Akshay Kumar returns to the silver screen after a hiatus. Known for having a film release every few months, this move has, expectedly, garnered positive reception by the film fraternity as well as the multitude of fans. In his newest outing HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY, the actor teams up with A.R. Murugadoss, who made his Hindi debut with GHAJINI , starring Aamir Khan. Incidentally, Murugadoss too returns to the Hindi film arena after a gap of almost six years.
HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY is a remake of the Tamil action-thriller THUPPAKKI [2012; starring Vijay and Kajal Aggarwal], which won immense critical acclaim and reaped a rich harvest at the box-office. Obviously, the expectations are humungous since Murugadoss’ GHAJINI was the *first Hindi film* to waltz past the Rs 100 cr mark in the domestic market. Besides, THUPPAKKI has been a Blockbuster and one expects the Hindi adaptation to repeat history.
When one attempts to remake South Indian hits in Hindi, one makes modifications to suit the Northern sensibilities, which only enhances the project in question. Murugadoss does exactly that in HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY. THUPPAKKI was a hugely admired and engrossing entertainer and evidently ranks amongst Murugadoss’ finest works. Does the able craftsman deliver a far superior product in HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY? Does Akshay slip into Vijay’s shoes with as much ease? Is the new antagonist Farhad as merciless and cold-blooded as the original baddie Vidyut Jammwal? Most importantly, does Murugadoss take a leap forward as he recreates his bonafide Hit?
Let’s shed light on the premise! Captain Virat Bakshi [Akshay Kumar], an army man, returns home to Mumbai for his holidays. His family takes him to see Sahiba [Sonakshi Sinha], but he rejects her. Later, on another occasion, he finds out that she is actually a boxer and is surprised by her personality. The story takes a turn when an anti-social activity in the heart of Mumbai city gets him involved into something huge.
Being a patriot and a special agent in the Indian Army, Virat is dragged into a huge network of terrorism. The rest of the story is about his fight against the terrorist network and the eradication of the sleeper cells from the city.
Let’s not confuse HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY with atypical Akshay Kumar film that tilts heavily towards humor and has an uninterrupted flow of gags. This one tackles serious issue — terrorism — and how a lone soldier sets out to annihilate the sleeper cells that are out to create mayhem in Mumbai. Sure, a number of films focusing on terrorism have made it to the big screen, especially post 9/11, but Murugadoss marries the serious issue and good old romance [Akshay-Sonakshi] most effortlessly. Of course, much like the original source, HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY veers towards the clash between a soldier and the terror forces, but the storyteller, who’s eyeing the pan-India audience, makes sure he gives the masala movie lovers something more than that.
Additionally, in a majority of entertainers, the screenplay takes a backseat, while the star power takes precedence. HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY comes across as an exception because the smartly-packaged fare never loses focus from its core issue [the fight between an army man and terrorists], with the post-interval portions diversifying into race-against-time thriller mode. Also, Murugadoss employs the right tricks to woo the entertainment-seeking spectator — abundant turns in the screenplay, the face off between good and evil, the hand-to-hand combat, the subtle humor, the nail-biting finale et al — but at the end of the day, the message that the film communicates resonates loud and clear.
Expertly filmed and edited [Amitabh Shukla], the sole hiccup is that the romantic portions could’ve been short-n-snappy. The club song in the second hour appears forced. Besides, though the makers employ Pritam to belt out chartbusting melodies, the soundtrack is plain ordinary. But these are minor hiccups in an otherwise slick film that gets so many things right.
N. Nataraja Subramanian’s camera gives the film scale, while the action sequences [Greg Powell, Anl Arasu] are raw, gritty and appealing.
Murugadoss abstains from casting over-familiar faces for pivotal characters, choosing actors who aren’t known for featuring in Akshay starrers [except Sonakshi]. Govinda is restrained in a cameo. Sonakshi Sinha is effervescent and contributes in making the proceedings lively. Sumeet Raghavan is wonderful, absolutely in sync with his character. Farhad [aka Freddy Daruwala] is impactful as the antagonist. He has good screen presence and handles his part with conviction. Zakir Hussain effectively portrays the same part that he essayed in the original.
The scene-stealer is, without doubt, Akshay Kumar, who reinvents himself with this one. The actor has acted in every possible genre and though the cynics may argue that Akshay keeps repeating himself in film after film, I’d like to remind them of his nuanced act in SPECIAL 26 and now HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY. It’s a power-packed portrayal, which the actor illustrates with complete understanding, without going overboard. This is Akshay’s show unquestionably!
On the whole, HOLIDAY – A SOLDIER IS NEVER OFF DUTY is a slick action-thriller that keeps you engrossed, enthralled and captivated all through, thanks to its fascinating premise and a watertight, razor-sharp screenplay. Go for it!A. R. Murugadoss Akshay Kumar Holiday Reviews Sonakshi Sinha Taran Adarsh
Holiday Indian Express Movie Review
‘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.
One and a half ( 1.5)
Holiday Movie Review by Rajasen
Holiday is too slow to thrill
Offensively bland movies often throw up unrelated food for thought. While enduring the painfully boring Holiday, for example, I wistfully wondered how much fun things could be had the filmmaker chosen to change his vantage point: to go from the clichéd hero to the much more interesting character, his hapless (but reasonable) policeman buddy. Played as he was by Sumeet Raghavan, I kept willing the film to cut away from its insipid proceedings to this perfectly likeable cop’s home life, to his miserly wife and his poetry-spouting brother. What a lark that would be.
Alas, this film is made by AR Murugadoss, the man who made Ghajini — and the man who can thus be blamed for our blockbusters having turned dafter than ever. And clearly he and I have very different definitions of the word “lark.”
Holiday calls itself a thriller. And indeed there is a thumping background score and much, much malarkey about sleeper cells and terrorists. In the middle stands Akshay Kumar, with unfortunately flat hair, holding a Rubik’s Cube, and making what appear to be very random assumptions. He’s ridding Mumbai of the scourge of terrorism, and good for him. Because these are simple action movie setups that, despite their harebrained processes, can lead to slick enough thrillers.
holiday1Except Holiday ticks in slow-motion. Imagine, if you will, that legendary scene from the first Mission Impossible film with Tom Cruise suspended from the roof. Pure upside-down adrenaline. Now, if Murugadoss were to direct that scene, we’d spend forty minutes watching Cruise finding a shop to buy ropes, figuring which sneakers are least likely to squeak, and then detailing his plan at great length — before eventually executing it in slow-motion with half the shots replayed from different angles. Holiday, obsessed as it is with detailing Akshay’s efficiency, takes obscene amounts of time getting to the point. Remember the endless shots of people walking in Akshay’s Special 26? This is far worse.
Kumar plays army man Virat, a vacationing busybody hunting for a bride. Shortsighted enough to describe Sonakshi Sinha as “naazuk,” Kumar is bowled over watching her box. He proceeds to tap her thigh when she’s in the middle of a judo match, a move that results in her angrily hurling a javelin at him. Unfazed, Kumar pulls a big red heart out his jacket and gladly lets her javelin puncture it. Sure, it’s a throwaway moment from a silly song, but it well captures the spirit of this ridiculously childish romance. Sinha plays a pigheaded and alarmingly superficial sports-nut who, after slapping her father and berating a friend’s husband for being bald, decides mousily to settle for Kumar because, um, good men are hard to find nowadays, y’know?
Kumar, meanwhile, chases bearded men with the kind of parkour enthusiasm one would imagine he saves for those smuggling bottles of Thums Up. Jumping from balcony to balcony — and, as mentioned, from half-formed conclusion to conclusion — Akshay gamely and recklessly heads to the climax. At one point, the actor seems to have forgotten what he’s shooting for. He rounds up his squad, gives them a pep talk about turning sleeper cells into “coma cells,” and then — like a veejay trying out for an IPL-hosting gig — he bounces up, grinning, with a “boom!” (I’m astonished a plug for the next season of Fear Factor didn’t immediately take over the screen.)
It may as well have. Cut down to less than half its running time, Holiday could perhaps have been bearable. As it stands, three hours long and incredibly yawnworthy, it’s the kind of mess that makes you miss scenery-chewing villains like Prakash Raj and long for item songs. Anything for a respite. The audience nearly applauded when the intermission began, I kid you not.
Think you can handle the truth? Holiday is about the brave men and women fearlessly serving the nation and making sure you rest easy. The men and women who take on unthinkable odds, waking up and rushing to theatres first thing in the morning to catch a movie starring the hero and heroine from Joker and made by the guy who made Ghajini. We watch, and we warn, so you may not have to. Because a critic is never off duty.
Rating: 1.5 stars
Holiday Movie Review by Rajeev Masand
June 06, 2014
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Sumeet Raghavan, Freddy Daruwala, Govinda
Director: AR Murgadoss
In an important scene in Holiday, Akshay Kumar, playing a military secret agent, assembles a squad of eleven army men, and together they follow around a band of terrorists through the crowded city, tracking their every move. Akshay and his team keep a safe distance from their targets, trying to remain as inconspicuous as they can. This might have been a nail-biting scene if it weren’t for the sheer brainlessness of everyone involved. For Akshay and his team are dressed in full black suits. Now picture that: twelve men, dressed virtually identically in black suits, trying not to draw attention to themselves on Mumbai’s streets!
That this film is still not as awful as most typical Akshay Kumar starrers, despite several such harebrained sequences, is to the credit of director AR Murgadoss, who doesn’t let something as insignificant as common sense come in the way of telling a convenient story. In Holiday, Murgadoss remakes his own Tamil hit Thuppaki and he doesn’t tinker with the blueprint at all.
Akshay is Captain Virat Bakshi, who is home on a break from active duty. But, like the film’s tag line so helpfully reminds us, “A Solider is Never Off Duty”. Least of all Virat. He unearths a sinister plot to blow up the city, hatched by the leader of an Islamist terror group (a stone-faced Freddy Daruwala), who has planted ‘sleeper cells’ everywhere.
Over 170 excruciating minutes, Virat dispenses his own brand of vigilante justice. He kidnaps criminals and locks them up in his closet, tortures them by snipping off their fingers, and intimidates them into shooting themselves in the head. In between the relentless action, Sonakshi Sinha turns up, whom Akshay first rejects, then falls for when he discovers she’s a boxer. She exists in the script as a loo-break trigger, signaling that a song or a pointless romantic scene is to follow.
There is much unintentional humor in the ridiculous method that the villain employs to track down Virat, whose identity has remained a mystery to him for the longest time. Yet their climatic confrontation on a shipping vessel is thrilling. To be fair, there’s a consistent slickness in the action scenes, and occasional suspense too. But it’s all let down by the Class IV level of writing. Repeated dialogues about the sacrifices of army men feel token, and a closing song in which families send off their soldiers to the frontline is shamelessly manipulative.
My heart went out to poor Govinda who makes a cameo as Akshay’s senior in the army. He looked positively embarrassed to be in this film. And to embarrass Govinda is no mean feat, given the movies he’s made back in the day.
I’m going with two out of five for Holiday. Akshay Kumar livens up the proceedings now and then, but a lot of it is just thookpatti in this Thuppaki remake.