THUGS OF HINDOSTAN | Bollywood icons team up for India’s answer to Pirates Of The Caribbean…
Pop quiz: who’s the biggest movie star on the planet? Tom Cruise? Jennifer Lawrence? How about Aamir Khan, the Hindi cinema superstar whose latest film beat The Last Jedi at the Chinese box office. Things are getting even bigger with Thugs Of Hindostan – a Bollywood blockbuster making Hollywood’s high-seas efforts walk the plank.
Set in 1795, Khan stars as Firangi, the kind of man who would sell his own mother to get ahead. Firangi is recruited by the East India Company to infiltrate and dismantle the rebel pirates resisting British rule, led by Khudabaksh Azaad (Amitabh Bachchan). Thugs marks the first time Bollywood’s biggest star, and its legendary elder statesman, will appear together onscreen – a momentous occasion not lost on writer/ director Vijay Krishna Acharya. “It was a little daunting, to say the least!” says Acharya. “But I hope everybody will see that we had a lot of fun together.”
Fun is the word, with Acharya describing Thugs as “an irreverent period film” in contrast to Bollywood’s typically respectful depiction of Indian history. Case in point: the murderous Thuggee cult (best known as the bad guys in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom), which terrorised India for centuries. Thugs will steer clear of the gang’s grim reality in favour of a fictional story of con men, revenge and aquatic action.
For Acharya, no stranger to largescale projects, shooting on water proved a new challenge. “We shot in Malta, because we needed somewhere that could give us water and not actually take us out to sea,” Acharya explains. “So we built two ships and a boat, and then just hoped everything would float!”
While the $42 million budget may seem modest by Hollywood standards, upon its release Thugs will be the most expensive Bollywood film ever made, with Acharya and Khan leading the charge in crafting accessible
Hindi language films.
“[Bollywood filmmakers] are a pretty strange bunch,
I think,” Acharya laughs.
“But we shouldn’t be hiding behind the fact that our budgets are a fraction of the Hollywood budgets. In today’s times every film has to be global.”
ETA | 9 NOVEMBER / THUGS OF HINDOSTAN OPENS NEXT MONTH.
RIDING HIGH Indian superstar Aamir Khan (above) faces Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan (below).