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Big And Boring

Saturday, November 10, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

Thugs OF Hindostan
Director:
Vijay Krishna Acharya
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Lloyd Owen, Katrina Kaif and others
Rating: * *

If Thugs Of Hindostan has turned out to be such a disappointment, it is because with his recent films, Aamir Khan has shown that his script sense is unerring; so audiences are justifiably wondering what made him pick up a film as bloated and dreary as this one.

Why should a major Bollywood production company think it fit to splurge its resources on a secondrate Pirates Of The Caribbean rip-off and nobody even asks why a film called Thugs Of Hindostan makes just a passing reference to the dark, savage and fascinating Thugee cult.

The film, directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, opens in 1795, when the stone-faced devils from the British East India company kill rajas and steal kingdoms. One such is snatched from Zafira’s (Fatima Sana Shaikh) family, and she is saved by Khudabaksh Jahaazi aka Azaad (Amitabh Bachchan) so that he can teach her how to use a bow and arrow, and live amidst a band of merry men and some women, who want independence from British rule.

Eleven years later, a crook who calls himself Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan) rides in on a donkey and gives the red-uniformed tax collectors in the employ of the Brits a tough time.

But he is a kind of double agent, who collects from both sides, so when John Clive (Lloyd Owen) wants him to spy on Azaad, he plays one against the other, with his quick thinking and glib tongue. He also acquires a sidekick (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub) who serves no useful purpose, and between intrigues, gets the time to shake a leg with a sexy dancer Suraiya (Katrina Kaif), who wears very tiny costumes and does some Sheela Ki Jawaani kind of moves when they were not even invented.

Firangi, who wears a lot of jewellery and a top hat, wins the heart of Azaad, and they do much buddy stuff, but the Brits keep interrupting. They are the kind of caricature ‘gora’ fools who speak to each other in Hindi, seat a scruffy spy at the head of a table and watch him eat, and celebrate Dussehra with the natives. Pity, no cricket is played!

There is plenty of storming of ships, swinging on vines, sword fights and shootouts, but not a minute of excitement or an iota of thrills, as characters dressed in grungy chic costumes, odd headgear and tattoos,  rush about looking for a lost plot with loud background music.  Only Aamir Khan, with his twinkling eyes and dazzling smile, looks like he is having fun—at least he gets some witty lines.  Amitabh Bachchan does not look like his heart was in this film, and Fatima Sana Shaikh just glares when the camera is on her.

Old pirate films movies Amar Jyoti (V. Shantaram- 1936) and Baaz (Guru Dutt-1953) were much more entertaining than this one, made with a fraction of the budget and no special effects.

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