Saturday, June 07, 2014

Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty 

Southern Masala Redux

The villain in AR Murugadoss’s Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty is so generic he doesn’t even have a name. He is listed in the credits as ‘Villain’ and his chief assistant a Villain 2. It’s the kind of action flick in which the hero mends his broken bones mid-fight, by simply twitching his body. No wonder Bollywood does not need superheroes, the regular heroes are enough.

Holiday is the remake of Tamil hit Thuppaki, and Salman Khan (whose career depends mostly on Southern remakes) must have let this one slip, but the action-romance-mild comedy formula is usually done by one of the action stars, who are interchangeable-- Salman, Akshay, Ajay Devgan and in the director’s last film Ghajini, it was Aamir Khan.

Virat Bakshi (Kumar) from army intelligence comes home to Mumbai on holiday and walks smack into a terrorist plot involving sleeper cells— people are called sleeper cells, not secret underworld organizations. The controller of these ordinary people hidden in the city’s crowded localities is Villain (Freddy Daruwala).

Virat makes habit if picking up these ‘sleeper cells’ and locking them in his cupboard – he lives in an enormous bungalow with almirahs large enough to house paying guests. He also gets a thrill out of chopping their fingers. The Villain never gets to do anything remotely as menacing. When the city is in danger and every minute counts, Virat takes time off to romance a bimbette called Saiba (Sonaksi Sinha), who keeps puckering up for a kiss she never gets because Akshay Kumar is not Emraan Hashmi.

There are a couple of brisk scenes—one in which Bakshi and his army buddies run an impromptu operation to stop a mass bombing in Mumbai by ‘sleeper cells’, and the other in which he uses own sister as a bait to reach the baddies—but the film is much too ridiculous; a film in which terrorists keep a city in their sights constantly, should have had heart-stopping tension. The vigilante style functioning by Virat gets just a splutter or two or outrage by his friend and sidekick, a cop (Sumeet Raghavan) who has even less of a brain than Saiba.

It’s Akshay Kumar’s show and he delivers with smooth professionalism. Holiday redeems itself by glorifying the Army without the usual chest-thumping melodrama that usually accompanies movie patriotism.   


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