Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off-Duty tells the story of, er, a soldier (Akshay Kumar) who goes home on a holiday but instead ends up back on “duty” when he tries to unravel a terrorist plot, catch the sleeper cells, and bring down their leader (Freddy Daruwala) all in one go. While he’s at it, he’s also busy romancing Saiba (Sonakshi Sinha), a girl his parents make him meet the very day that he is back.
And thus begins the biggest problem of Holiday: the unnecessary love angle that makes the film a lot longer than it needs to be (and since it’s pushing three hours, this is a valid concern). Sonakshi’s presence in the film is merely ornamental; she has even less screen time in this one than she does in some of the other hero-driven films she has done. In fact, if this entire subplot were done away with, it would have taken away nothing from the core story – and would have actually made the entire film a lot more watchable. Mostly because then we would have avoided a half-baked love story, random songs that break the pace of the film, and – as is practically a prerequisite in masala movies – a large dose of misogyny.
It is ridiculous that we still have to watch movies where stalking is considered an appropriate expression of love, and where the lead heroine tells the guy that, since it’s their first date, he can tell her to do whatever he wants and she will have to comply. No matter how many times people end up pointing these things out, though, it feels like Bollywood masala filmmakers thrive on concepts like these. So we end up having to sit through this drivel, film after film, with the hope that we can look past it and concentrate on the film otherwise.
The core story of Holiday, too, is riddled with plot holes and implausibility. The most baffling moment comes when a dozen army officers trail terrorists across the city. The whole situation is difficult to believe – how these officers don’t think twice about carrying out their operation while dressed in suits (what happened to being inconspicuous?!), and how one well-trained terrorist does not realise he’s being followed by 12 men (who, as we established, are not inconspicuous). What’s even more confusing is how it takes Akshay’s character so long to realise the ‘mistake’ in his plan when it’s glaringly obvious to viewers right from the beginning.
Still, should you be willing to leave your brain at home (which, really, we should not be expected to do for a thriller film!) then Holiday could be a mildly entertaining watch. It certainly features Akshay in all his glory, doing action and stunts that will elicit whistles. But the random romance subplot really takes away from the film, making it a much slower watch than it should have ideally been.