Clive (Lloyd Owen), an officer belonging to the East India Company, does the dastardly act of taking over Mirza’s (Ronit Roy) kingdom, killing him, his wife and son in the process. The only one left alive is the little princess Zafira, who is saved in the nick of time by the royal guardian Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan). Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh), grows up to be a fierce warrior herself and her only aim is to win back her kingdom and make the British quit India. Tired of their raids both on sea and land, the British hire the services of Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan), a con man whose only God is money. How Firangi goes about his mission and whether he succeeds in it or not forms the crux of the story.
Thugs Of Hindostan is Yash Raj Productions most lavish film as yet. Shot extensively in Malta, Thailand and Mehrangarh, the film is a period extravaganza unlike anything you’ve seen before. No expense is spared to bring the high seas adventure to life. Two seaworthy ships were apparently converted into giant sets to showcase sea battles. And all those frames of Indian pirates jumping ships and harrowing the British are truly world class. The action choreography is brilliant as well. Be it swordplay as displayed by Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan or archery as displayed by Fatima Sana Shaikh, it’s all nicely done. The fight scenes in the climax where Fatima kicks some butt literally flying across the landscape with the help of curtain cloth reminds one of Hong Kong cinema. As long as some sort of action — and there is plenty of it — keeps happening you don’t get bored.
The problem with Thugs Of Hindostan is that it’s too long by modern standards. What could have been a crisp adventure drags on and on. We all like swashbucklers and despite the Pirates Of The Caribbean overtones, it could yet have been an engrossing film if it was edited properly. But it could only have been edited properly if it was written well.The film falls flat in the writing department. The plot reminds you of masala potboilers of the ’80s. What worked in that era — and even that was better written — may not necessarily work today. It’s a criminal waste to take actors the calibre of Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan and have them flounder because of lack of material. They are so good that they lift the film up by their mere presence. But even their combined presence goes in vain after a while. Mr Bachchan’s baritone, his histrionics or Aamir Khan’s ever changing expressions also need some foundation to fall back on. But the lack of a concrete screenplay, a coherent story, makes everything fall down like the sandcastle we see in the beginning.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub’s character of Shanichar was totally not needed. Katrina Kaif has two songs and a couple of scenes and even Fatima Sana Shaikh is reduced to being a gymnast here, despite having more screen time than Katrina. The firang actors, be it Lloyd Owen, who plays Clive or Gavin Marshall, who plays Clive’s second-in-command, are reduced to playing caricatures. Mr Bachchan as Khudabaksh, for whom azadi is an idea that should be planted in everyone’s hearts and minds is someone you root for because the actor makes sure his angst speaks to you. And Aamir as Firangi, is someone you can relate to because the actor portrays it with the right amount of cynicism, the right amount of grey shade. If only we had more of their confrontation scenes together, Thugs Of Hindostan would have been an infinitely better film…
Trailer : Thugs of Hindostan