The ApunKaChoice movie review of Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty. Suspend your disbelief and pack your wits off for a holiday if you truly want to enjoy this heavy-duty action-packed thriller by director A.R. Murugadoss. Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty is packed with the usual Bollywood trappings and herogiri, but it hinges on an engrossing plot with many a twist and turn to keep you glued to the screen despite the butt-flattening 160-minute running time.
The film’s hero is a one-man demolition squad who takes it upon himself to unearth and annihilate the terrorists threatening the Mumbai city. Virat Bakshi (Akshay Kumar) is a proud Defence Intelligence Agent (DIA) on a holiday in Mumbai, hunting for a bride. His parents take him to see Saiba (Sonakshi Sinha) but he dismisses her as too dainty a damsel to fit the bill for his rugged soldierly self. Little does he know that beneath the delicate exterior lies a pugnacious girl who is a boxer to boot. And she wants to clock him hard. Between mean punches and girl wooing, love sprouts and a song explodes on the screen.
Also explodes a bomb in a kid’s school bus, putting our soldier Virat his ‘holiday’ status on the backburner and launch a manhunt to weed out the sleeper terrorist cell that’s planning something big for Mumbai city. At the head of this sleeper cell is a suave, smart, unassuming but highly evil mastermind (Farad) who also holds a grudge against Virat.
Then on, the film becomes a game of one-upmanship between Virat and the terror mastermind, culminating in a fistfight between the two in the climax that’s not without its wow and LOL moments. For a while, it looks like the bad guy has the upper hand, but then…
A remake of A.R. Murugadoss’ 2012 Tamil hit Thuppakki, Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty has many things going for it. It has gut-wrenching action sequences (directed by Greg Powell of Skyfall fame). It has pace and pluck. What mars it is the stretched romantic track between Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha and the songs that keep popping up like bad news at inopportune moments just when things start to get interesting. And it takes a lot of suspension of disbelief to see that a sole soldier off duty leads the battle against the terrorists, with just a junior cop (Sumeet Raghavan) as his subordinate.
Also the leading man Virat is all but a superhero who does incredible things (apart from singing and dancing with ladylove) and resorts to fluky guesswork rather than the gray matter to sniff out terror mastermind’s moves. Needless to say, his guesses turn out right.
Akshay Kumar hits a homerun playing a role that suits him to a T. He’s agile, he’s rugged, he’s a charmer and a demolisher, all with equal aplomb. It’s only when he wants to be taken seriously -- particularly when he holds forth about the greatness and valour of soldiers -- he flubs and makes it all sound too glib and corny. Sonakshi Sinha is a sweet confection in this otherwise fire-and-brimstone thriller. Govinda is miscast in a cameo as Akshay’s commanding officer.
A film like Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty hinges greatly on its antagonist. Here, Farad (aka Freddy Daruwala) comes as a stark departure from the hulky Vidyut Jamwal in the 2002 movie 'Thuppakki'.
Farad isn’t your usual villain. He looks refined, sober and it’s only in a stray moment of maniacal laughter or an evil glance that the diabolic side of the character comes through. An interesting choice to play the bad guy.
Holiday - A Soldier Is Never Off Duty is not for the connoisseurs. It’s a typical masala fare with songs, a romantic track, fights, explosions, shootouts to make for an engrossing watch.