From XXX: Return of the Xander Cage to Jawan, Deepika Padukone has now become the go-to face for action films but here’s why we feel Fighter did not explore her complete potential!
For the longest time, actresses have been used as a mere love interest or asked to be a part of catchy songs in action films but with time this stereotype slowly and steadily has been breaking. Deepika Padukone made her Hollywood debut with an action film like XXX: Return of the Xander Cage with Vin Diesel. That was the first time she sank her teeth into the action genre. 2023 was where we saw an overload of her and Shah Rukh Khan doing action together. And surprisingly both worked beautifully at the box office.
In Pathaan she had a good meaty role of her own where she contributed to the plot twist and actually aced the action sequences. It was refreshing to see her rescuing the hero for once. She struck a good balance between romance and action in the movie which the audience seemed to love. Then in Jawan, although it was a cameo, she became one of the highlights of the film. Her character, Aishwarya Rathore was the soul of the movie and the main reason for the conflict in the story. The wrestling scene between her and Shah Rukh exuded so much power; the scene where she fought the corrupt police officer showed how headstrong her character was.
And that’s always been that one commonality in her roles. They’re all strong characters. They have an individuality and they all have a certain suave to them. So after watching her in Pathaan and Jawan, I had a certain expectation when I went in to watch Fighter. And it was rather disappointing to see her only being restricted to being a love interest to Hrithik Roshan. How some of the supporting characters in the film had a better arc than her was a real head scratcher. We’ve all seen the kind of magic she is capable of creating on-screen so seeing her only be someone who’s solving emotional issues in the film felt like we’re being robbed of a good storyline.
In Fighter, her character was the only female Indian Air Force pilot in the Air Dragons unit and it’s shown that she went above and beyond in her personal life to reach where she is today. Her parents, who did not believe in her, were proved wrong in the end. She showed them that she is capable of being whatever she chooses to be. She made something out of herself. While the film had such phenomenal aerial action, all of them were done by the men which was so disappointing. It would’ve been exhilarating to see her doing those action sequences and taking down the bad guys. And it would've also helped if her character had been explored more. After this, action as a genre has started to feel like one step forward and two steps back when it comes to its arcs for the female protagonists.
A pattern that we’ve noticed in Deepika’s filmography is that every genre has had its good chunk of phase. For instance, there was the royal drama phase where she only did Sanjay Leela Bhasali films back to back. Before that there was a phase of unconventional characters in Cocktail, Piku and Tamasha. Her current action genre will also include Rohit Shetty’s Singham 3 as well. But some films work and some don’t, and unfortunately, in this action era of hers, Fighter just didn’t stick the way it was supposed to and let her down!
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