‘Yodha’ review: A Sidharth Malhotra film all the way

Towards the fag end of Yodha, just in case the audience has not noticed it till then, Sidharth Malhotra’s character says, ‘Iss picture ka hero main hoon’ (I am the hero of this movie).

Yodha, a messy-massy entertainer, is built around Malhotra who plays Arun Katyal, the member of a tiny but elite squad that can fight on land, in sea and in the air. Once that fact is established, you can justify the myriad forms of his physical prowess. After an operation goes wrong, an inquiry is set up to consider whether or not the squad should continue. Some years later, Katyal finds himself in an eerily similar situation. This time, the stakes are much higher. And he has to fight off both the enemy and the aspersions cast on his patriotism.

Patriotism never goes out of flavour, and Yodha has its share of dialogues that stir that pot. However, it gains over recent hypernationalistic releases that paint the neighbour as the enemy into a slightly more nuanced version—that terrorism is a business and having peace between the two nations would mean the end of it. For just that, Yodha deserves an extra star.

The action in Yodha is slick and stylish. Fists and feet fly around dizzyingly and Malhotra makes it all believable and likeable. The hand-to-hand and knife combat are thrilling. However, Malhotra is capable of much more than the perpetual frown on his forehead and the lump in his throat—the only allowances made for him in terms of performance. There is a fleetingly tender moment between him and his father—the ever-dependable Ronit Roy—but it is gone all too soon. In his nods to other Dharma productions, Malhotra is endearing. The love story with a subtle Raashii Khanna is not just that but criss crosses with the film’s interplay between politics and the armed forces.

Disha Patani is, well, just her. But, to her merit, she is probably one of the very few actresses who can make a convincing case for landing kicks while draped in a saree. Watch her closely for a sudden flip in demeanour and body language. And it is a total paisa vasool moment when she grapples with Malhotra.

The movie’s writing is clever though not necessarily logical, as layers are peeled off till well past the intermission. It successfully draws the audience into a game of ‘spot the bad guys’. If you have watched a few hijack movies, you will notice some templates thrown in, but the pacing of the movie does not permit one to linger over those ‘inspirations’.

The dialogues are trite but mercifully act as just fillers between the fights. The support cast holds up well. The music, however, is nothing memorable.

In the slight spaces that it is allowed, the camera lovingly gazes at some breathtaking landscapes.

Yodha is a Malhotra film. He is its brawn and its draw, well on his way to becoming the most dependable action hero among his contemporaries. But it is in the moments that he is not being the muscle man that he gives tantalizing glimpses into what more he is capable of.

Film: Yodha

Director: Pushkar Ojha, Sagar Ambre

Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Disha Patani, Raashii Khanna and others

Rating: 2.5/5