Thugs of Hindostan an Impartial Review
November 8 was marked on my calender for two reasons, one being my father's birthday and second because of Thugs of Hindostan. "What a coincidence I thought to myself", this would be the perfect gift for my father as he was an Amitabh fan since Zanjeer but boy I was wrong.
Is Thugs of Hindostan an Indian version of Pirates of the Caribbean? No, but Firangi did remind a lot of Jack Sparrow. Firangi was two faced, greedy, witty, goofy and drunk at times just like Jack. Sometimes you feel like Vijay Krishna Acharya did a great deal of research on Jack Sparrow before starting with the project. However you can't say Aamir Khan copied Johnny Depp because this goofiness was a primary trait in most characters played by Aamir Khan in the 90s. There was a lot of chuckle moments when Firangi was on screen and only when Firangi was on screen. Firangi managed to betray everyone he met in the movie at one point or the other sometimes even twice. I believe he has betrayed at-least five times in the film. It started off well with the Nawabs and Surraiya, then it was repeated over and over again until it became a Firangi Only show. It was so overdone that it felt like it was the audience slapping him through Zafira at the final sequence of the film.
The movie begins in 1795 with Zafira's childhood where she stands helpless watching her family being murdered by John Clive and the movie ends with Zafira taking revenge with the help of Firangi and Khudabaksh and becoming the ruler of her father's kingdom. This character required more dialogues and screen time considering the relevance of her character to the story. Zafira was like Will turner to Pirates of the Caribbean, the audience have to connect with her and 'No', waking from a nightmare isn't enough. I don't think Fatima Sana Sheikh had even one proper dialogue in the first half.
Amitabh Bachchan killed it. Khudabaksh looked grand, Amitabh Bachchan's height, voice, posture all complemented well with the character. The fact that he did all those fight scenes at this age deserve praise. Its just not possible to talk about Khudabaksh and ignore the magical hawk. I believed for a moment that the hawk was Khudabaksh in spirit form, would have worked well but surprise, Kudhabaksh returns from hell.
I may be the only one saying this but Katrina Kaif's role was perfect. A sexy dancer admired my many men helps Azaad soldiers get into an exclusive Dussehra party. She had the right amount of screen time and dialogues for the character but since her character isn't that relevant to the story her role should be termed as more of a guest role rather than calling it main cast. It would have been interesting if her involvement in the film was kept a surprise because since she was introduced as a female lead, there were times when I went "Where's Katrina?"
VFX and Fight scenes
The movie was made with a staggering Rs 300 crore budget which would come up to about 40 million dollars and movies of this ambition would cost around 200 million in hollywood terms. However the production value looked top notch, the sets, VFX and fight scenes were all very impressive. Yes, there were some moments when the VFX looked a bit off, kind of cartoonish but its not significant enough to complain. All the fight scenes were beautifully choreographed and well executed. At first I thought Amitabh Bachchan would make the combat weak but that was not the case he looked fierce like Bheeshma from Mahabharatha. The VFX and fight scenes earns a huge thumbs up.
Remember the 90s and 80s when the good guys all threw a dance performance for the villain for a surprise attack. In those days the setting was small but in "Thugs of Hindostan" its a huge courtyard. And like the cherry on a blueberry cliche cake we have Khudabaksh held in chains during the dance.
At the climax there is a scene where Khudabaksh and the Azaad thugs get inside the effigy of Ravana for a very cinematic entry to kill Clive. They were in formation and came out bursting from the chest of Raavana. Why do they have to come out of an effigy which was built to be burned. It was like the perfect cringe moment for me.
In the first half, Khudabaksh, Zafira and the rest of the Azaad soldiers form a statue formation. They are covered in something like clay and stays still very convincingly like a statue until it starts raining and they break formation to attack.
Firangi betrays the Nawabs by leading thieves to their location and then betrays the thieves by leading Britishers to their location. This was the first time Firangi's two faced nature was shown and it was splendid.
Khudabaksh and Firangi starts sword fighting and it felt quite special having two legends go up against each other like that. Hats off to the choreography team because it didn't feel stretched like those typical Indian commercial movies.
Thugs of Hindostan had high potential but went wasted. Vfx and fight scenes are complimentary, its the story that really matters. Nobody talked about the waterfall and vfx in baahubali it was "Why Kattapa killed Baahubali" that made people watch it over and over again. Being an Aamir Khan fan it hurts to admit that the perfectionist should have failed this time. Thugs of Hindostan will not be remembered and will not become an iconic part of Indian cinema.