Thugs of Hindostan

wogma rating: The keen must watch on screen; else TV/online (?)

quick review:

If festival releases have to belong to the typical Hindi masala genre, might as well be this kind. It’s relevance to today’s times is striking. Interestingly, Thugs of Hindostan includes enough of the trappings to make you cringe and yet manages to keep you entertained.

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Running time: 165 minutes
Genres: Action, Comedy
More Movie Info

Thugs of Hindostan - Preview

The first few frames of Thug of Hindostan’s trailer promise grand vision and a spectacle that will last us for the length of the film. Only to be marred by too much heavy dialogue and reminders of other films/stories – from Khudagawaah to of course Pirates of the Caribbean; from the ‘Snape vs. Dumbledore’ stand-off to Main Azaad Hoon’s Azaad vs. the system; from ‘Sheila ki jawaani’ to ‘arre o jumma’.

The reminders don’t end there, Aamir Khan’s quirky character and dialogue delivery feels over done even as it reminds you of a Tarantino character. And then you have female lead characters who don’t seem to have much to do. I really, really hope that the women have more to do than seduce or be token representations in the film. But, I am going to keep that hope in check, what with Vijay Krishna Acharya of Dhoom and Tashan fame at the helm of affairs as both writer and director!

Thugs of Hindostan releases on 8 November, 2018.

- meeta, a part of the audience

A constantly double-crossing doube-double-crosser who double-crosses way too much. Or does he? Sounds tiring. But I’d prefer this any time over a Diwali release that is high on decibel levels, generic action, and slapstick and sexual humor. Thugs of Hindostan is loud, has slapstick and sexual humor and generic action too. But at most times, the loud is either tolerable or used well. The humor is not always slapstick and every once in a while the action makes you sit up and watch, despite awful CGI and editing.

And that I think is the film’s biggest drawback. It reminds you of too many other things.

Some of the fight sequences are conceptualised in fun ways, even if not completely novel. Unfortunately, the shoddy digital work and the even shoddier editing snatch that attention away. Similarly, the action choreography plays out to the beat of the appropriately energetic percussion in the background. But, it also becomes a tad much and lacklustre after a bit. Also, the action comes often enough in the movie to unnecessarily lengthen the film. It makes you wish that the story somehow moved forward during the action, like the stories moved forward during songs in thrillers from the 60s and 70s.

It is a good thing then that the humor is cleverly embedded in snappily written dialogue. The lines feel honest because the characters seem aware of themselves, their actions and those of others too. Every once in a while the humor is unexpectedly insightful and surprises you with philosophy such as ‘kill them with your goodness’ or ‘once a thug, always a thug’. It is also admirable that despite being clearly in the ‘masala’ genre, Thugs of Hindostan doesn’t have a romantic sidetrack. The restraint is even more obvious and applaudworthy becaue there is ample opportunity for a love story. Or two.

I quite enjoyed the times when the film made me wonder if things had really changed from the rebellious pre-independence times. Unfortunately, that must be the only metaphor that worked. Others are too literal. And the metaphor used in the climax is dies of over-exploitation.

The writing comes across as weird at times like the the time when Azaad (Amitabh Bachchan) is made to dream of farming in the middle of a green island. It is strange that he has to struggle so hard to grow food in what otherwise seems like fertile land. Thugs of Hindostan dulls down in the second half with the wit dying out and the story-writing deteriorating to the kind we saw in the multi-starrer masala films from the 80s and 90s. This includes the huge gaps in logical flow and things quite conveniently turning out the way they do. .

The attempt at women empowerment through Zafina (Fatima Sana Shaikh) is cool in that she is not made to dress or dance in the item-number way under some pretext or the other. But this attempt is eyewash considering a 10-11 year-old warrior girl cracks a WhatsApp husband-wife joke. Of course there is a gratuitious dancer who is shimmering with gold on her body much like Aishwarya Rai did in Dhoom 2. And pray, what on earth are these women doing to their lips and why?! Since Katrina Kaif’s sole existence in the film is for her dance numbers, it is shocking that the choreography goes out of its way to make her steps exaggeratedly mechanical and look – absurd! Sure, it shows how strong her abs are, but where is the grace?

Of course, the film is all about the men, especially Firangi played by Aamir Khan. He is a jester, a stand-up comedian of sorts and one could argue that the character calls for over-acting. In that sense then, Aamir Khan does a good job being the witty Firangi. But you never once forget he is Aamir Khan.

The humor is not always slapstick and every once in a while the action makes you sit up and watch, despite awful CGI and editing.

So exuberant is Firangi’s character that Azaad who is supposed to be this passionate old man seems subdued and in the background. While Amitabh Bachchan reminded me of my awe for the amazing energy of the septuagenarians I know in real life, such is his performance that you soon forget it is him. And this despite the makers’ full throttle attempt to remind you of his films, from Coolie’s eagle/falcom to Khudagawah’s costume and to of course, Main Azaad Hoon’s Azaad. In comparison, similarities to Pirates of the Caribbean or the Dumbledore-Snape equation fall pale.

And that I think is the film’s biggest drawback. It reminds you of too many other things. It reminds you of people in real life not because of the characters but the actors. It reminds you of other films because of the similarities and thus seems unoriginal. That in combination with a second half that loses steam and reminds you of...oh dear! The dull climax that tries to look like it is a set-up full of vision is eye-roll worthy in itself and it distracts from the film because it reminds you of something else - Hindi films from the 80s-90s. And yet because of many things it does well and others it avoids, Thugs of Hindostan might just be the right kind of move away from masala.

- meeta, a part of the audience

33 reviewers(?) - 1 yays 8 so-so 24 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...Overall, this film is worth a watch for Aamir Khan's performance.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Not one dialogue, one song is worth humming. At one point Mr. Bachchan exasperated by Aamir Khan’s babble asks wrily, “Are you going to speak more? Or do you have anything else up your sleeve?”... full review

So-So, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Verdict: If you like films that are high on style and low on substance watch TOH. After all, you may not get another opportunity to watch Amitabh and Aamir in an adventure of this scale.... full review

So-So, by Devansh Sharma, Filmfare : ...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...... full review

So-So, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...Thugs was promoted as the first film ever to pit him against the great Bachchan. The legendary superstar is a pale shadow here of the best he has been. Khan, on the other hand, crackles, pops and sparkles as a swashbuckling scoundrel. The writing of his character and his performance are the only reasons why Thugs of Hindostan does not turn out to be a stylishly produced but disastrously dreary repeat of Acharya's first film, Tashan. Despite all its minuses, Thugs is light-hearted fun.... full review

So-So, by Sonali Dabade, fullhyd.com : ...The worst parts of Thugs Of Hindostan are its badly composed songs. As for the choreography, it is surprising that it is Prabhu Deva behind Katrina Kaif maneuvering herself into poses and positions that simply cannot be classified as dance.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Given how long India was colonised, a fantasy tale of retribution would be suitably gratifying as it touches a distinct patriotic sentiment. But since this one drags along as if this freedom struggle was playing out in real time, the inevitable triumph barely hits the spot.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Glitzily mounted but caught between solemnity and fluffiness, Thugs of Hindostan might entertain large swathes of the audience, but it is ultimately too tacky and unconvincing to lay legitimate claims to being India's answer to Pirates of the Caribbean. It isn't even a poor copy.... full review

So-So, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...TOH doesn’t really have the punch or the thrill that is required to pull off a film of this scale. At 2 hours and 45 minutes, the film feels a little too long, blame it on weak editing. The grand canvas of the film does hold sway in terms of the visual experience, but at the end, this one is all show and shallow in substance. If you are expecting TOH to give you a dose of entertainment this festive season, this one will leave you all at sea.... full review

Thumbs down, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...No, wait. That’s here, too. Firangi Mallah does get around on an ass, named Nawab. In the film’s closing portions, there’s talk of moving to Calcutta. I wondered if a name change was in order for Nawab: Bray of Bengal. What’s that? I’ve meandered from my original aim of explaining why this film’s title is misleading? Forgive me. It must be the screenplay’s influence.... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, THUGS OF HINDOSTAN has some engrossing moments in the first half, that's about it. The post-interval portions are an absolute downer. The plot is formulaic, while the screenplay is riddled with cinematic liberties. At the box-office, TOH is bound to have a huge weekend thanks to the festive period coupled with tremendous hype and the impressive names involved. But once the initial euphoria settles down, it'll be difficult for the film to sustain. This one is a golden opportunity lost, a KING-SIZED DISAPPOINTMENT!... full review

Thumbs down, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...Thugs should have been shorter, sharper and made use of the talent it signed up. Instead Vijay Krishna Acharya ends up being the jack of all trades but the master of none. His attempt to excel in every technical department but pay zero attention to the writing, is a major cause of worry. Thugs of Hindostan will thug you of your peace of mind and sanity. Avoidable.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Oh, and btw, was the hawk that glides around the rebel camp, picked from Guru Dutt’s pirate adventure Baaz (1953)? Sixty-five years ago, they could swagger and swashbuckle better than these folk with a huge budget and expensive CGI at their disposal.... full review

Thumbs down, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...I should have taken that lady's phone and posted a message on her FB page in jan-hit: If, post-Diwali, you are in desperate need for a deep nap, check yourself into a show of Duds of Hindostan. They won't disappoint.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Most importantly – is Thugs of Hindostan the long-lost triplet of Mohenjo Daro and Mangal Pandey, separated at birth by tone-deaf studios?... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...The spectre of old Bollywood looms large over Thugs Of Hindostan. An old man sings about imli, Sharat Saxena tries to look valiant, Ila Arun plays a medicine woman, while Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub, who plays Khan’s man Friday, is literally named Saturday. And then - by the beloved beard of Bob Christo - there are the redcoats, hamming it up. The British villain is given the naturally despised name Clive, and speaks to his fellow Englishman in Hindi, even when the two are alone and he’s saying he’ll never understand Indians.... full review

Thumbs down, by Suhani Singh, india today : ...After two hours of directionless navigation, Thugs of Hindostan finally arrives at its intended destination. Only it's a scenario straight out of Ramesh Sippy's Sholay albeit with Mr Bachchan chained like Dharmendra's Veeru and watching an army of people dance for him including a heavily bronzed Kaif doing a vigorous Hema Malini act dressed like Sridevi. By the end of Thugs of Hindostan audiences will feel they have been looted of their time and denied the joy of watching two talented stars, Bachchan and Khan, come together for the first time.... full review

Thumbs down, by Ananya Bhattacharyal, india today : ...There is hardly anything in the film that justifies the two-year wait that Aamir Khan made his fans go through. That is the problem of being a good actor with a nose for good scripts. Aamir Khan has built his reputation on good scripts. All of that is missing in his latest outing.... full review

Thumbs down, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...To sum up, this is a direction-less (pun intended) cataclysm from YRF. It is likely to splinter and sink after the first few days of festival frenzy, if that. It might set a record on opening day, but that swallow will not make the box-office summer, or, for the poor viewer, offer value for money given the inflated price of the ticket that YRF has demanded for this shabbily told shallow tale.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The only one having a blast is Aamir Khan’s Awadhi thug in his carroty curls and soorma-ringed eyes. He hams it up madly, grinning widely: the act’s not new but some of it is infectious, and bearable. Just about.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anita Iyer, khaleejtimes : ...Thugs of Hindostan just ends up being a long (nearly 3 hours), expensive colossal waste. Not sure it entertains but it does manage to extort you of your money.... full review

Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Thugs Of Hindostan is no Race 3 or Veer but it’s an awe-inspiring disappointment. At this stage of his career, Aamir Khan should be extra cautious of not slipping towards the projects and act in the movies he’s known for. Thugs Of Hindostan will do nothing but steal your ticket money giving nothing memorable in this barter.... full review

Thumbs down, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, Live Mint : ...Unlike the choreography, which is rather unique for this kind of fact-meets-fiction action adventure, Ajay-Atul’s songs and John Stewart Eduri’s background score are uninspired. While detailed and sometimes complex, the sets, action sequences and costumes are hardly distinctive. The editing—the film is nearly three hours long—is another one of the many bugs in this Hindostan.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...Undeniably, majestic movie experiences are created by filmmakers and in this one, Acharya makes a fatal mistake- he takes his audience for granted. No wonder, Thugs doesn't rise above being an absolute snoozefest.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...The dialogues are mediocre and while the songs are good, the background score is too overpowering at times. The trite film defies all logic and you often wonder why the characters are doing what they are doing. The makers have left scope for a sequel but I strongly suggest that they shouldn’t even think about it.... full review

Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...The story is straight from the bottom of the creative keg, and they take 164 minutes to bore you to death. This attempt to pirate the Caribbean franchise fails so badly, it does not blow up, the audience kicks itself to death... full review

Thumbs down, Outlook India : ...This Film is worth a watch for amir khan's performance... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...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.... full review

Thumbs down, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...Khan is the only one having fun in this film, but that is partly because his character is so irreverent. Everyone else is overwrought, and the run time of three hours is an ordeal. “Thugs of Hindostan” is a sinking ship, and not even Aamir Khan and his Midas touch can salvage it.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Only Aamir Khan seems to be paying any attention to the proceedings, and he ensures that the movie springs to life when he is around. Director Acharya, who has also written the screenplay, reserves the best lines for Firangi, and invests the most in his appealing crookedness. Aamir Khan’s eye-rolling is in line with his previous comic turns in Rangeela and Andaz Apna Apna. But Firangi cannot save this Mangal Pandey-on the-sea saga from being scuttled by its ineptitude and palpable disinterest in approaching the freedom struggle with fresh eyes.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Tame, dull and listless, the film lacks any distinct personality and attitude of its own. To hark back to the title of Vijay Krishna Acharya’s debut film, TOH could have done with some Tashan.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saumil Gandhi, Upper Stall : ...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.... full review

Thumbs down, by Ritika Handoo, ZEENEWS.COM : ...Fans will watch 'Thugs Of Hindostan' this weekend, as it's a festival release but when the makers could burst a sparkling bomb this Diwali they delivered a 'phuski pataka'.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

2 readers - 1 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Not Interested in Watching, by Anuj

Want to Watch, by Altaf : for the trailer 4

Want to Watch, by TimELiebe : The trailer makes it look like a rousing adventure - but I gather it's more a comedy?

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Vansika

Nay! Thumbs Down, by Fan

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots of gun and fist fights. None of it too gory though.
  • Language: A couple of abusive words.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Dances with skimpily clad women. One attempt at a sizzling scene. A couple of scenes with a suggestive dialogue.
  • Concept: A constantly double-crossing doube-double-crosser who double-crosses way too much. Or does he?

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Thugs of Hindostan - Cast, crew, links

Cinematography:
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Running time:
165 minutes
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Comments (10)

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Fan

If there ever was an extremely tired looking trailer of a big budget Hindi film in recent times then it has got to be that of YRF Thugs. Whatever miniscule chance there was that I might go to the theatre to watch this junk was shattered completely by this unimaginative trailer.

This Pirate's Kranti against Lagaan in the Caribbeans caper has the only sole purpose to cheat people of their hard earned money on Diwali time by dishing out a horrible fare, charging the premium prices for tickets without money back guarantee.

The trailer gives enough insights into what one will get for their 2000 Rs. First half hour will be full of special effects powered introductions of the various celebrities to highlight how each is the ace in his field (notice HIS). Next half hour would then have stupid situations where the celebrities will get further opportunities to show how smart they are in various situations - and at the same time how fair they are all at the same time as flaunting their nationalist credentials. The next half hour will be full of how people and pirates are exploited victimized made to suffer by the evil Britishers, forced to pay Lagaan and other arbitrary taxes, made to work in sub-human conditions, etc. The last half hour will see a return to high voltage special effects driving home the point that the celebrities are aces in their fields. And in the last 10 minutes, as with every YRF film, there will be a sudden unexpected illogical twist to bring the film to an end. In between all this, expect some Thugs to ally with Britishers for settling score with other thugs, only to have a twist in the end when they decide to switch loyalties for the sake of Hindustan and for the sake of people.

It is to be noted that the film is written and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya – the man behind super-duper debacles like Tashan and Doom 3 (see my posts on Doom 3). BTW there is no spelling mistake in the previous sentence ;-)

This is modern day version of the British extortions - YRF doling out as always a sub-standard fare, muscling out each and every film from this auspicious date, increasing prices, and torturing the audience with inane film making. Looking at the trailer, my partner was wondering if it is time to leave the country, to be spared from such atrocious films monopolising every theatre in the country.

Thanks to people like me who are crazy for films, this film will go on to make a bumper earnings in the Diwali period. Only change is that I am slowly waking up from my slumber and refusing to pay for such nonsense - even if it is Diwali time. It's a shame because Diwali time pe ek picture to banati hai. But this year I will skip it, and I am sure I will not regret it as the time saved will be spent with family - and the money saved will be spent for family. I only hope that more blind fans like me wake up and start boycotting Thugs like YRF and the hyped celebrity marketing this product.

@Fan good call. And in case something unexpected happens, the review will let you know if you need to book for the weekend. ;)

Fan

Thanks Meeta. Your rating is something I am counting on to sway my decision. Looking forward to your review in 1 week's time.

Fan

Whilst waiting for your review Meeta, reading the reviews of celebrity critics it confirms exactly what I predicted above. All the reviews so far speak of a colossal disaster. Boy am I happy? I can almost predict now what Meeta is going to give as score. :-)

Anuj

Right from ra1 to HNY to Golmaal 4 to thugs, diwali debacles this decade continue to roll on. Even the usually reliable Aamir Khan coming after an absolute masterpiece like Dangal gets it wrong this time. Time for him to stay away from Victor & YRF altogether.

Fan

Wishing a Very Happy Healthy Prosperous New Year to Meeta, Anuj and the readers of Wogma.

Happy Belated Diwali from the USofA! I intended to post this on Wednesday, but you may have heard we had a big election over here Tuesday, and I spent from 3 am that morning until 10:30 pm that night helping people vote - and I've been recovering from the lack of sleep until tonight...

So this is kind of a slapstick period comedy? I'd hoped for a rousing adventure of Heroic Thugs Versus Evil Bad-Acting Imperialist English - given I've seen SO many from the other direction (every time INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM comes on television, I feel the need to write an apology to 1-1/3 Billion Indians for how we misused Amrish Puri!), I was really up for that.

Still, Aamir Khan & Amitabh Bachchan clowning around for 2-2/3 hours? I could get behind that once it FINALLY makes it to Netflix or my local video store....

::The trailer gives enough insights into what one will get for their 2000 Rs. ::

@Fan - Holy Crap, that's double what we pay for 3D IMAX here in the US! Are you at least getting those enhancements for that insane amount of money...?

Unlike you, I'm willing to take a flyer on this movie - but not if it costs that much to get in over here.

Fan

Hi TimELiebe

I was exaggerating the price keeping in line of the exaggerated tone of the trailer. Ticket prices in dollar terms should be comparable with the Western countries, although the comfort of the seats and the acoustics sometimes might not be of comparable level. What changes though is the muscle power. YRF muscles out every other film from the theatre. And YRF forces the exhibitors to increase the ticket price. A monopolistic situation.

BTW great to learn that you have been doing good work of helping people vote. I followed Tuesday's elections quite closely.

@Fan Thank you and wish you the very same!

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