The Siddharth Anand School of Seduction

“Do I need to do everything?” “What can I do?” Minni (Deepika Padukone), irritated, says when Patty (Hrithik Roshan) won’t do anything but look at her with green eyes and a simmering rage. Romance is not at all important to director Siddharth Anand in the movie Fighter. The movie ends with a kiss, but it’s so boring that it’s almost criminal that actors are doing it. It takes a lot more than two pretty people being together for them to have chemistry, which is something you’d expect from Anand’s movie since he started out making family dramas and romantic comedies.

The Siddharth Anand School of Seduction

As a writer and then as a director, Anand quickly came up with a set of tropes that helped him show how his characters felt about lust and longing. A simple case of “love at first sight”; a jokey lie of some description; a lavish, fixed focus on a man’s upper body; slow-motion, close-up shots of the woman’s normally alluring, jazzed-up face. In the first half, the man was clearly in love with the woman, and in the second, he was thinking about what to do. During the same time period, the woman fell in love slowly at first, and then she became clear. The courtship is always based on the male point of view and enjoys strong-willed women. It is often stuttering with both sexual desire and platonic respect.

A Rip in the Hindi Rom-Com

Salaam Namaste (2005), Anand’s first movie as a director, is about Nick (Saif Ali Khan) and Ambar (Preity Zinta), who go from being enemies to lovers and then to moving in together right away in just a few days. The movie was unique in the Hindi rom-com genre because it showed a couple living together and trying to start a relationship while also accidentally getting pregnant.

The whole movie shows that Ambar is cocky and sure of herself, but when it comes to sexual desire, she isn’t very open about it. There is no denying how strong her desire is, but Anand’s character has a gendered side to it as well. Ambar’s initial reluctance and thought about what would happen if she dated Nick give her a skill that Nick doesn’t need to get the audience’s approval. In spite of the fact that Ambar looks more closely at her actions than Nick does, the movie does not blame her for her sexual desire or the way she acts on it.

Nick and Ambar have just moved in together when they sleep together for the first time. While taking care of Nick, he lives up to his name and cuts himself while shaving. He is lying on the bed, upset about seeing blood and admitting that he is scared of doctors. She tells him to picture her naked in a towel, thinking that the thought of being horny will be a good distraction. Nick suggests that the two of them act on the idea she just pushed him toward when she’s done cutting his hair. It’s a change from Nick, who made it clear that his idea for them to live together wasn’t just a way to satisfy their sexual urges. He suggests that they have sex in a gentle way, and the physicality of the scene makes it clear that he’s not in charge. Nick is put on the bed under a sheet by Anand, and Ambar watches over him. We can guess that Ambar is thinking about what she is doing, which is meant to show how good she is, but she gives in to her desire for him when he asks her to.

Layering Tradition with Modernity

Anand’s romances are deceptively traditional, but what keeps them interesting are the modern twists on traditional themes. For example, in “Salaam Namaste,” there is a child born outside of marriage, and in “Bachna Ae Haseeno,” there is a woman who doesn’t need saving and can hold her own against a super-spy, and in “Bang Ban,” there is a woman drinking water while a man’s body is displayed for all to see. Anand wrote the script for Hum Tum (2004), a will-they-won’t-they romantic comedy from Yash Raj Films about a man who likes women and a woman who doesn’t like them. The two argue and make sexist comments about each other, but in the end, they give in to the other person’s pull. We continue the story of a casanova in Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008). He is busy apologizing to all of his ex-lovers after his girlfriend, who doesn’t believe in marriage as an institution, turns down his proposal.

There was a mix of romance and action in Bang Bang (2014), which was about a shy bank receptionist who gets involved with international spying while a hot-looking man watches. Harleen (Katrina Kaif), the straight-and-narrow main character of Bang Bang, lets chaos into her life when she lets Rajveer (Roshan) convince her that she’ll be safe with him even though he’s involved in crime. In Shimla, Harleen has had a boring job and no love life for a while now. When she finds out that the man she went on a date with, Rajveer, is a skilled thief, she gets caught up in a mess involving international relations.

At one point in the movie, they are planning something in Prague while being chased by the Indian government, a group of organized criminals, and the British government. They have their bodies pressed up against each other in an alley so that the police officers who are watching from nearby can’t see their individual shapes. Harleen scolds Rajveer for thinking that they might be able to kiss right now, but she is actually being honest when she says this. She slowly tells him that she has learned a lot about the subject and that they have shared a peck or two in the past. In order to make a point, she quickly plants a kiss on his lips. Rajveer then tells Harleen that kisses can be longer, last longer, and be filled with erotic passion. Of course, he gives her a real-life example of this.

Using Desire to Create Nuance

Anand gives women a lot of room to lust in his movies, and Bang Bang is full of scenes of Harleen looking at Rajveer’s abs, which he makes available for her to look at from time to time. She jumps back and forth between thinking about how important Rajveer’s mission is and how she has become romantically involved with it and his teasing upper body, which breaks up the flow of her thoughts. People might think that Rajveer is being sexist when he offers Harleen a real way to kiss, since he is older and has more experience than the woman. But Anand also tells us that Harleen is shy and has trouble getting out of her comfort zones. Bang Bang fits with a more traditional idea of sexual intimacy, but it also fits with the dream of introverts to get that push they need to act on their desires.

If Ambar and Harleen were shy at first about how sexual they were acting, Rubai (Deepika Padukone) is a powerful contrast. In Anand’s films after Bang Bang, the female leads aren’t afraid to satisfy their sexual needs. Pathaan, where the coy female lead is replaced by a woman who starts out as the dominant one in the relationship, is the most seductive example of this. Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan), who eventually wants to be the center of attention, is willing to literally follow Rubai’s lead in the beginning of their relationship, even if it means going straight to Jim’s evil lair.

A Russian Hotel With a View

Rubai turns the idea of a demure heroine on its head with her stylish wardrobe, which shows how sensual (and strong) she is just by looking at her. Khan, on the other hand, doesn’t seduce with his body but with his personality, especially his vulnerability and dignified gaze. Pathaan (Shah Rukh Khan), an Indian spy, and Rubai (John Abraham), a Pakistani spy, both agree that they need to work together in secret to stop Jim (John Abraham). They are staying together in a tree-colored hotel room in Russia that has high-end furniture and a window with a view of the building they want to sneak into for their mission.

We have Rubai take off her clothes at night to show off her sexy black bra with frills while she looks at Pathaan’s gourd. Then, she puts herself on the bed in a sensual way and asks him to help her with her wound. This is clearly a wink. Pathaan agrees. They talk freely with each other, and he tells her where he got the name he chose for himself. The tenderness in Rubai’s eyes goes well with the fiery chemistry the two agents have with each other. Thanks to the beautifully choreographed action scenes earlier in Pathaan, we already know that their skills are equal. The flirting they were doing before was fun and naughty, but now it’s more serious.

Minni and Patty don’t get any of these moments, which is a shame. Fighter doesn’t go into much depth about how seduction can go from yearning to a gripping tug-and-pull of desire. Instead, it just covers it up with a lot of glitz. There is a lot of testosterone-fueled drama in the show, but there is also the possibility of a romance at work, where two coworkers try to figure out how to date while working a dangerous job and keeping their friendship strong. For some reason, Fighter didn’t have time or room for these “softer” angles, and they didn’t even want to see Minni as more than a plot device in Patty’s story. The main plot may have been sidetracked by romance and expressing desire, but as with many of Anand’s other movies, the distraction could have made The Fighter more interesting.