seem like kabbadi. She is certainly the Bollywood equivalent of our very own Saima. Ironically, Sonakshi’s character in the film is named Saiba.
That, of course, is followed by a series of long and cheesy scenes before we get to the main plot, which is when Bakshi seems to realise he is actually an Indian agent who is supposed to defend his country.
The hotchpotch of plots is the central problem in the film because it neither offers you the typical masala combination of action and romance nor does it fall in Kumar’s signature ‘khiladi’ zone. Two weak plots struggle to rivet the audience’s attention, each distracting you from the other as you keep trying to isolate them, which doesn’t quite happen till the end.
As a result, Sonakshi’s character seems forced and her performance is bland, which is why you silently hope that the action sequences involving the sleeper cells will salvage the film. The script doesn’t offer much for Kumar’s character, but he still pulls off some challenging stunts and moves with his usual ‘khiladi’ ease. Govinda’s role, which is of Kumar’s senior commanding officer Pratap, is a breath of fresh air during his short but pivotal screen time.
In a nutshell, Holiday had the potential of being an engaging thriller, but the heavy dose of stylistic and thematic Bollywood clichés ended up making it a test of your brain and bladder.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2014.
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