Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off Duty

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.

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