Set in 1795, Thugs of Hindostan, starring Amitabh Bachchan as Khudabaksh Azaad, Aamir Khan as Firangi Mallah, Fatima Sana Shaikh as Zafira Beg, Katrina Kaif as Suraiyya, wants you to feel the ‘nasha’ of ‘azaadi’ but sadly or not, half of the audience’s time is spent trying to understand and dissect Firangi. He is a highly untrustworthy, selfish and witty person, but there is so much more to him. Firangi’s friend (Zeeshan) tells him in one of the scenes that he is unable to understand if he is “mahaan” or “kamina” and answer comes, “Mahaan Kamina.” I guess that best describes this one of a kind character.
While Firangi’s unpredictability added thrill to the plot. Amitabh Bachchan’s daredevil stunts stole the show in first half. But, it seems like writer and director Victor spent too much time on shaping the character that he forgot to pay attention to the plot.
On the outside, it looks like a war between Britishers, who deceived the people of Hindustan invading their land in the name of East India Company, and the rulers of Hindustan and its janta. But, essentially the story revolves around Zafira, the daughter of King Mirza Beg (Ronit Roy), and her revenge against Clive (Lloyd Owen) who killed her parents. Khudabaksh (Big B) is the protector of the realm and her guardian. While the rest of the movie is flat on emotions, the scenes between Big B and Fatima have been shot and executed beautifully. The introduction scene of the duo will leave you feeling exhilarating.
On the forefront, Thugs tries too hard to make you feel patriotic, but on the background, it is a story of good over evil. In one of the scenes, Azaad tells Firangi that there is one moment in everyone’s life where they can choose the right over wrong and guess that is what keeps the storyline moving. The climax scene ends on a grand note with the ‘ravana’ (no prize for guessing who) being burned to ashes signifying the triumph of good over evil. But sadly, the predictability of it leaves you underwhelmed.
Khudabaksh is an impulsive warrior at heart, who is strong and high headed; Firangi is smart and all about survival. If this movie will ever be remembered, it has to be for the sheer magnanimity of watching the two stalwarts of Hindi Cinema sharing screen space for the first time in decades. The scenes between Big B and Aamir were choreographed well, but they tend to leave you underwhelmed. The face off between the two was poorly crafted and could have been so much better. Big B and Aamir deserved a better face off than that, surely!
If you are wondering why there is no mention of Katrina Kaif as Suraiyya, well, because she only makes a hit and miss appearance in two songs apart from two more scenes which are forgettable. No, don’t get me wrong, she looks splendid in each frame but only if good looks guaranteed decent acting.
Fatima as Zafira was feisty and convincing but that’s about it. The layers to her characters were left unexplored much to our dismay. She could have been a revelation but alas! Special mention to Zeeshan for nailing it as the sidekick. His amazing comic timing left us crackling.
No doubt the movie is a visual spectacle, but the screenplay of the movie kills the fun in most parts. The dialogues are too modern for a movie set in 1795. Very little attention was paid to the dialect and the whole feeling of the period film. The cinematographer, though, needs to be applauded for capturing the moments so beautifully in his lenses. The ship scenes were directed magnificently.
Coming to songs, while the background score does add drama to the screenplay, I could hardly understand the relevance of the songs in it, except for Manzoor-E-Khuda. Forget that, the choreography was shoddy to the T, now remind me again, was locking and popping even a thing in 1800s?
Nonetheless, the movie does leave you with a few good moments but that’s about it. Don’t go expecting magic, for you will feel ‘thugged’ yourself!