The moment you compare this high-on-entertainment film to Pirates of The Caribbean, you’ll fail as an audience
Two humongous stars in the business for ages but appearing together for the first time. For one, that in itself calls for viewing this film. Right from the day it was announced, Thugs Of Hindostan (TOH) garnered hype, so much so that the day trailers were out, it generated some million views in no time. But they weren’t received well. Amid comparisons with Pirates of The Caribbean and drawing flak for not attempting anything novel, TOH ensured you wait for its release. And now when its finally out, if you are not overwhelmed, you do have a good time.
Set in late 18th Century, the story revolves around the time when British in the name of trade has acquired almost the entire India under its rule. Raunakpur is the only province still free. But the cunning governor general Robert Clive, referred to as Clive Sahab (Llyod Owen) makes the king Mirza Sikandar Baig (Ronit Roy) succumb, leaving behind little princess Zafira (grown up as Fatima Sana Shaikh) and commander-in-chief Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) still dreaming and determining to live free. A decade later, Khudabaksh is still the thorn in the flesh for wicked British. A small time crook Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan) is handpicked for throwing this thorn out.
Written by Vijay Krishna Acharya himself, the story brings forth a new perspective to history and India’s probably the first tryst with British in quest of freedom, at a regional level though.
The film in no time incorporates an element of cat and mouse race with a war between heroes vs villains, good vs bad, positive vs negative, prevalent all throughout after that. Its this quality of the screenplay that keeps the audience completely engaged in the drama. Come in dicy Firangi that keeps the element of surprise intact, with several plot twists to offer.
British are portrayed as menacing goons always up for some notorious activity. This presented as the conflict is still fine but makes the plot too dramatic and monotonous for that matter. But that’s how its inherently there.
One thing that doesn’t work in favor for the plot is history and its knowledge itself. Here the battle against the ruling power becomes that against one man. History goes for a spin and defeating the man in question remains the only motto, a weak point. You very well know that British ruled India for 2 more centuries after the time the film is set in, hence as an audience, you don’t find yourself hooting and cheering with nationalism towards the climax as history remains evident.
Also things are stretched far too much during the second half. Standing at 164 mins, you do feel the film could have been shortened a bit, cutting down on repetitions and melodrama that it entails. British officers in one scene talking among themselves in Hindi, over exaggerated Bollywoodised masala, and the fact that Firangi is played by well reputed Aamir Khan- kind of take you away from the real connect.
Is the story relevant in 2018? You would ask. Connect it to the current political scenario of the country and you might see the coherence. Perspective. Interpretation.
You wish makers gave more thought on Bachchan’s appearance in action sequences. Evidently during the close up shots in action sequences, he is not agile, a hindrance to the story telling. You are asked to believe he’s a daredevil warrior, but when it comes to looking close, you are left a bit disappointed.
Amitabh Bachchan is simply great. His persona, stature, and his body language work phenomenally well for the plot but the action sequences. He becomes Khudabakhsh and makes the frames grand. Its his greatness as a performer that even at this age, he has the power to rule the audience and command respect.
Aamir Khan is simply brilliant. Its a tricky role justified well. Its him who brings turns and twists in the plot, too many at that. He lives the role, emotes truly, and behaves within the limits of the character- a character so limitless and unpredictable. Its a delight to watch him.
Fatima Sana Shaikh has a strong role and she never fails. Not only does she look extremely gorgeous, she carves an unforgettable impression on your minds, both in the character of a warrior and also as an emotional soul. She’s a good actor, she proves it.
Katrina Kaif has a very small and unimportant role. But she lives her character with correct honesty. Bet you can’t visualize any other actress playing the same part with such appeal.
Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub nails his role. Although its a small role but the character is immense. He shines in whatever he does and you have an amazing time watching him on screen.
Ila Arun, Sharat Saxena, Ronit Roy are just okay and under utilised infact.
Music by Ajay-Atul is on-point not just with the plot but also with the audience’s psyche playing along. In sync with the mood of the film and the overall approach of being an entertainer, the songs ensure good time. They have already been hit. What works in advantage is the way they have been choreographed by Prabhudeva. The songs here are meant to be seen and not just heard. Background score by John Stewart Eduri is dramatic, a key requirement for the film. It does the needful at correct points and you feel a lot of the story telling becomes meaningful through sound- design and effects.
Cinematography by Manush Nandan hits the right visual appeal, especially for entertainment seeking audience. While at times you do feel that its over exaggerated use of VFX with people flying unnecessarily; in linear and simple sequences, the camera does wonders. Lighting and seamless play of colours aid the narrative in the best manner possible.
Editing by Ritesh Soni is thrilling. There’s a sense of suspense in the film, not because how the film is written but how its joined on editing table. The second half needed more thought though. Give it to Soni for doing the job with such conviction.
Production design by Sumit Basu is simply breathtaking. A lot of it although depends on VFX, but it must be said that its done with serious thought. Right from the grand ships to congested caves, the dilapidated mansions to glamorous durbars, everything moves well with the plot. Its a visual treat.
Comparisons are bound to happen. But a film should be judged on what it is. That’s exactly what TOH deserves. If you compare it with Pirates…, this will obviously won’t stand a chance. Yes, there can be a discussion around the fact that why TOH couldn’t be made before Pirates… or how could it have been bigger, if that could avoid comparison. As an individual entity, Thugs Of Hindostan does score. Its a decent entertainer and flaws could be avoided. Its a film that entertains you well, but don’t keep expectations soaring.