Movie Review: ‘Thugs Of Hindostan’
Opened: 8 November 2018
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Lloyd Owen, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Ronit Roy
Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Producer: Aditya Chopra
There’s a stoic character named Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) in the colossally mounted Thugs of Hindostan -- a name that literally translates to ‘May the Almighty spare you’, which is literally akin to what one hopes for while sitting through this mess. That by some miracle, some divine intervention, you’re spared the torture of enduring this shipwreck of a film, which meanders aimlessly from one insignificant plot-point to another, blissfully unaware of where it’s actually supposed to be based or where it wants to go.
To be fair, you know there’s something horribly wrong at the very onset when the only thing you’re looking forward to in a film that unabashedly gloats about the coming together of two supposed acting legends (this is Aamir Khan’s first film with Bachchan), is Katrina Kaif, who bless her soul, is known for anything but her acting talent. Kaif to her credit, looks gorgeous in her cameo (yes that’s all it is — she’s there for approximately all of twelve minutes, if you include the two five minute songs which are a welcome distraction, but nearly as pointless as the film itself).
Thugs of Hindostan is based on Philip Meadows Taylor’s novel Confessions of a Thug, and revolves around a benevolent thug Khudabaksh, whose gang of rebels attempt to thwart and overpower the growing British rule, specifically, a ruthless British colonel (Lloyd Owen as a caricaturish, Hindi spouting antagonist) in India during the early 18th century. Amidst all this chaos, we also have Firangi Mohla (Khan), a double-crossing scoundrel who’s set the near impossible task by those pesky Brits, of capturing the rebellion’s mysterious leader, and a mission for vengeance centering around the latter’s aide Zafira (Dangal’s Fatima Sana Shaikh), and a courtesan (Kaif), who’s there to up the glamour quotient and precious little else. And that effectively is all it is in a nutshell in this film devoid of any entertainment, depth or mirth.
Touted as Yash Raj Films’ costliest film till date, Thugs Of Hindostan is, put simply, a travesty of a film and a squandered opportunity with its hap-hazard screenplay, grating performances, slipshod direction, ropey CGI and the general feeling that literally most of its predominantly talented cast was held at gunpoint to mouth the dullest of lines, because hey! We have Bachchan and Khan to do the heavy-lifting so we don’t really need to have a cohesive script.
Never, at least in recent memory, have I been so utterly underwhelmed and disengaged with the goings on in a film that drags so relentlessly for three hours and, consistently and superficially, tries to sell me a jingoistic plot and that too by characters I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about. Seriously? What were Aditya Chopra and Vijay Krishna Acharya smoking when they conceptualised this epic turd?
In a recent interview Khan compared his grating, smug character in this film to his Munna from Rangeela and that couldn’t have been further from the truth, if he tried. Who was he kidding? At least we empathised with Munna –- when his rouguish character suffers heartbreak you want to believe, and to an extent comfort him. By and large, that’s not the case here at all. To his credit, Khan’s Firangi’s does work in fits and starts and is literally the only reason you endure this yawn-fest — in the dire hope that things may eventually pick up and get better. Side note. They don’t.
In a similar vein, it’s unclear as to why Fatima Sana Shaikh was cast as the focal point in such a lavishly mounted film. Sure she was earnest and even likeable in Dangal, but here she has exactly one expression throughout, and it’s a mystery as to why Khan feels she has the ‘it factor’– because she’s blander than the wall I’m staring at, and completely lacking in charisma. Lead actress material, she most definitely is not, even if she is decent in some semi-impressive action sequences.
It’s not entirely her fault either though. Hers and practically every other character is so poorly written and one dimensional it’s hard to give a flying f… about what happens to them and how it all ultimately culminates. To be fair, Bachchan valiantly tries to inject his morose character with some charisma, but even his talent can’t rescue this film from its unending depths of mediocrity.
I had called it here. From the film’s initial trailer I was still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, scathing reviews notwithstanding, but to my dismay, the film turned out to be worse, much worse, than even I’d anticipated.
To sum up, do yourself a favour and don’t let these thugs mug you off of your well-earned cash. One and half stars for a few action scenes, Bachchan and Kaif’s dances. And that’s being kind.