1795. India is attacked by British soldiers under the command of ruthless John Clive. The fearless sailor Khudabaksh dares to face the invaders and around him will quickly gather a bunch of rebels ready to give their lives for their country.
Thugs of Hindustan / Hindostan Rebels is undoubtedly Bollywood’s biggest production of the year and, after the world premiere on November 8, has already beat more than ten world records. The adventure of the time when the British empire was trying to control the Indian subcontinent (what she would do in full since 1858) was criticized for the similarities with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and for the unjustified length, but also has some elements that could captivate the public in Romania.
Madness begins in 1795, when British troops led by commander John Clive (British actor Lloyd Owen, who speaks – for the sake of Indian audiences – almost exclusively in Hindi), through blackmail and deceit, succeeds in subverting one of the Indian kingdoms. The royal family is executed, but Zafira, the king’s daughter, is saved at the last minute by Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan, who has enjoyed almost half a decade of giant popularity in India). 11 years old we will see the warrior become, with the surnames Azaad (ie “free” or “freedom”) and having Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh) next door, a real thorn in the coast of the British invasion. When Owen realizes he will not defeat the brave rebel in battle, he resorts to a snare, and here comes the slippery Firangi (Aamir Khan), an Indian who believes that India can be of anybody as long as his pockets are full of money …
One of the film’s merits is that it leads the public to assume the idea of freedom and to put an equal sign between the rebels of Azaad and, say, the Dacians during the wars with the Romans, or the Romanians facing the Ottoman invasion. Hindostan rebels use some easy-to-recognize and appreciated elements, so our audience has no problem identifying themselves with the ideals of the rebels, even if the action takes place on another continent and two centuries away.
Unfortunately, the film suffers from a totally unreasonable length and a freak scenario. The director and screenwriter Vijay Krishna Acharya may have thought that bringing Bachchan and Khan (Bollywood star A star who for two decades had no home or critical failure, as opposed to the better known Salman and Shah Rukh) success is already ensured. Unfortunately things are not so simple, the film somewhat disturbing and due to the obvious similarities with the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Thugs of Hindostan resorts to some of Bollywood’s classic solutions to engage the audience. We have a struggle between good and evil, good always being immaculate, and evil always only in the state of abuse, greed, and murder. Obviously, the only one left to evolve is the hero, in this case Firangi, who has to choose between being the evil tool or the promoter of the good. A scammer, a traitor, a materialist, and a liar, he will be tempted by the promise of wealth, but in some circumstances he will know something that can not be bought with money: the respect of others. In its original style and rhythm of the deafening and ubiquitous soundtrack of the film, Firangi will get tilted in the right direction.
Thugs of Hindostan is currently Bollywood movie with the best debut (after two days of projections) of all time. It is, by contrast, far from being the best Bollywood production in recent years. Among the special effects, pursuits, dilemmas, acrobatics and dances, whose protagonist is the popular Katrina Kaif (here reduced to a simple visual accessory), the film fails to erase the sensation of familiar and predictable, even if it unfolds in great style.