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Aamir Khan in Thugs Of Hindostan Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

There are a few ground rules to follow before you venture out to watch Thugs Of Hindostan.

Scrub away your perception that this action adventure is a poor cousin to Hollywood’s hit fantasy epic Pirates Of The Caribbean. While you are at it, try erasing the notion that Aamir Khan as the wily Firangi is trying to ape Johnny Depp’s inventive Jack Sparrow act.

If you have these two misgivings firmly tucked away, then you are likely to sit through director Vijay Krishna Acharya’s painfully predictable action adventure Thugs Of Hindostan. The key here is to manage your expectations and peg it to an absolute minimum. This star vehicle isn’t powered by a fool-proof story, the spine of any good film.

Set in 1795 in the pre-colonial India, this revenge saga chronicles the battle waged by a band of rebels against the British traders who are out to plunder and loot the country.

Khan is in top form as the wicked Firangi who deceives and double crosses for a living. He’s the kind of guy who would sell his soul for a quick buck. His cartoonish swagger and devilish glint are spot on. He’s undoubtedly the shining star of this big-budget spectacle.

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Amitabh Bachchan Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

Amitabh Bachchan as the weathered warrior with amazonian grit is passable, while Fatima Sana Shaikh as the avenging princess warrior does her bit to liven up things.

Actress Katrina Kaif has been reduced to a beautiful prop as the femme fatale dancer Suraiyaa. Her hips and her bee-stung lips seem to have a life of its own in this film. She’s purely ornamental and seems to revel in that space.

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Katrina Kaif as Suraiyaa Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

Her gravity-defying dance moves are lust-worthy, but it would have served us better if that same dedication was shown towards putting together a plausible storyline. The plot seems contrived and is filled with loop holes. If the makers here were unsure about the sagging script, they plonk in Kaif and a seductive number to liven things up.

After a point, that trick to distract us from the core issue gets tired.

While the first half moves at a good pace, the second half drags. The quest of a band of rebels, spearheaded by a weathered, spirited commander Khudabaksh to gain independence from the Britishers seem tiresome. The predictability of the story also makes you wince.

The director may have nailed a casting coup with Bachchan and Khan, two bankable Bollywood superstars, in the same frame. But he seems to have forgotten that star power isn’t enough to keep a ship afloat. A glorious opportunity seems to have been wasted here. While Khan as Firangi does his best to keep it witty and winsome throughout, a perforated storyline makes it tough for our attentions to hold up.

The action sequences filled with bombastic sword fights and ships being set on fire aren’t shabby, though.

As always with any revenge saga, the opponents are reduced to gullible dimwits. The British traders, who are out to plunder India, are disarmingly stupid in this film. Actor Lloyd Owen as the evil trader who engineers a family massacre, is forgetful.

This drama would also have benefited hugely from tighter editing. The climax is long-winded. The triumph of good over evil may be a noble thought, but it isn’t particularly riveting to watch.

Watch this film if you are a mighty fan of Khan, who sets out to answer whether there can be any honour among thugs.

Out now

  • Film: Thugs Of Hindostan
  • Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya
  • Cast: Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Katrina Kaif
  • Stars: 3 out of 5