Prime Edition

A soldier is never off duty, but maybe he should be

7th Jun 2014


Director: A.R. Murugadoss

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Sumeet Raghavan, Freddy Daruwala, Govinda

Action-thriller? Um, no. Murugadoss' Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, is a comedy, only I don't think any of them thought it would be.

Captain Virat Bakshi (Akshay Kumar) is a soldier home for the holidays, and when we first meet him in the movie, he's being stuffed into a car and taken to meet a girl for marriage, Saiba (Sonakshi Sinha). The two families exchange a bunch of bad jokes and on the way back home, Virat rejects her. Her hair is too long, she's too shy, and is dressed like a villager. Cut to Saiba in the exact opposite avatar — she slaps her father across the face, puts on a tiny skirt and storms out of the house, allegedly incensed at having been introduced to a boy by her parents, only to be rejected straight out.

Meanwhile, Virat, who's supposed to be on a break, isn't — because everyone knows that a soldier (say it with me) is never off duty. Read the poster? Me too. Not only is Virat never off duty, but he's downright annoying in his conviction of his mad supercop skills, best displayed in cases of petty theft like stolen purses and being the primary security at an intercollegiate boxing championship. It is here, incidentally (and by incidentally I mean just the opposite, of course) that he discovers that Saiba is not the goody two shoes he assumed her to be when they first met. No, sir. She's the Mary Kom of boxing, the Venus Williams of tennis, the Bruce Lee of some sort of strange martial art that looks a bit like an unfortunate tango; she's a track race champ and a javelin-throwing star and a basketball enthusiast. She's sporty, we get it, but that damn song is still going, so we've got to go through the entire roster of Olympic-level sports before they let it go (and once they let it go, they forget about it altogether, by the way). The whole time, Virat is grinning at her in a way that would make any girl with half a brain call the cops on him...but wait, he is kinda like the cop. No, wait. He's on holiday. NO, WAIT, a soldier is never...

Anyway, he retracts his rejection. But then she says no to him. Then she says yes again. And basically the whole thing is so schizophrenic and uneventful (a rare combination, to be sure) that I'm not going to bother trying to explain it to you — it's giving me a migraine just thinking about it.

Let's go back to Superhero OnDutyOffDuty Virat, who is poking his nose in his cop friend's business and trying to solve cases for him because he's bored and I'm not sure if you know this, but a soldier is never off duty. This is the guy that wears the pained expression of someone who hasn't had a satifactory bowel movement in years, and takes longer than a sixth-grade student to solve a Rubik's Cube every time he gets his meddling paws on a case file and some hard thinking is involved. So that he eventually uncovers — and is allowed to take on — a terrorist's (Freddy Daruwala) plan to plant something like a dozen bombs through "sleeper cells" across the city of Mumbai is shocking, to say the least.

But that's only because you don't know that he's actually Virat Bakshi from the Indian Army. DIA specialist. Secret agent of the force. Who tells everyone about it. Only minutes before taking a fancy to stuffing terrorists and girlfriends into the cupboards in his bedroom - because the scriptwriters forgot to write out some key scenes and once the cameras were rolling, Akshay Kumar had to think fast.

In a movie that takes three hours to tell a largely uninteresting story, the loopholes and unintentional LOLs are aplenty. If you held a gun to my head and asked me to find two silver linings in this unforgiving cloud, I'd go with Govinda's cameo and that one horrifically catchy song (Blame It On The Night) that I've already heard being played in clubs.

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