Thugs of Hindostan Promises an Epic Voyage But Leaves You Stranded At Sea
I won’t be entirely honest if I said I went into the theatre to watch Thugs of Hindostan (ToH) with lots of expectations. Here’s why:
Ultimately this is a Bollywood film and years of watching them have taught me not to expect much logic, or factual accuracy from them. One thing I’ll get out of the way first – Is ToH an attempt at giving India its very own Pirates of the Caribbean series? The thing is, so many major elements of the movie have been taken from big movies that you feel a strong sense of familiarity. It is interesting to note that I haven’t seen any movie from the Pirates series, so I actually had no points of references and could see this one with fresh eyes, though I am familiar with the character of Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) and have to say, Aamir Khan’s character draws strong similarities to it. They are both funny and witty, with a certain clown-like body language and facial expressions.
The movie begins in colonial times when East India Trading Company
gradually takes ownership over most of India with only one small town remaining, Raunakpur. Until one day the evil Clive (John Lloyd) kills Raja Mirza (Ronit Roy), his wife and son in a bid to take over. His most trusted commander Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) manages to escape after rescuing Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh), the daughter and now the only surviving member of the family. Fearing the impending rebellion, the evil Brit decides to hire someone to help track the rebels down and capture them. Enter Firangi Mallah (Khan) who embarks on an espionage that the rest of the film is about.
The plot twists and turns with confounded convolution till the storyline crosses over to the insanely ridiculous and far-fetched (even for a Bollywood flick).
Even though it would be quicker to mention the things that work, let’s talk about the things that didn’t. Mallah turns back and forth on the rebels multiple times. And more unbelievable is the fact that both parties believe him every time he decides to side with them right after deceiving them. At the end of it all, I just wanted to switch the movie off, only I was in the cinema so I sat through in hopes that the plot might pick up. It didn’t.
Why do the two main British characters speak in khaalis Urdu throughout the movie, even when just conversing among themselves? During those parts, I feel giving Hindi subtitles and English dialogues would have made more sense than the other way around.
And the list of questions just keeps getting longer; why are British officers enjoying dancers singing in Hindi? Why does the British right hand man have a sudden change of heart and lets Mallah go at a crucial point in the movie? Heroes putting on a show for villians right before attacking them…so Bollywood! And what I’m most interested in is, why is Clive celebrating Dussehra? Why does he care? Why?
These are questions only the writer of the movie can answer. Vijay Krishna Acharya also happens to be the director responsible for this cheesy shipwreck (and previous bombs like Dhoom 3 and Tashan). Everything happens so smoothly without any reasonable transition that the positive outcomes seem forcibly forced! Needless to say, he has done a below-average job at writing the screenplay. Some of the dialogues are dramatic to the point of being funny, and indigestible.
Some of the effects could have been worked on more as they clearly appear computer-generated, while the editing is surprisingly bad.
In Suraiyya Jaan (SJ), the song, many of the weird gymnastic moves seem like a forced promotion of Katrina’s skills and of course, misplaced according to the timeline of the movie. The run time of ToH is almost three hours when it didn’t need to be. Some scenes just cut to the next and look out of place. The music by composer duo Ajay-Atul is nothing to write home as well. The only talked-about number of the film (SJ) is half decent thanks to Katrina Kaif and terrific vocals of Vishal Dadlani and Shreya Ghoshal.
Can Bachchan’s and Amir’s star power become the movie’s (almost) saving grace?
Bachchan is outstanding in his role though there aren’t many impressive dialogues for him and he can be heard speaking in an unnecessary growl and husk just to make them impactful. Khan aces the comical and witty Mallah well, as this is the kind of character he is known for playing in the earlier part of his career. Shaikh supports perfectly for a relative newcomer.
Kaif, who played Suraiyya Jaan, makes a three-scene-two-song appearance in the film, which is why one wonders why she has been splashed across promotional posters?
Having said that, her facial expressions have improved vastly and she sizzles on the screen like never before. Although Suraiyya, with a terribly westernised accent irked me tremendously! (If you know what I mean).
ToH is a representation of the classic struggle between the critical and the popular. Even though it lacks quality in too many important aspects, even with the big names and budget involved, I have no doubt that it will set earning records because in the end, it serves the masses with what they want the most – entertainment. So the only real question is, which side are you on?
Verdict: This sea adventure might make you drown in your sorrows. Skip this one and save yourself now.
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About Sidra Khan
Sidra Khan is a true art lover; books, movies, writing, cooking, hair styling, make-up, fashion, fine arts, she loves art in every form. A graduate in psychology, philosophy and English literature, she has been a debating champion all her student life, all of which has translated into a highly observant, understanding, inquisitive, spiritual state of mind. Her one wish? To travel around the world!