Often a film’s publicity can be so misleading. Till one saw last week’s Holiday: A soldier is never off duty, the idea conveyed was that the leading lady of the film, played by Sonakshi Sinha, is a boxer. It sounded rather exciting, that in a mainstream movie, there is a female boxer, and it would seem obvious that she would put those skills to use during action sequence in the film.
How disappointing it was then, to find that she just poses as a boxer in a song, in which she also plays all kinds of sport from football to basketball to athletics. Nobody can be a master of so many games, so it is clear, she is just playing a fancy dress game for this number, in which the leading man, Akshay Kumar, watches her and occasionally interrupts her game.
Typically, in an old-style Southern action film, the woman has nothing to do. Sonakshi Sinha is heroine only in name, pulled out when the film needs a song-and-dance number. In a scene before this sporty song, Akshay has rejected her, because she seems too demure. When he sees her in sporting gear, he falls in love and wants to marry her, at which she rejects him.
Later, she sees a pretty friend of hers marrying an ordinary-looking bald man. She is tactless enough to ask the bride why she is marrying an ugly man, to which the bride replies that men who are good-looking and intelligent are tough to find, so it’s best to accept whoever is at hand. At which Saiba (Sonakshi), rushes straight to Akshay and proposes marriage to him.
This is the kind of character an A-list actress plays, at a time when her contemporaries like Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Kangana Ranaut, Parineeti Chopra are pushing the boundaries for Bollywood actresses, and even the conventional glamour girls like Kareena Kapoor and Katrina Kaif are trying to look for parts when the leading lady has something worthwhile to do in a film. Sonakshi too surprised audiences with her sensitive performance in Lootera, but that’s about the only one. In most of her films, she dresses up and sashays around, and as has been pointed out by others, plays basically the same woman over and over again, with not even much variation in her look.
Saiba belongs to the past – today, if an actress wears boxing gloves, she should be able to deliver a knockout punch.