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Thugs Of Hindostan

Updated on January 9, 2019
SKAIisTheCritic profile image

For Skai Film's a dessert. Cinephilia & Quirky scribs since '97. Jotting what's Seen Through 2 lenses of his Specs. Possessive of '5Star'

Thugs of Hindostan is a sumptuous eclair candy that turns annoyingly sticky and gives you a tooth-ache as it lasts. It can also be compared to a chewing gum that loses its flavour with time.

This film is a pseudo historic adventure set in the fictional kingdom of Raunakpur during the colonial era. A budding East India Company rushes into the Indian subcontinent with an aim of exploiting the country using Britain's superior industrial might. Their plans are thwarted by the kingdom's righteous ruler. As a counter-offensive, General Clive murders the entire royal family. What follows is a blend of vengeance and freedom struggle that is engineered by a group of bandits.

It is an example that brings out the distinction between an exhibition and a work of moving art before the masses due to a faulty screenplay ( this is also a lesson on the what not to dos). The narrative is the same old revenge tale having a kid avenging the murder of parent(s). Director Vijay Krishna Acharya's previous films have already exploited this template (Tashan and Dhoom-3). Adding to this template is some inspiration from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie franchise.

The film begins by using its prologue to establish the ideas of freedom and liberty through the metaphors of sand castles and Raunakpur while employing the animals (rather spirit animals) as plot devices in order to create meaning for the underdeveloped characters. It obsesses over a hawk while its fluency suffers due to numerous ‘squad move' shots and a redundant soundtrack.

This film has the spectacle, scale, costumes, set pieces, and action but that's not enough for an audience that couldn't celebrate their Diwali with crackers.

It falls into the trap of patterns, building up great moments that lose their tempo due to a lack of appropriate detailing. The scenes don’t function as an individual unit. Even a perfectionist like Amir Khan is forced to act while deriving heavily from his previous works (PK, Secret Superstar etc.) using physical comedy and caricaturist antics (Amir Khan is at his unconvincing most since Mela).

There is also an unnecessary subplot exploring the romance between Firangi and Zafira. One can clearly see that Fatima Sana Shaikh is both, sceptical and uncomfortable with this aspect of her character.

Aamir Khan in the role of Firangi Mallah.
Aamir Khan in the role of Firangi Mallah. | Source

This is not a Pirates of the Caribbean rip-off. It's not only about the swashbuckling on the sea but also talks about the ideas of freedom and survival amidst the sociological and political backdrop of an 18th century India. The film creates it's world and themes effectively. The costumes and production design efforts are vividly visible.

The film and the world that it builds.
The film and the world that it builds. | Source

For a movie that is titled as ‘Thugs' and is also India's first pirate film, it has a scarcity of bandits and has only two scenes involving the ships and sea. These scenes, however, are spectacular. The film has few moments of sheer brilliance – a particular scene shows Firangi & Khudabaksh pulling a stone bar to cultivate a piece of barren land, together. A plant sprouts up on this land when a key character dies (another metaphor). There are numerous whistle worthy shots (even from multiplex viewers). It is refreshing to see senior Bachchan in a superstar's avatar, swinging swords in the air.

Amitabh Bacchan as the character Khudabaksh.
Amitabh Bacchan as the character Khudabaksh. | Source

"Some issues at a glance" :

  • Zafira and Khudabakhsh are the central characters and the protagonists within the story's core conflict, but their first dialogue arrives after 50 minutes of run-time. As a result, these characters fail at gaining the desired amount of empathy.

  • The Antagonist of this story, General Clive is introduced as a ruthless brute but loses effect due to weak writing. It's hard to take him seriously when he speaks in Hindi with an English accent that too for no reason at all.

Lloyd Owen as John Clive.
Lloyd Owen as John Clive. | Source

  • The film overindulges in the task of establishing the quirky, corrupt and yet heroic character arc of Firangi who is always lying about his nativity.

  • Suraiya's character is vague and seems out of place. The film shows Katrina Kaif in a meagre amount of five scenes, using innuendos and shimmying her abs to dance numbers.

Katrina Kaif's performance as Suraiyya.
Katrina Kaif's performance as Suraiyya. | Source
  • Raunakpur, a place resembling Jodhpur seems to have proximity with an ocean and an island.

  • The film uses its background score to set up emotional tones that the screenplay fails to create and patronizes the viewer.

  • Shanichar's character (played by the talented Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) can converse with nature. This superpower, however, remains underutilized.

Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub provides much needed comic relief as Shanichar.
Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub provides much needed comic relief as Shanichar. | Source

  • Fatima Sana Sheikh's weak performance fails at contributing much to her character or the film. She looks uncomfortable in crucial scenes.

Fatima Sana Shaikh plays Zafira. The character holds importance as it's uncommon for Hindi films to have a woman protagonist with strong traits.
Fatima Sana Shaikh plays Zafira. The character holds importance as it's uncommon for Hindi films to have a woman protagonist with strong traits. | Source

"The cinematic ability fades away somewhere between the film's reliance on popcorn seasoning and faith in front row whistles".

After an exhausting three hours, we realize that the donkey was not supposed to be a symbol for Firangi. The joke is on the audience. A dialogue in the film - "Baatein sunaakar hee maaroge ya aur kuch hai tumhaare paas", befittingly translates the issue into a phrase, 'This film is too much spectacle but too little substance'.

#5StarNahiDoonga -> "Because Ramesh and Suresh need it to get lost into and be themselves".

- Sarthak Awasthi
"Through the 2 lenses of my spectacles"

*logos/imagery shown are trademarks & properties of their respective owners.


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Read the Source Material - This film is based on Philip Meadow Taylor's renowned book:


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