Thugs of Hindostan (2018)
February 17, 2019 9:31 PM - Subscribe

In the 18th century, the British East India Company is pitted against Khudabaksh, a "Thug of the Seas" fighting to liberate his country. The English, not knowing how to defeat him, call on a talented con artist, Firangi Mallah.
posted by DirtyOldTown (3 comments total)
The reviews warned me this would be an overlong attempt at concocting a Bollywood Pirates of the Caribbean with lackluster musical scenes, only partially redeemed by big time production design and Aamir Khan.

I hoped the reviews were wrong.

They were not. You could do a lot worse for a Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow stand-in than Khan as Firangi. But the rest doesn't rise to that level.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:35 PM on February 17, 2019

with lackluster musical scenes

I haven't seen the movie yet, but, dang it, I like the two dance scenes I saw. Vashmalle is a fine drinking song and the dancing is amusing, Suraiyya sounds a bit disconcertingly like a Disney movie song though not a bad one I guess but I liked the dance.

Was even Amitabh Bachchan disappointing? That'd be sad.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:17 AM on February 18, 2019

The songs themselves are okay. But the cinematography supporting them, and to a lesser extent the choreography within them, is wrongheaded and flat.

They reminded me of when I rewatched the original Annie with my kid recently. They're the work of a director who either didn't bother to learn the language of onscreen musical scenes or who thought he could make up his own... and was wrong.

There are way too many close-ups here and the camera movement tends to be sluggish or inert. When the camera does go wide, it's often weirdly still, leaving one person (usually Bachchan) bopping around awkwardly in a still frame alone. Instead of being an injection of energy and dynamism, they feel like the movie grinding to a halt.

Please note that I picked Annie as a point of comparison because the songs from that film are great. My primary problem with the numbers in ToH isn't the songs themselves. It's how they're shot.

If you haven't seen Annie in a while, go back and check out how, for instance, "Hard Knock Life" is staged and shot. It's shockingly bad. Huston manages to make it seem both small and crowded.

I haven't finished the whole thing yet, so maybe there's a gem later in the film I didn't see yet. But Acharya really doesn't seem to know what he is doing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:45 AM on February 18, 2019

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