Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty is a three-hour attempt of a director to combine an action thriller with a romantic comedy. Well, to be more precise, it’s mainly an action thriller but it has roadblocks of comedy and romance when things get too serious. There are places where A.R. Murugadoss and Akshay Kumar achieve intense tension due to well-executed scenes. Alas, the scenes don’t work towards a cohesive whole. The excessive length makes matters worse and the film ultimately skids off course. A taut thriller, instead of a commercial mishmash, would have been more like it.
Akshay Kumar plays Virat Bakshi, an army guy who comes back home to Mumbai during his holidays. As the title suggests, this soldier is not going to be off duty. Before gets in his on duty mode, Govinda arrives. Yes, that Govinda, the awesome one. You wonder what he is doing in this film? Well I have seen the entire film and I’m still wondering what he was doing there.
Virat’s parents take him to see a girl right from his arrival at the train station. This girl called Saiba is played by Sonakshi Sinha. She enters whenever there is need for romance or comedy. While, the Akshay-Sonakshi pair has worked before, here they don’t quite click. In fact, I believe the film is badly cast, including Akshay Kumar. A younger actor for the lead hero or possibly a better actor for the villain would have done the trick. Farhad plays the villain and is wholly unconvincing. They say a film is as good as its villain. Well, there you go.
The plot is mainly centered on a terrorist master plan and Virat is smack in the middle of it. All the action sequences are done well especially one that involves 12 men bringing down serial terrorist blasts. What I found most interesting is that the protagonist is a vigilante. He takes the law in his own hands and does what is necessary. He is relentless and can put his life or even his family’s life in danger to catch the bad guys. If the film succeeded at making this vigilante likeable, I would be praising it a lot more.
Akshay Kumar has had a string of flops last year, barring Special 26. I think it’s time for him to step back and contemplate. The films chosen with the idea of being box office draws are bombing and the others are succeeding. It’s time he got back to what he does best – comedy. But then I saw the trailer of his upcoming film which promises entertainment and I’m genuinely scared. The last time he did a thriller, it was called 8x10 Tasveer (2009) and it was a horrible misfire. Holiday needed less of that film and more of Khakee (2004). By which I mean, less of Akshay looking serious and more of an emotional attachment to the plot. A.R. Murugadoss’ own previous Bollywood outing had us emotionally involved, if nothing else.
When the climax arrived, I checked my watch. The film was nearing three hours and I wasn’t looking forward to what comes next. The climax, to my dismay, ended up being extremely preposterous. It shifts from boredom to surprise to boredom again to unintentional laughter and finally to plain and simple nonsense. Our vigilante hero doesn’t come out looking heroic at all.
To sum it up, there are two scenes where a terrorist is locked up in a cupboard. In the succeeding scene, and another time in the same room, there are situations of slapstick comedy being played out. You can’t take the comedy seriously when you have just seen an intense chase scene or a torture scene. It is clearly out of place and a wee bit insenstive.
The comedy works at places but doesn’t belong. The action is thrilling until the plot runs out of steam. The songs are highly forgettable. The sad part is you can spot a good film in there. You only need to edit out a few things or perhaps quite a few things.
This Holiday is not something I would advise this summer. You’d rather take an actual holiday.