‘Thugs of Hindostan’ review: Shoddy direction disappoints at many levels

Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya

Cast: Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Katrina Kaif, and Lloyd Owen

Rating: **1/2

The most ambitious project from Yash Raj Films in recent times, Thugs of Hindostan is mounted on a huge scale. This Rs 300 crore budget film is set in the 1700s when India was reeling under the British rule and the Rajas who tried fighting against the British Raj all failed miserably. One such royalty is played by Ronit Roy. When his daughter Zafira watches her family being slaughtered by a British commander, Clive (Lloyd Owen), she decides to avenge their deaths. Along with her father’s trusted aide Khudabaksh aka Azad (Amitabh Bachchan) Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh) manages to raise an army of thugs fighting for freedom against the British East India Company. In the meanwhile, Clive’s right hand man hires Firangi (Aamir Khan), a small-time crook to hunt Azad down. What transpires in between is a lot of action, a predictable change of heart and a whole lot of emotional outbursts.

This Vijay Krishna Acharya directorial disappoints at many levels. While it has quite obviously helped itself liberally to a lot of inspiration from Hollywood’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the likes, the plot also seems to be stuck somewhere in the 70’s (screenplay written by Acharya). One is reminded of those naive scenes in movies like Dharamveer where the hero and heroine danced their way out of a villain’s den or walked into jails and toppled the enemy with the help of poison laced sweets.

The grandeur befitting the budget of the film is almost there, except for a few places that it disappoints. There were two ships said to be created for the film, but they seem to be of a size that they would be too ashamed to call itself a ship and too proud to call itself a boat.

The 1700s were recreated rather diligently with a keen eye on detailing (production design by Sumit Basu) and shot pretty well too (cinematography by Manush Nandan), the shoddy direction and a weak plot kills the whole effect.

Aamir Khan plays an interesting grey character and he’s lucky enough to get the best lines in the film. Khan does a fantastic job of Firangi, the smart crook who would do anything for money and unapologetically calls himself the ‘mahaan Kameena’. The film justifiably belongs to Firangi as most other characters including that of Khudabaksh, Zafira and Suraiya Jaan (Katrina Kaif) are more or less cardboardish. Bachchan fits the role perfectly well, and does a good job except that he looks too tired in some of the scenes. Katrina looks drop-dead gorgeous and surprisingly her role is limited to just two item dance numbers. Fatima Sana Shaikh has evidently worked really hard as she is quite a pro in action scenes.

The first half of the film manages to hold interest as it has some intriguing moments but the second half dips as the plot and the energy of the film start sliding downwards. Watch this film as it is a big-screen film for sure, but it is no Baahubali. Don’t expect too much.