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 Agni Pankh
Director :
Starring :
 Sanjiv Puri
 Jimmy Shergill, Rahul Dev, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Shamita Shetty, Richa Pallod, Divya Dutta.

By By Subhash K Jha, IANS

What would you call "Top Gun" with songs in it? "Top Gana?" Or you could call it "Agni Pankh" and be done with it.

This is a masala version of that 1986 Hollywood smasher "Top Gun" starring Jimmy (Tom Cruise) Shergill looking cool and in control as a fighter pilot staving off several amorous inclinations until true love strikes in the demure form of Richa Pilot...sorry, Pallod.

Each time she says the word pilot (and it's quite often) she pronounces it as 'pile-late'. Maybe they brought her in late?

And you feel kind of sorry for Jimmy's character Siddharth's taste in women. Pallod, lucky woman, has both Jimmy and the resident beefcake Sameer Dharmadhikari vying for her attention.

When she opts for Jimmy, Sameer gets naughty and shows her Jimmy's photo-album of all his previous girl friends. Pallod screams at Shergill. He drowns himself not in drinks but in clouds. Oh, the advantages of being a pilot in love! They take my breath away....

Why on earth would a nice clean-cut air force pilot keep photographs of all the women he has dated? And how hot are these pictures? We never get to know because "Agni Pankh" is a farm-fresh healthy patriotic film where the Indian flag gets to make a guest appearance at least once every 25 minutes.

Even when Jimmy is courting Pallod, he slips in a comment about how we forget the flag after January 26.

Jimmy also slips in some very nasty comments on our neighbours when he's taken prisoner of war in Pakistan. Sample this: "It won't take us long to take back whatever part of Kashmir we gave you. And we'll also take Lahore as dahej (dowry)."

Tch tch! Not very neighbourly, Jimmy. Especially at a time when we're all looking at peace across the border.
The Pakistani side is represented by a general who looks suspiciously like Musharraf. Then there's a villainous pair of army men played by Shrivallabh Vyas and Ashish Vidyarthi who behave like politically incorrect grandsons of Gabbar Singh, scowl, sneer, sinister laugh and all.

By the time the duo stops scowling and sneering, our three heroes, along with a long-forgotten prisoner of war from 1971 (played by Kiran Kumar) have already hopped skipped and run back to the safety of 'Apna Bharat Mahaan'. The flag is the best way to circumvent flak. And if you add a dash of Pakistan-bashing to the patriotic brew, you're pretty much on a roll.

Or so "Agni Pankh", with its not-entirely-unappealing mix of aerobatics, romantic poetry and jingoism, begins to believe. Apart from stray films like "Sangam" and "Aradhana", where the heroes were fighter pilots, no Hindi movie has taken an aerial view of the cinema with such topographical temerity.

The film's lone USP is its Kashmir locations. Rather than stop and stare in reclaimed wonderment at the scenic beauty of the valley, cinematographer Inderjit Bansal is appointed to capture the heroes in action.

And that includes Shamita Shetty, who as one of the fighter pilots reveals some spunk in her early scenes, downing tequilas in the bar as though they (the bars, not the tequilas) were going out of fashion.

But the minute she realizes she loves her buddy Sameer, she gets into a sari to sing a devotional bhajan with trembling lips.

What's the connection? To be fair, the cast is pleasant to watch. Divya Dutta in a brief role as Rahul Dev's object of adoration is heart wrenching doing the stunned-widow's act.

Jimmy Shergill, Rahul Dev and Sameer Dharmadhikari look like, in the words of Pallod, pile-lates. If only the film could fly as high as the institution it aims to honour.

In spite of those exhilarating scenes of planes flying there's inertness at the film's heart.

Though Rahul Dev recites love poetry with feeling it gets lost in transmission.

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