Review: Beware of Thugs of Hindostan

Looks like Aamir Khan forgot his invincible script sense at home the day director Vijay Krishna Acharya narrated Thugs of Hindostan. The movie is so atrociously stale and dreary, it makes Manoj Kumar’s Kranti look like a work of a dystopian future and rebooting Pirates of Caribbean an agreeable idea.

Neither Aamir’s hard-at-work whimsicality nor Amitabh Bachchan’s stoic presence can salvage a second of this bloated, blundering bore.

Unlike Acharya’s masala-coloured Tashan and Dhoom 3, Thugs of Hindostan is an empty spice box that forgot to progress beyond a star-studded cast.

Not only does it confine Aamir and AB in trite parts but puts us off casting coups by serving up the tamest face-off between actors, who seldom get it wrong.Sans chemistry, camaraderie and charm, you’ll find more imagination in Baahubali writer K V Vijayendra Prasad’s trashcan than Thugs of Hindostan‘s witless spectacle.

Somewhere in the early 1800s, Acharya sets a fictional reality where a cult of revolutionaries calling themselves Azad, led by Bachchan and Fatima Sana Shaikh, seek independence and retribution from the oppressing Britishers, singularly represented by an Officer Clive (Lloyd Owen).

Sana Shaikh is essentially Gamora raised by Katappa instead of Thanos. Except no matter how fierce her warrior avatar looks or how furiously she leaps and pulls out her archer’s kit, she is never above her damsel-in-distress fate with constant need of masculine supervision.

When it’s not AB, there’s Aamir as Firangi Mallah, a jackass-riding, conscience-juggling Jack Sparrow-clone at her service. His shabby, costume-y, kohl-eyed, shifty-faced enthusiasm is a cross between a lecherous Prem Chopra and Paintal’s Shakuni.

There’s Katrina Kaif too — flaunting her rubberlike frame in two songs and three scenes. If she appears smug, it is mostly because her much-maligned Hindi accent sounds so much less lousy around the infuriating phirang assault. The movie made me appreciate the campy contributions of Bob Christo to Hindi cinema in an all-new light.

Thugs‘s biggest drawback is its inability to have fun.

Its escalating stiffness and flimsy dynamism glares at you in the form of the Big B and his weary eyes, every time they look at a CGI-induced eagle soar above him. Akin to a sleepy lion in heavy armoury, it is strange to see the man, whose firm shoulders once hosted Allahrakha, surrounded by this much fakery.

The VFX are especially ghastly. The bird looks phony. The fleet looks made up. The battles on the sea or land lack daredevilry and bluster. More charpai of spears than game of thrones, Thugs of Hindostan‘s only real special effect is to make Aamir Khan almost as tall as Amitabh Bachchan in some scenes.

Thugs of Hindostan is 1980s schlock at its most forgettable. Every single gesture, smile and betrayal of this 164-minutes long drag is done-to-death predictable.

Like when the villain’s sidekick spots the hero in the pre-climax group dance but is stopped from arresting him right away so that the performance goes on uninterrupted for the audience’s viewing pleasure.

When the heroine places her hand on the hero’s wrist only to sheepishly withdraw fearing to get too close.

When the assumed dead reappear in a public gathering to enjoy a dance performance featuring the hero and his two heroines while the villain and his sidekick look on.

I looked too — at my watch — it felt like a century had passed. Beware of Thugs of Hindostan. They rob you of time and more.

Rating: 1

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