A donkey, a Johnny Depp clone, some jaded VFX and a song that screams 'Vashamalle' - I wonder if this was part of a narration to any actor or production house, would the answer be yes? Well, in the case of 2018's Diwali offering, Thugs of Hindostan the narration of the film seems to have been made keeping its two big ticket names - Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan - in mind. No, its not Pirates of the Carribean, neither is Aamir as captivating and witty as Jack Sparrow. Instead, TOH is a washed out, lacklustre effort to create a lavish canvas that has the pyrotechnics and visual wizardry but lacks the basic essence and soul of an engaging plot.
Thugs begins with a throwback to the 17th century sea-locked land belonging to a King (Ronit Roy) who fights British oppression. His family's murder at the hands of a General sets the tone for the rest of the film. Young Zafira (Fatima Sana Sheikh) daughter of the king, under the protection of kingdom protector and loyalist Khuda Baksh (Amitabh Bachchan), grows up dreaming of exacting revenge for her father and brother's murder. Despite the teasers and trailer and all those battle heavy ships, the plot of Thugs is so linear and one dimensional that you might wonder if it deserved this treatment and execution.
Aamir plays the bumbling buffoon Firangi whose job is to thug and con people into believing his stories. His hair, attire, and even that 1, 2, 3..monlogue is a cheap rip off of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. He might have copied the look but the attempt to imbibe that swagger falls flat right from the first scene. Firangi and Khuda Baksh, during a chance encounter, engage and duel right before the intermission to let us know that the protagonist of the film is not the girl who wants to seek revenge but the buffoon on the donkey who actually has nothing to do with the vengeance track. Thus, Aamir Khan becomes the main lead of the film, with Amitabh Bachchan looking weary and haggard in those heavy costumes yet giving his younger co-star a run for his money in the most difficult scenes.
Katrina Kaif amps up the glamour quotient with her Suraiya act. A superb dancer and nimble on her feet, Katrina's Suraiya choreography should have come with 'do not try this at home' warning. She looks the part and lights up the screen, but is muted and left to do not more than just dance and provide the oomph. In fact a few of her moments with Aamir provide the much needed comic relief in an otherwise dry and dreary plot.
The issue with Thugs is that it is not only too long but also self indulgent and at times even annoying. The entire premise, the visuals and even the dialogues are so dated and ancient that it makes a reboot of an old '90s show look more relevant. Aamir's Jack Sparrow act loses steam and novelty early on. Bachchan, whose entry scene deserves seetis and cheer, is reduced to a supporting act that is crumbling under the weight of those costumes and bad make up. Fatima's expressions are as one dimensional as the plot line. Perhaps she, too, is as confused as the writers who put this confused jigsaw puzzle together? At a time and age where the audience is expecting more out of content and characters, Thugs deflates any attempt to entertain or do something out of the ordinary.
Where it does work is in the technical department. The sets and prop department deserve a nod for putting together this mammoth project. Some of the action scenes, mostly the ones on the ship, are engaging. I didn't understand why Vijay didn't go all out to use these ships as the main battleground for the action scenes.
Thugs should have been shorter, sharper and made use of the talent it signed up. Instead Vijay Krishna Acharya ends up being the jack of all trades but the master of none. His attempt to excel in every technical department but pay zero attention to the writing, is a major cause of worry. Thugs of Hindostan will thug you of your peace of mind and sanity. Avoidable.
2 out of 5
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