Operation Valentine review: Weak writing and inconsistent narrative pulls down this brave pilot

Despite the usual perception of army boasting upon camaraderie and patriotic fervour, the story fails to evoke any sense of national pride.

ByPrakash Pecheti

Published:Mar 01, 2024

A poster of the film Operation Valentine

Operation Valentine (Telugu)

01-03-2024, Action Thriller, 2 hours 12 minutes U/A
  • Main Cast: Varun Tej, Manushi Chhillar, Navdeep, and Ruhani Sharma
  • Director:S hakti Pratap Singh Hada
  • Producer: Sidhu Mudda
  • Music Director: Mickey J Meyer
  • Cinematography: Hari K Vedantam



Wing Commander Arjun Dev (portrayed by Varun Tej) is a talented pilot in the Indian Air Force. Yet, his stubborn and reckless nature often makes his superiors furious.

A daring and impulsive move by Arjun results in the tragic death of a fellow pilot. The accident leaves a psychological scar on him.

However, his path to redemption unfolds through “Operation Valentine”, an Indian Air Force mission in response to the Pakistan Air Force’s infiltration.

Real-life Pulwama terrorist attacks and the subsequent response by the Indian Air Force and how this Dabang air pilot takes on the terrorist is the story.


Operation Valentine plunges viewers headfirst into the intricate world of the Indian Air Force.

The first hour of the story is replete with technical jargon and military protocol of the Indian Air Force.

Despite the filmmakers’ efforts to immerse audiences in this world of air warfare, the dialogue feels forced and unnatural.

The plot initially seems stagnant in the first half, with little action beyond the technical briefings and discussions.

However, the narrative gains momentum around the pre-interval block as the pilots finally take to the skies, fulfilling the necessary dramatic requirements as promised in the trailer.

The terrorist attack and subsequent showdown inject some excitement, thus leading to an engaging interval that leaves viewers eager for the second half.

Operation Valentine kicks into gear after the break with aerial warfare dominating the screen time.

Related: ‘Operation Valentine’ completes CGI work with a minimal budget

Subpar visual effects

Shakti Pratap Singh Hada directorial Operation Valentine

Shakti Pratap Singh Hada’s directorial ‘Operation Valentine’. (X)

Unfortunately, the subpar visual effects and clumsy execution of action sequences only lead to confusion and underwhelming experience.

The reports of ground-duty officers provide some relief, offering insight into the unfolding events and the challenges faced by protagonist Arjun.

However, the impact is diluted by blurry visuals and an overpowering background score, thereby detracting from the movie-watching experience. Despite these shortcomings, certain moments manage to entertain.

Director Shakti Pratap Singh Hada’s effort to inject elements of suspense and tension into the narrative works well in the second half. These gripping sequences, though thin, prevent the film from completely unravelling.

A thriller element to the storytelling coupled with a ticking timebomb scenario, intermittently elevates the tension among audiences. However, these moments are not worth lasting. They come and go by a whisker.

The conclusion looks formulaic, merely serving to redeem the hero without much emotional depth to the circumstances he faced in his Air Force career.

Despite the usual perception of the Armed forces boasting upon camaraderie and patriotic fervour, this Air Force personnel story fails to evoke any sense of national pride at the end.

Related: Special premiere shows of ‘Operation Valentine’ to be held in select cities

A charming Varun Tej

Varun Tej in Operation Valentine

Varun Tej in ‘Operation Valentine’. (X)

Varun Tej brings charm to the role of an Air Force pilot, leveraging his masculine-oozing V-shaped structure to great effect.

A few emotionally resonant moments connected with audiences.

However, occasionally, he leans too heavily into a confident-yet stubborn pilot. His sequences in the cockpit scenes, executing impressive maneuvers with ease were good. The characterisation of Arjun feels somewhat generic.

Manushi Chhillar makes her Telugu debut with Operation Valentine. Unlike typical glamour roles, her character allows her to portray her natural self.

While she delivers adequately in the few dramatic moments she is given, her performance does not particularly stand out.

The supporting cast in Operation Valentine is saddled with poorly written and generic roles offering little opportunity to perform.

Navdeep’s appearance is jarring, while Sampath Raj struggles with the limitations of his character as an officer.

Ruhani Sharma’s presence lacks a clear purpose, and Abhinav Gomatam’s role raises questions about his relevance in the story.

Operation Valentine preview: Will Varun Tej break the jinx this time?

Music and technicalities

Operation Valentine falls short in terms of technical execution.

Mickey J Mayer’s background score looks okay but does not really touch the senses, especially with the patriotic song that fails to evoke any sense of patriotism.

The cinematography is partly good coupled with visual effects.

Final take

Operation Valentine falls short in its attempt to chronicle the Indian Air Force’s aggression to the Pulwama terrorist attack due to its weak writing and inconsistent narrative.

While the film showcases impressive action sequences and partly good cinematography, the script fails to support the talents of the cast and the crew.

(Views expressed here are personal.)