movies

Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty

AR Murugadoss seems to have perfected the assembly line remaking project. His Ghajini was a runaway hit in both Tamil and Hindi. He managed to rope in Aamir Khan for an out and out action film with its share of flaws. His Stalin was remade in Hindi with Salman Khan and now comes the Thuppakki remake as Holiday with Akshay Kumar in the lead and Sonakshi Sinha appearing and disappearing as she pleases.

Holiday is a scene by scene remake of Thuppakki. There is absolutely nothing sacrificed here in terms of sharpening the rough edges or for the betterment of the script. It’s another matter that there were too many rough edges and nothing resembling a script to begin with. The hero introduction is there though if I remember correctly a song is thankfully cut. But instead of the song we get unfunny Govinda. The comedy scenes are intact. The heroine introduction is the same. The relationship (if you can call it that) is portrayed the same way. Akshay Kumar’s part lover part intelligence officer role has the same trajectory. It’s the same drama about how often a character on screen can say and define sleeper cells in as many different ways as possible. It ends with the same fight and the movie drags along in the last part just like the Tamil original did.

By now you must have realized that this is an out and out commercial film. Muragadoss’s target audience will probably lap this film up  the way they did Thuppakki. Is it the least bit entertaining? Yes but only in parts. Does Murugadoss manage what he intends to do with the film – that is present a well packaged entertainer that you can actually enjoy and not consider a chore to sit through till you gorge your eyes out? Well, not quite. In a land where we see Vijay and scores of other actors only in such films and we see so many such films it doesn’t seem out of place. The inanity before your eyes becomes a routine and you are free to brush it aside and just wonder whether you enjoyed it (that’s not to say it is healthy). But the Hindi atmosphere with its more nuanced marriage between commercial and the ambitious doesn’t lend itself to this. So when Akshay Kumar says, “All these sleeper cells will become coma cells” you can only laugh at it.

Murugadoss has repeatedly claimed his idol is Shankar and he likes to think on such grand scale. Like his idol, his ideas indeed are huge for the usual commercial fare but his execution can hardly match the ever giving talents of Shankar. He doesn’t take his ideas to their full logical conclusion and is satisfied filming an otherwise trite subject around them. In an effort to make the film unique he ends up doing it a disservice. What we get is a film that pretends to be intelligent but is just like any other monotonous tripe that hits you every year. This is the part with Akshay Kumar battling sleeper cells and terrorists. As for the rest of the film – Sonakshi Sinha has a poor two-handed backhand.

(An edited version of this was first published in The New Indian Express)

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