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Yodha Review: Sturdy Sidharth Malhotra To The Rescue

Last updated on: March 15, 2024 17:19 IST
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It’s on the lead character's charm and rugged shoulders that Yodha shamelessly rests, giving Arun perfectly good reason to gloat, ‘Is picture ka hero main hoon,’ observes Sukanya Verma.

Yodha begins like a 10-year-old’s essay titled My Dad My Hero. The rest of the movie is what happens when you insist on being that kid all your life.

Completely taken with the special task force founded by his father (Ronit Roy, in a cameo), young Arun hopes to follow in his footsteps and become a Yodha himself someday.

Cut to an all grown-up and devil-may-care Sidharth Malhotra as Arun combating the enemy at the India-Bangladesh border as part of his fictional, titular tactical unit’s objective to keep their dear desh out of harm’s way.

A light-footed Sidharth single-handedly going at the baddies is a slick sight.

Armed in swag, sunglasses and slow motion, the man is more than fit for the job. And it’s on his charm and rugged shoulders that Yodha shamelessly rests, giving Arun perfectly good reason to gloat, ‘Is picture ka hero main hoon.’


Set in the 2000s, when military officers could openly criticise the government before the press and India-Pakistan’s peace talks imbued the air, Arun’s patriotic passion finds itself at the short end of the stick when a mission to rescue a nuclear scientist in a hijack situation goes awry.

Despite its tragic outcome, this is as thrilling a sequence as it gets.

A critical atmosphere of offence, defence and daredevilry sans the trappings of bombastic drama and dialogue, there’s an element of modesty at play that works to Yodha’s advantage.

If Sidharth’s nimble show of hand-to-hand combat accelerates the fast-paced action to the hilt, his implacable irritation at being thrown under the bus for doing his best makes him the only character in Yodha that’s not cardboard.

I enjoyed the first 40 minutes or so of Yodha -- upfront, old school action is always a breeze.

Once Arun gets on his second hijack assignment though, it’s like an altogether different energy and aesthetic.

I don’t know whether Yodha sharing a director credit between Sagar Ambre and Pushkar Ojha has anything to do with it. Either way, its whodunit-like developments, scripted by Ambre, won’t seem novel if you still recall Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop from which Yodha takes sloppy inspiration if not outright rips it off.

Like Hollywood’s 2014 hijack masala, the same in-flight text threats, wolf in sheep’s clothing twists, turbulence tactics, saviour to scapegoat to saviour trajectory find its way into Yodha’s plot points.

Except it’s not the knee jerk reaction of a disconcerted mind but cliched terror politics determining the nature of the attack. The less said about these hammy homegrown hijackers -- with secret identities as predictable as signs to fasten the seat belt -- the better.

Barring two random passengers and one flight attendant (Disha Patani’s performance deserves a place right next to Ek Villain Returns), nobody onboard a packed Air Bharat is of any consequence.

There are several occasions to explore the marital tension between Arun and his government official wife Priyamvada (Raashii Khanna looking all professional and lovely in beautiful handloom saris) but they never go beyond dull telephonic interactions, which imply much and reveal nothing.

Yodha’s rush to retain diplomacy and avert disaster against the backdrop of a Indo-Pak peace treaty, while the stalemate over Kashmir prompts extremist factions to wreak havoc until their demands are met, might have had some merit if not for the cock-and-bull treatment.

Between smart Arun figuring how-to-fly manuals faster than a trained pilot to solo Arun reining in the free-for-all pandemonium enveloping Islamabad’s political fortress along the lines of Tiger 3’s cross-border reconciliation, there is no end to Yodha’s airhead logic.

Aman ki Asha can wait so long Yodha’s awfully stuffed, silly and superficial storytelling arrives at its -- Sidharth Malhotra heroically holding up a custom-made tirangaa flare -- conclusions.

Yodha Review Rediff Rating:

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