At one of the most crucial points in the film, Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan) tells Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan), "Dhoka Saubhau Hai Mera", to which the latter quickly quips, "Aur Bharosa Mera'. Thugs Of Hindostan pretty much oscillates between these two feelings for the viewers. Two heavyweight champions- Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan coming together on screen for the first time. What more could we have asked for? Sadly, the lousy screenplay and poor direction plays the main villain.
Set in 1795, Thugs Of Hindostan begins on an exhilarating note when Mirza Baig, the ruler of Raunakpur (Ronit Roy) and his wife and son are treacherously murdered by a tyrannical British officer named Clive (Lloyd Owen). The only surviving member of the royal clan is Zafira, who is rescued by her father's trusted general Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan).
Cut to eleven years later, we see Khudabaksh as a 'Messiah' of the realm, fighting against the British with a grown-up Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaikh) by his side, who is hell-bent on seeking revenge from her family's slayers. The duo marshall their people against the British clan under a group named 'Azaad'.
To nab 'Azaad', Clive and his team seek help from a thug, Firangi Mallah (Aamir Khan). Beneath his outlandish appearance, he's a smooth-talker who repeatedly switches sides and won't even bat an eyelid when it comes to double-crossing his own pals, just for the sake of earning guineas.
The rest of the plot revolves around how good triumphs over evil. To put it in Khudabaksh's words, "Do Din Ki Dupahari Chand Raat Amavas Ki... Shesham Ke Ghode Pe Hoke Sawar Aige Shamat Gunahgaro Ki."
Two of Indian's cinema's finest talents- Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, a humongous budget and a Diwali release, director Vijay Krishna Acharya (Victor) had it all! Unfortunately, it's his bloated screenplay and shoddy execution which fails to make a good memory. The underwhelming feeling sinks in more when he takes the formulaic route to give you moments that's been done-to-death in Bollywood. Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan deserved a better thug life than this drab fare called Thugs Of Hindostan.
Speaking about the performances, Amitabh Bachchan's warrior act leaves a mark, but falls short of being a spectacle solely because of his limited screen-presence. Aamir Khan plays the sly Firangi Mallah with his own charm and flips between his character so flawlessly that it becomes difficult to understand if he's 'mahaan' or 'kameena'. Well, Firangi does have an answer to that. He's 'mahaan kameena'. The face-off between Aamir and Big B in one of the scenes too lacks a spark.
Fatima Sana is lightening as an arrow in the action sequences, but fails to impress with her acting chops especially when it comes to the emotional parts. Katrina Kaif as the glamorous Suraiyya dances her way in and out of the frame and ends up as a mere glam prop. Just two songs and two scenes in the film- Katrina fans are going to be disappointed for sure!
Thugs Of Hindostan impresses when it comes to visuals, barring a few VFX blotches. Some of the action sequences do make you hold your breath. The film could have been snipped short by a few minutes at the editing table.
Coming to the music of the film, Thugs Of Hindostan falters miserably in this department as none of the songs have a recall value. This time, even Katrina's dance moves lack the zing to keep you hooked to them. All that glitters isn't gold, right?
There's a dialogue in the film which goes like, 'Azad Ko Pakadne Ke Liye Koi Azaad Jaisa Thug Chahiye'. Unfortunately, the inconsistent direction and wafer-thin plot fails to do justice to the two acting stalwarts of Indian cinema and makes the audience feel 'thugged' instead. I am going with 2.5 stars.