Fighter Review: Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone and Anil Kapoor fly high in this brilliantly-crafted aerial drama

Film: Fighter

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Deepika Padukone, Karan Singh Grover, Akshay Oberoi, Rishabh Sawhney, Sanjeeda Shaikh, Ashutosh Rana, Talat Aziz

Director: Siddharth Anand

Rating: 4.5 Moons

"Kursi Ki Peti Bandh Lo," was the tagline of Siddharth Anand's Republic Day 2023 release, Pathaan. And now with Fighter, he suggests, "Kursi Ki Peti Khol Do," as he takes you high up in the air and allows imagination and creativity to flow freely. Paying tribute to the Indian Air Force, the director tells a rich story of nationalism packed with visually arresting and breathtaking aerial sequences. 

Fighter opens at the IAF station in Srinagar where Squadron Leaders Shamsher Pathania (Hrithik Roshan), Minal Rathore (Deepika Padukone), Sartaj Gill (Karan Singh Grover) and Basheer Khan (Akshay Oberoi) unite for an unforgettable ride under the guidance of Rakesh Jaisingh (Anil Kapoor). The coldness between Shamsher aka Patty and Rakesh or 'Rocky' is clear but there's a backstory. However, the Squadron Leaders face extreme tests up in the air, especially when the neighbouring country attacks Pulwama and the IAF team has to pull off an airstrike to answer their activities. What follows is an adventure of pulsating action, raw emotions and heart-stopping aerial scenes that will leave you in awe. 

Siddharth Anand has a strong command over the action genre and Fighter is yet another successful testament. He feels the audience's pulse and serves them exactly what they desire to watch on the big screen ahead of Republic Day. While Fighter might have come across as a jingoistic film with the trailer, it is far away from that. There's the right dose of nationalism, swelling your heart with pride for the IAF pilots who put their lives at stake to protect the country. 

Raising the bar high with high-octane and jaw-dropping fight sequences, the drama takes place mid-air and there's no scope left for any sort of distraction. Fighter grabs your attention with an adequate amount of drama, dance-song and humour. There are cheeky references to Hrithik Roshan loving 'Zomato', Uri's “How's the Josh” dialogue as well as Shah Rukh Khan's "Kursi Ki Peti Bandh Lo".

Fighter also highlights the lives of Air Force pilots beyond the airstrip. Siddharth Anand encapsulates the sentiments of friendship, bonding, love, loss and achievement in the purest and unfiltered form. Through Minal's character, the film sends a strong message of women empowerment and breaks societal shackles. 

This aerial action drama is brilliantly crafted; visually and dramatically. The background score elevates the narration and blends well with the emotional and patriotic core. Undoubtedly, Fighter is the perfect Republic Day watch. If you crave repeated viewings, you won't be alone! 

Hrithik Roshan delivers one of his best performances in Fighter. He breathes life into Patty and fills his heart with compassion, passion and confidence. With a hint of arrogance, the actor makes you forget that Patty is a fictional character. His smile is worth drooling over and every HR fan will be hooting and whistling nonstop. Hrithik sheds his larger-than-life superstar persona and adapts to the story's realism effortlessly. 

Deepika Padukone's Minni (her call name) might be silent but she's the calm before, during and after the storm. She grabs attention with her charismatic performance and represents several real-life Minnis who dream big. Anil Kapoor is phenomenal as Rakesh. The intensity in his eyes and voice meets softness, leading to a beautiful blend of emotions. His equation with Patty has to be the highlight. Hrithik and Deepika's chemistry is equal to another character that deserves all the love and support.

Karan Singh Grover is fantastic as Shamsher Gill. Among the supporting cast, he gets the best character arc and makes the most with his great screen presence and persona. Akshay Oberoi might have a limited role but he's brilliant. Sanjeeda Shaikh performs well in a brief yet key role.

Fighter is a technically rich film with stunning and creative aerial sequences. The VFX team pushes boundaries and gives Indian cinema a rare yet unmissable ride. It cannot be missed for the efforts taken by the entire team in delivering something so unique and brave. It's a family entertainer that will be fresh and relevant for several years.