Akshay Kumar’s ‘Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty’ film review

Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty movie review

Star Cast: Akshay Kumar, Freddy Daruwala, Sonakshi Sinha, Sumeet Raghavan, Govinda

Director : A R Murugadoss

‘Holiday’, the official remake of the monster Tamil hit ‘Thuppaki’, gives Akshay Kumar a chance to return to full combat mode. He plays a patriotic soldier willing to stretch a few rules in the line of duty, whether it is wielding sharp shears on a suspect’s finger, or shooting bad guys point blank. Till he’s going bang bang, he’s all right; the moment he gets romancing and joshing, he slides. So does the film.

It is a near frame-by-frame copy, and the original had the kind of full-on action interspersed with broad comedy that South actioners are full of, which never travel too far in Hindi remakes. The soldier’s sidekick is a policeman (Sumeet Raghavan). The cop fulfils the role of faithful jester and companion, there to make the hero look good.

That is also the only job of the leading lady (Sonakshi Sinha), who wears boxing gloves-and-tight-shorts in one scene and a flowing dress in another, and is the Hindi film equivalent of the brainless bimbette, pulled out only when the plot remembers that it needs a song-and-dance. But unfortunately for her, they are so generic, they swish by without impact.

On a break from active duty, Captain Virat Bakshi (Akshay Kumar) finds himself up against the mastermind (Daruwala) of a terrorist outfit, who is busily planting ‘sleeper cells’ through the country to be activated when the time is ripe. So, we have Virat careering around Mumbai, leading his men into hair-brained ambushes in which people are dispatched speedily. It’s all very wild West and vigilante.

Other bad guys are tortured and dumped with impunity, and no one suspects our man as he sets about cleaning up the rot. But hey, those looking for logic in this haystack of a plot are just spoil-sports. When there is ‘masala’, why bother with mind and matter, especially in a film that revels in its comic-book silliness? ‘Holiday’ doesn’t take itself seriously, and that is its only saving grace.

Akshay can still deliver a perfect roundhouse kick but he has been looking his age for a while now. He’s slim and fit and agile, and sports a sharp Army-style buzz cut, but he makes everything familiar. In Murugadoss’s earlier Hindi remake ‘Ghajini’, Aamir Khan’s eight packs did the talking, both on and off screen, and all that banded muscle was new for the Khan, and for us. Akshay doesn’t get to roll out enough fresh tricks here.

As the brainy-and-brawny villain, Daruwala has not even an iota of menace:
 the original had Vidyut Jamwal, and he made at least the action bits fun. The cat-and-mouse chase, with the bad guy making the running, only picks up momentum towards the end : for a change, the second half has more things going on, with a couple of interesting sequences. And the bone-crusher of a climax made me sit up a bit, but it came after too much same old-same old.

Almost as an after-thought, Govinda shows up in a large-ish cameo, looking most ill-at-ease and out of place. What is he doing in a film like this? When will the South ‘masala’ remake find a decent burial? It is long past its sell-by date.