‘YODHA’ REVIEW | 15 March, 2024

Amazon Prime Video, Dharma Productions and Mentor Disciple Entertainment’s Yodha (UA) is the story of daredevil Air Force officer Arun Katyal and how the system penalises him for his wrongful though well-intentioned actions.

Arun Katyal (Sidharth Malhotra) is a very brave Air Force officer for whom the country comes before everything else. He is married to Priyamvada (Raashi Khanna) who also works in the Air Force. One day, an aeroplane, in which Arun is travelling with India’s celebrated nuclear scientist (S.M. Zaheer), is hijacked. Unfortunately, Arun is unable to save the scientist despite his best efforts. Since he had jumped the gun and not heeded the advice of seniors, disciplinary action is taken against him as he is held responsible for the scientist’s killing at the hands of the hijackers. He and his team members are suspended and so is the Yodha task force which he heads. Arun has always been sentimental about the Yodha task force because it was started by his father, Surender Katyal (Ronit Roy), who is no more. The disciplinary action against him tells on his married life too as Priyamvada seeks divorce. A few years later, he is posted as an Air Commando. As bad luck would have it, the aeroplane in which he is travelling is hijacked — and to the world, it appears that Arun Katyal is the hijacker who wants to blow up the aircraft in a mosque in Pakistan! However, Arun also seems to be the one fighting the hijackers whose identity is unknown to him. The hijack drama coincides with a peace talks meeting scheduled in Pakistan between the Pakistani Prime Minister (Bhuvan Chopra) and the Indian head of state (Sanjay Gurbaxani). What is the reality about the hijack drama? Who is/are the hijacker/s? What happens ultimately?

Sagar Ambre’s story is interesting and it keeps the viewers engaged. Although it does get confusing in the post-interval portion, the audience’s interest level doesn’t dip. Of course, the confusion is cleared once the suspense unravels but before that happens, it does get a bit irritating for the viewers who keep wondering about what’s actually happening. This part also gets a bit too technical, which ought to have been avoided or, at least, simplified. Once the confusion dies down, the drama keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. Sagar Ambre’s screenplay is fast-paced and thrilling. It doesn’t give the audience any time to think or have their thoughts wander. The last about half an hour of the screenplay is very convincing and also tension-ridden and entertaining. The entire portion of Arun and the trainee pilot, Tanya Sharma (Kritika Bharadwaj), trying to save the aircraft and the passengers is thoroughly engaging and gives the viewers many a tension-ridden moment. Climax is exhilarating as well as fulfilling. Sagar Ambre’s dialogues are effective.

Sidharth Malhotra shines as Arun Katyal. He gives his all to the character and wins the audience’s empathy. He looks handsome as ever. Raashi Khanna is superb in the role of Priyamvada Katyal. She looks very beautiful and impresses with a thoroughly dignified performance. Disha Patani is good as Laila Khalid. Her acting in the second half comes as a surprise. Sunny Hinduja is effective as Jalal. Kritika Bharadwaj leaves a wonderful mark as trainee pilot Tanya Sharma. Tanuj Virwani lends fair support as Sameer Khan. Chittaranjan Tripathy makes a fine impression as S.N. Dhingra. Mikhail Yawalkar is good as Anirudh Saha. Pawan Chopra (as Pakistani officer Ashraf) is nice. Sanjay Gurbaxani has his moments as the Indian head of state. Amit Singh Thakur (as the doctor) leaves a mark. S.M. Zaheer makes his presence felt as the nuclear scientist. Abhishek Mishra provides good support as Air Commando Amandeep Singh. Ronit Roy (in a brief role as Surender Katyal), Farida Patel (as Arun Katyal’s mother), Maneesh Varma (as Col. Chand), Bhuvan Chopra (as the Pakistani Prime Minister), Pankaj Kalra (as the home minister in 2001), Vikram Kapadia (as pilot Raghav Chandra), Vijay Vikram Singh (as the senior officer in the Delhi control room), Shehnaad (as the airport boarding counter employee), Sapan Bhattacharya (as the terrorist in the opening sequence), Hari Om Kalra (as the pilot in 2001), Rahul Saha (as the Pakistani delegate), Saadhika Sayal (as the reporter at Jinnah Hall), Munni Jha (as the enquiry chairman), Kalpesh Rajgor and Akshar Singh (both as aviation officers in 2001), Ravi Sharma (as the Indian officer in Pakistan), Vishal Joshi (as the home minister in 2006) and the others provide decent support.

Sagar Ambre and Pushkar Ojha’s direction is good. The debut-making director duo knows the craft and has also extracted good work from out of their artistes. Besides, they have been able to beautifully and effectively create the tension and excitement in the drama. Music is lovely. The Zindagi tere naam song (by Vishal Mishra) and the Kismat badal di number (by B. Praak; new version of Kismat badal di by Aditya Dev and Jaani) are excellently tuned. Tere sang ishq hua and Tiranga (both by Tanishk Bagchi) are also nice. Lyrics (Tiranga by Manoj Muntashir Shukla, Kismat badal di by Jaani, Tere sang ishq hua by Kunaal Verma, Zindagi tere naam by Vishal Mishra and Kaushal Kishore) are lovely. Tushar Kalia’s choreography is simple. John Stewart Eduri’s background music is impactful and helps in increasing the tension levels. Jishnu Bhattacharjee’s cinematography is superb. Craig Macrae and Sunil Rodrigues’ action and stunt scenes afford a lot of thrill. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production designing, and Avijit Ghosh’s art direction are of a high order. Shivkumar V. Panicker’s editing is super-sharp.

On the whole, Yodha is a reasonably entertaining fare and will do fair business at the ticket windows. The confusing part in the post-interval portion is a minus point.

Released on 15-3-’24 at Inox (daily 7 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay thru AA Films. Publicity: very good. Opening: dull. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark almost everywhere. Collections are showing an improvement as the day is progressing.