Sea Change

THUGS OF HINDOSTAN | Bol­ly­wood icons team up for In­dia’s an­swer to Pi­rates Of The Caribbean…

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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.”


RID­ING HIGH In­dian su­per­star Aamir Khan (above) faces Bol­ly­wood leg­end Amitabh Bachchan (be­low).

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