Khuda, baksh us from the ‘Ughs’ of Hindostan
so badly. A little chemistry and energy might just have made the audience lose themselves in the Technicolor ridiculousness, excellent production design and (mostly) smooth visual effects.
When you buy a ticket for a Bollywood film, along with money you hand over expectations of logic, historical accuracy and originality in plot. Which means no one watching Thugs of Hindostan was expecting a crash course on how and whether the British wiped out Thuggees in the 1830s (some academics think thuggees were a British invention). Neither would anyone have raised an eyebrow at the film’s villain being named Clive and most of the action taking place in 1806 (Clive of India died in 1774). Few would have cared that Khan’s Firangi and the shipstealing prank make Thugs of Hindostan look like Pirates of the Caribbean fan fiction. Those who noticed the similarities between Zafira and Legolas from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (Braids: Check. Archery: Check. Pouty lips: Check. Acrobatics: Check) may even have clapped a little louder because it’s one of the few surprises in the film. Unfortunately, when you’re bored, you end up noticing what’s out of whack. For instance, how does the fictional Raunakpur of Thugs of Hindostan appear landlocked on a map, but end up having a coast ? Why are two Englishmen speaking to each other in Hindi ? Who are these Indians who can blend into a crowd of white Englishmen by putting on a (bad) blonde wig? Why would Khudabaksh trust someone who he’s just discovered to be a traitor? How is it that Dussehra in Raunakpur looks so much like the song sequences from the 1983 Himmatwala? Does the fact – SPOILER ALERT – that the bad guy gets his comeuppance from a girl make up for how little time is given to the female characters in Thugs of Hindostan and the fact that the four times Kaif is on screen, the camera focuses on her torso? Before you know it, there are more questions than there is popcorn and while the popcorn gets over, the film doesn’t.