So who got thugged?

Mail Today - - WEEKEND - by Man­jari Sax­ena

SORRY Aamir Khan. We know you were try­ing your level best to cheer us up in the more than half full cin­ema hall on the dull morn­ing of the day af­ter Di­wali, dur­ing the first day, first show of the “big­gest” film of the year, Thugs of Hin­dostan. Blame it on the weather or the pol­lu­tion due to pataakhas or the fact that the pre­vi­ous night was one of merry mak­ing with fam­ily and friends (al­beit an early one), but when you can ac­tu­ally snooze through the first half of a film and not miss any­thing, shows you’ve lost an­chor. But let’s not be­gin on such a mo­rose note – af­ter all it is fes­ti­val time.

Thugs of Hin­dostan is Vi­jay Kr­ishna Acharya’s lat­est of­fer­ing jam packed with ac­tion that pits, for the first time on the big screen, In­dian megas­tar Amitabh Bachchan and su­per­star Aamir Khan against each other. You won’t be dis­ap­pointed with the clash of swords, the rap­pelling, the swing­ing be­tween ships, the py­rotech­nics, the cos­tumes and the elab­o­rate set­tings.

All the char­ac­ters look good, but that we’ve al­ready es­tab­lished af­ter Khan took his time to show­case them over the past few months.

While the first half of the film was spent sim­ply in Fi­rangi try­ing to trap Azad for the English, in the sec­ond half things moved faster. By this time, I guess, the view­ers were also awake as a lot more re­ac­tion was reg­is­tered, es­pe­cially for Fi­rangi’s an­tics.

Need­less to say the huge film rests on the shoul­ders of th­ese two ac­tors. The An­gry Young Man of our times, Bachchan – is he re­ally 76-year-old or is he act­ing there too? – is in his el­e­ment, de­spite con­fess­ing in var­i­ous pro­mo­tional ap­pear­ances, that he had a tough time do­ing all that he was asked too as Azad aka Khuda Baksh.

Khan, though per­fect for Fi­rangi Mal­lah had a tall or­der to fill with be­ing com­pared to Johnny Depp’s Jack Spar­row. More than a few times, you will see him mimic the now-leg­endary char­ac­ter, though he des­per­ately tries not to. Fa­tima Sana Shaikh looks like the beau­ti­ful “war­rior” she’s meant to be, but we’ve seen that char­ac­ter in sev­eral other films, not too long ago as Avan­thika (Ta­man­nah) in Bahubali. Lloyd Owens plays the bad­die John Clive con­vinc­ingly but lacks the “evil­ness” of La­gaan’s Cap­tain An­drew Rus­sell. Mo­ham­mad Ayub Jee­shan (Shanichar) is a def­i­nitely a sav­ing grace but Ka­t­rina Kaif’s minis­cule role as Sur­raiyya Jaan is only to please the front benchers.

In Atul-Ajay and John Stew­art’s three com­po­si­tions, the only song that stands out is Man­zoor-e-Khuda, but again noth­ing new as we’ve heard Sukhwinder Singh tak­ing sim­i­lar high notes in other songs too.

What was re­ally dis­ap­point­ing was the pre­dictabil­ity of the story and plot. It’s not re­ally The Pi­rates of the Caribbean, but it ain’t very dif­fer­ent ei­ther. There wasn’t re­ally any­thing to keep the viewer en­gaged. Even with Khan go­ing back and forth be­tween the English and the Azad forces with his con­ning, it be­gan to seem a bit trite to­wards the end of the film.

How­ever, true to his style, the Dhoom cre­ator has left the end­ing open for a pos­si­ble se­quel. Fin­gers crossed that might sail bet­ter with the au­di­ence, un­like this ac­tion-ori­ented Ti­tanic.

So in all the hype around Thugs of Hin­dostan, we won­der who re­ally got thugged.

The film rests on the shoul­ders of Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan. The story is dis­ap­point­ingly pre­dictable.

From left: Ka­t­rina Kaif, Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Fa­tima Sana Shaikh in Thugs of Hin­dostan.

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