Thugs of Hindostan has further reaffirmed my longstanding opinion that Diwali releases are never to be trusted for quality. Don’t believe me? Here are the Diwali movies released this decade—
2012- Son of Sardaar
2013- Krish 3
2014- Happy New Year
2015- Prem Ratan Dhan Payo
2016- Ae Dil Hain Mushkil & Shivaay
2017- Secret Superstar (this was a good one though) & Golmaal Again
And this year we have been blessed with ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ by the man who can lay claim to the monicker ‘thug’ himself, Vijay Krishna Acharya. I say this without meaning any disrespect as I believe that only a thug can take gargantuan budgets from Yash Raj Films 3 times in the last decade and give us Tashan, Dhoom 3 and now Thugs of Hindostan without Aditya Chopra having any trepidations. Guess the ultimate intention is profit making only, which Thugs of Hindostan will achieve irrespective of what I or anyone else writes.
Coming to the movie, TOH is a 3 hour long saga of saying ‘yep, saw that coming’ and ‘nope, nope…nope’. The script is so pedestrian and loopholes so glaring that I refuse to even mention the name of the highly popular Hollywood franchise that it is trying to mimic. The movie is set in 1795 when the British Raj is quickly grabbing hold of the reigns of India and it’s numerous provinces. A villainous British General Clive is running the show of barbarism while sporadic instances of groups of ‘thugs’ emerging to raise their voices against the East India Company keep the Britishers wary. Honestly, the movie could have been set in any age and it would have hardly made much difference, but since our Director wanted to paint the screen with colours and patriotic machismo, and also with the budget at his disposal, he chose to give it a nationalistic flavour. Trust me, the only ‘Azaadi’ you will talk about after an hour into the movie is from the cinema hall itself.
You know the direction is bad when the movie jumps from one set piece to another without trying to knit things together while loopholes become as big as the script itself. (wait a minute! If the loopholes are as big as the script, was there any script in the first place!? Wow!). There are English generals who talk among themselves in Hindi, a masterplan where Aamir’s character extends the climax by half an hour by playing ‘guess-my-loyalty?’, and a heroic sacrifice just before the interval which was as fake as Katrina Kaif’s acting.
Katrina made me laugh more than Aamir’s attempt at comedy in the movie! She seemed to have got a completely different script than the others. Because that is the only explanation I have for her sensual expressions during the climatic dance when vengeance was the driving emotion for all the Indians in that sequence. Katrina was the first choice for the role of Suraiya, and why not! Which modern A-List actress will smile joyously after reading the script which has “ conveniently enters and exits the screen after doing Item numbers” as her character’s description. As if Fatima Sana Shaikh’s Zafira was displaying too much empowerment on screen that the makers had to even it out with a classic stereotypical role of Suraiya.
The biggest disappointment for me was the role of Amitabh, as Khudabaksh. As a kid who revelled in the over the top role of the legend in Shahenshah, this role flattered to deceive. The movie was so much about Aamir’s Firangi character that Amitabh hardly had any speaking lines and anything more to do than just looking pensive. His character had the right drivers for seeking freedom from the British rule and also avenge his King’s brutal murder, but alas, Acharya chose crude humour in lieu of nationalistic fervour. Aamir Khan’s character Firangi is a ruffian and one who changes sides like he is rolling in his bed. He brings the required entertainment on screen with his antics, but when the director is clueless as to the arc then no great actor can save the movie. Most of humour is pedestrian and supporting characters like the talented Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Shanichar are simply there to sing accolades of our main character. Fatima’s character tries to show her deep angst and resolve, but she does not seem cut out for such an out and out serious role.
Thugs of Hindostan, at 3 hours length is a drag. The fight sequences are a pain for the audience’s eyes, as the camera moves faster than the characters. There are hints of eye-catching fight on water, but those are compromised for the director’s love affair with slow motions and close ups. The movie tries to be an epic saga of few men and women who chose to defy the Britishers for their love of the motherland. Alas, in the end it was just a glorified circus with ringmaster Firangi entertaining us for some time, but mostly falling flat.