Akin to the Pirates Of The Caribbean series, the film may have worked much better with a lighter tone consistently through the film. Simply because a fantasy of this scale and ambition requires a lot of work and effort – in script and production – to become convincing. The film, sadly, really doesn’t attempt much in either.
There are two things that work against the film. The fun element that comes from Phirangi Malla – Aamir Khan’s character – is diluted considerably. By making the plot a revenge story and a fight against the British saga in 1795, the final output is a film is weighed down by the expectations of these grand and dramatic ideas. Part of the reason is the imbalance in the characters. For a character and an actor the size and stature of Amitabh Bachan’s Azaad, he has surprisingly few lines in the film. As has Fatima Sana Sheikh, the protagonist who seeks revenge from the British officer Clive. They’re showcased mainly during fight sequences, and have very little to do with any exposition in the film. Given that these two characters represent the revenge and independence threads of the story, giving them more screen time and more dimension would have helped the direction the film takes.
The other problem that really stands out is the effort to add “twists” as a way of pandering to the audience, rather than writing it in a more organic way via the script. Phirangi’s change of heart – good to bad to good to … – is a flip-flop that doesn’t work at all. It is a contrived effort to bring in the shock factor, and the lack of it is all too obvious.
A big part of the film is the fight sequences on sea. We’ve enough and more of these by now, and Thugs… offers absolutely nothing new to us. The VFX alternates between tacky and inconsistent. But these sequences are also very repetitive. It is a missed opportunity to do something in the film that people could talk about.
The makers took a huge risk investing in such an ambitious production with a period film set in the seas and the ships. If they had taken even half the risk with the script, Thugs Of Hindostan would have a sequel we would look forward to.
Hindi, Comedy, Drama, Color