Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh
Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Rating: 2.5 Stars (out of 5)
Big, bloated, bombastic, Thugs Of Hindostan is a period saga that banks solely upon action and spectacle for impact. The characters that populate it are, like the thousand ships that the film launches in the service of a bitter early 19th century battle between the fast-expanding British East India Company and a band of intrepid rebels who refuse to be enslaved by a foreign power, are as flimsy as cardboard.Thugs Of Hindostan barely ever hits terra firma. And when it does on the rare occasion, it fails to stay rooted long enough for those moments to make a difference.
A gravelly-voiced Amitabh Bachchan and a puckish Aamir Khan bring everything that they have - the combined weight of the two superstars is undeniably significant - to the table, but director Vijay Krishna Acharya's screenplay and the film's big-budget surface veneer lack the solidity to guide this overwrought vessel out of the deep waters. What this aspiring blockbuster proves conclusively is that no matter how glossy a film is and how unique it might seem in the Indian context, there can be no substitute for an intelligent script and enterprising direction.
Thugs Of Hindostan is all sound of fury: there is no dearth here of cannons and guns, bows and arrow, and swords and daggers. However, the narrative weapons it presses into service are hopelessly blunt and ineffective. It tries hard to impress but hardly ever does.
Amitabh Bachchan plays Khudabaksh Jahaazi, a dyed-in-the-wool patriot who marshalls his people against a tyrannical British officer named Clive (Lloyd Owen). Is he the Robert Clive that we know from our school history books? It really doesn't matter. For one, Robert Clive died well before 1795, the year in which Thugs Of Hindostan opens. The character is, of course, ruthless in dealing with the Indians that he has been sent out by the Empire to tame and exploit.
The heroic and invincible Khudabaksh, on his part, is completely beyond the control of the Company. He spouts philosophy about bravery, trust and the courage to dream. He declares in one scene that freedom isn't a dream. It's a yakeen, a firm belief. The veteran actor delivers that line - and all the others peppered though the film - with customary panache, but given the confused tone of the film - it flits between the earnest and the frivolous - that piece of dialogue is lost in a maze of dramatic detours.
Aamir Khan, complete with kohl-lined eyes, ear rings and a nose pin, slips into the skin of a shifty Firangi Mallah, a duplicitous mercenary who thinks nothing of repeatedly switching sides for a few guineas more. His character is placed here as the counterpoint to the imperious Khudabaksh. Betrayal is the man's defence mechanism. When he is called upon to shed his deviousness, he has to grapple with conflicting impulses. Had he played the role with a little more subtlety, it might have passed muster as a variation on the classic anti-hero.
(Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan in Thugs Of Hindostan. Image courtesy: Instagram)
The two lead actors are required to tilt heavily towards the excessive - the former is overly stuffy; the latter is a comic conman who has to resort to runaway methods to raise a few laughs. You do laugh but not at the gags but the silliness of the endeavor.
Wherever Khudabaksh goes, he is followed by a computer-generated falcon, which, too, gets its moment in the sun, albeit briefly, late in the film when the winged creature prevents Firangi from turning his back on a crucial mission assigned to him.
Going by the lingo that Firangi employs and his repeated references to Awadh, it is fair to surmise that north India is the setting. In one scene he claims he belongs to gaon Gopalpur, zila Kanpur; in another, he traces his origin back to gaon Rasoolpur, zila Fatehabad. But the jungle hideout of Khudabaksh's 'azaad' army is on either side of a creek by the sea, which allows the comings and goings of sea-faring vessels.
Clearly, geography isn't the film's forte - Thugs Of Hindostan goes wherever its whims takes it. If one is able to take this cavalier approach to locations - the argument could be that the film borders on a fantasy and so we should cut it some slack - some parts of it might actually work.
Thugs Of Hindostan is also a tad mixed-up in its idea of religions and cultures. While the principal characters are mostly Muslim, the rituals that they perform reflect Hindu practices. Is this a blow for positive integration or just plain negligence? The climax of the film unfolds in a fort on a Dussehra day and the burning of Ravana, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. The cliché is couched in what could be seen as a departure from norm - it is one of the two heroines who gets to slay the demon.
There can be no denying that the film has been well shot. But the rather garish backdrops and the frequently shoddy, unnecessarily flighty VFX undermines the work of cinematographer Manush Nandan. Although the makers of this film have chosen to set the action two centuries ago, both the musical score (Atul-Ajay) and the dance moves smack more of kitschy Bollywood rather than evoking any sense of genuine time and place.
The girls in this male-dominated universe inevitably play second fiddle although Fatima Sana Sheikh, in the guise of Zarifa, whose father, Mirza Sikander Beg (Ronit Roy), is killed by Clive at the outset of the film before she finds protection under the wings of Khudabaksh, does have a few scenes in which she comes into her own. In contrast, Katrina Kaif, cast as dancing girl Suraiyya, is used primarily to liven up the song and dance routines.
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.
Like the bottomless trunk totted by "magizoolologist" Newt Scamander, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" is a mixed bag of wonders.
Newt (Eddie Redmayne) can reach into his suitcase and, like Mary Poppins before him, pull out just about anything. And it sometimes feels as though J.K. Rowling — a screenwriter here for the second time — is similarly infatuated by her unending powers of conjuring. In this overstuffed second film in the five-part Harry Potter prequel series, every solved mystery unlocks another, every story begets still more. Narratives multiply like randy Nifflers (one of the many species of creature in Newt's bag).
The usual problem for spinoffs is their thinness or their unfulfilled justification — especially ones that stretch an already much-stretched tale. (There were eight Potter movies.) But neither are issues in the two "Fantastic Beasts" films, each directed by former "Potter" hand David Yates. Both movies are rooted in purpose. "The Crimes of Grindelwald," especially, is an impressively dark and urgent parable of supremacist ideology aimed squarely at today's demagogues of division. And neither film lacks in density of detail, character or story.
No, the only real crime of "Gindelwald" is its sheer abundance. In zipping from New York to London to Paris (with ministries of magic in each locale), this latest chapter in Rowling's pre-Potter saga feels so eager to be outside the walls of Hogwarts (which also get a cameo) that it resists ever settling anywhere, or with any of its widely scattered characters — among them Newt, the conscientious dark magic investigator Tina (Katherine Waterston), the New Yorker no-maj Jacob (Dan Fogler), Tina's sister and Jacob's sweetheart Queenie (Alison Sudol) and the haunted former schoolmate of Newt's, Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz)
No one does the foreboding sense of a looming battle better than Rowling. Now, it's the rise of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), freshly escaped from prison, who casts a lengthening shadow over the land. With a blond shock of hair and a ghostly white face, Grindelwald is Rowling's magical version of a white nationalist, only he believes in the elevation of wizards — "purebloods" — over those who lack magical powers, or "no-majes."
It's 1927 and the dark clouds of fascism are swirling; World War II feels right around the corner. In one the movie's many tricks, Grindelwald drapes Paris in black fabric, like a wannabe Christo.
Despite the gathering storm, the pacifist Newt (Redmayne, cloyingly shy), resists drawing battle lines. When pushed by his brother Theseus (Callum Turner), who like Tina is an "Auror" who enforces magic law, Newt responds: "I don't do sides."
The events of "The Crimes of Grindelwald" will test Newt, just as they will anyone trying to follow its many strands. The hunt is on for at least three characters — the missing Queenie, the on-the-lam Grindelwald and Credence Barebone (Eza Miller), the powerful but volatile orphan who spends much of the film seeking answers to his identity. He's the Anakin Skywalker of "Fantastic Beasts," whose soul is fought for by both sides.
If all of this sounds like a lot, it most definitely is, and that's not even mentioning Jude Law joining in as a young Albus Dumbledore, who turns out to be awfully roguishly handsome under that ZZ-top beard. But our time here with him is short, just as it is with so many characters who — to the film's credit — we yearn for more of (Fogler's Jacob, especially). There is a flicker of a flashback that hints at a long-ago, maybe-sexual relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald; it would be the film's most intriguing revelation if it wasn't merely baited for future installments.
Siblings are everywhere in "The Crimes of Grindelwald." Just as in the houses of Hogwarts, Rowling delights in duality and the interplay of light and dark. Even within the Aurors there are competing methodologies of law enforcement to face the growing threat. Newt is carried along like an avatar of sympathy: he believes that every beast can be tamed, that every trauma can be healed.
Rowling's only source material going into the "Fantastic Beasts" films was a slender 2001 book in the guise of a Hogwarts textbook. But she has, with her mighty wand, summoned an impressively vast if convoluted world, one that's never timid in exploring the darkness beneath its enchanting exterior. And, with Yates again at the helm, "The Crimes of Grindelwald" is often dazzling, occasionally wondrous and always atmospheric. But is also a bit of a mess. Even magic bags can be overweight.
"Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 for some fantasy action violence. Running time: 134 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
Dhaka, Nov 8 (UNB) – A five-day Iranian film show will begin in Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna cities on Friday.
Iran Cultural Centre, Dhaka and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) will jointly orgnaise the film show at BSA premises of district unit.
Films will be screened at 11am and 3pm in Chattogram Shilpalaka Academy and at 5:30pm and 7pm in Golmoni Park of Khulna City.
Three films will be screened at 11pm, 3pm and 5 pm every day in Rajshahi Shilpalaka Academy.
The exhibition will continue until November 13 while audience will be able to enjoy the films without entry fee.
Dhaka, Nov 8 (AP/UNB)- Every Who down in Whoville gets a new Grinch this season. Why, you may ask? The idea defies reason. Does the classic need help from a hot Cumberbatch? Or is this strange union a bizarre mismatch?
The Grinch is the story you learned as an infant, starring a Christmas-hating heel and his doggie assistant. The fuzzy green villain hopes to make holiday gloom. Just like a wicked witch, but without the broom. He targets presents intended for tots. Oh, how horrific is this nasty crackpot.
Seuss never explained what prompted this act. Perhaps the Grinch wore shoes that were too compact? (Or maybe, just maybe, his head had been whacked?) Should he consult a cardiologist chart? The answer is clear: It's because of his heart.
In "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch ," liberties are taken. Some are just padding, some quite mistaken. It's suggested that our old friend the Grinch is an orphan, as though that excuses inflicting misfortune. There's a new sidekick, a plump reindeer named Fred, and the remaking of Cindy's mom as unwed. (Could she be a love for the small-hearted bad boy? Kind of, maybe, but look, this isn't Tolstoy).
Any-who, our Grinch decides to cancel the holiday, or make it as boring as, say, Groundhog Day. He hops inside chimneys to hoover up toys, certain to do it with an insouciant poise. Remember, this guy is the anti-merry — the same one played not long ago by Jim Carrey. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on the part, with an American accent — to give him less heart?
Our narrator here is Pharrell Williams, whose brief days at work likely paid him zillions. Kenan Thompson of "Saturday Night Live" fame, delivers a character who is kind of lame. But Angela Lansbury has a nice cameo (that woman's as priceless as an unearthed Van Gogh).
The Grinch, diabolically, dresses like Santy Claus, in an ultra-evil cloud of guffaws. He beats by a few hours the real Kris Kringle. (No wonder this loner creature never mingles.) But a run-in with Cindy, as sweet as chocolate liquor, makes something grow huge — that's right, it's his ticker.
The Whos down in Whoville don't mind that they're gift-less. They gather together, sing and bear witness. Christmas, they say, isn't about treasure: It's about family, friends and being together. Then they tuck into roast beast. You, on the other hand, may feel fleeced.
Credit goes to the film's visual effects folk, who made fur alive and gave texture to smoke. But retreading this story with a Cumberbatch, should send Hollywood bigwigs into the booby hatch. Before you buy tickets and plan a nice dinner, ask who exactly in Whoville thought this was a winner?
"Dr. Seuss' The Grinch," a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG with "brief rude humor." Running time: 79 minutes. One star out of four.
Dhaka, Nov 2 (UNB) - A 4-day Iranian film show will begin at national music and dance auditorium of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Saturday.
Iran Cultural Centre, Dhaka and BSA will jointly orgnaise the film show.
The inaugural session will be held at 3:30 p.m, public relations officer of Iranian Cultural Centre Sayeed Islam told UNB.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s media adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury will be present as the chief Guest while charge d' Affaires of Iranian Embassy in Dhaka Ebrahim Shafiei Rezvani Nejad and eminent actor and film director Syed Hasan Imam will be present as special guests.
Director, Film and Cinematography Department of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Badrul Anam Bhuiyan will preside over the meeting.
Organiser also said that a film is scheduled to be screened on the inaugural day while two films will be screened from 11 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 5 pm everyday .
Besides, another five-day Iranian film show is also going to be arranged in 3 different cities of the country from November 9.
The five-day exhibition will be organized at Shilpakala Academy auditoriums in Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna cities.
The exhibition will continue until November 13.