The story of a son of India who puts country before self, Pathaan is a crowd pleaser that marks the return of Shah Rukh Khan to the action genre with new toys and a lot more bombast. Returning after a hiatus, SRK is in form in the larger-than-life space of Yash Raj banner’s growing spy universe where writers pick strands from the real world and propel them at escape velocity. 

Here, director Siddharth Anand draws from current affairs like the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan’s fascination for Kashmir, bio-warfare and mysterious viral attacks to conjure up a spectacle sans secrets that is safe for the thin-skinned and provides fans of Hollywood spy agents some smart desi stuff to cheer about. 

Moving at a breakneck speed in locations across the world, itis about an aging Indian secret agent (Shah Rukh) who puts together a team of retired agents to navigate where the red tape doesn’t stick. Their fight is against an insider called Jim (John Abraham) who has turned rogue and is out to finish India in collusion with a Pakistani general. Along the way, Pathaan comes across an ISI agent Rubina (Deepika Padukone) whose fashion sense is obvious, but her designs are ambiguous. 

Writers Sridhar Raghavan and Abbas Tyrewala (dialogues) segue Shah Rukh’s genetic material with the screenplay to create some whistle-inducing dialogues on Pathaan’s commitment, courage and camaraderie. With Shah Rukh, it is not just about brawn as he brings his trademark wit, irreverence and self-deprecatory humour, making Pathaan different from Tiger and Kabir, the other agents prowling in the vicinity. Only Shah Rukh could pop a pain killer with the coolth of chewing a gum.