Toofaan

What is the movie about? :: There are some usual days in the big city, as Aziz Ali a.k.a. Ajju Bhai (Farhan Akhtar) is fighting in the streets – there is no hesitation for him in going on beating people mercilessly, and even getting beaten up in the process. After the fight, and after being hit on the head during the process, he goes to hospital where Dr Ananya (Mrunal Thakur) asks them to get out, as she doesn’t want to treat gangsters who keep causing trouble in the city. Soon, Ali begins to develop an interest in boxing, which seems unusual in the beginning for his friends, but he is indeed very serious about it. Even though he has the strength, and wants to keep fighting, lacks the accuracy and technique. It is the same reason why he goes on a trial without any plan, and gets beaten by perfect shots from the seemingly weaker opponent despite going strong in the initial stages. Nana Prabhu (Paresh Rawal) is the coach who makes the difference around there, and Ali hopes that he could train with him some day, and become a great boxer like Muhammed Ali.

So, what happens with the events here? :: It turns out that Nana is the father of Ananya, and after some continuous attempts, decides to take him in, much to his own surprise. But it takes a lot of time and effort to gain the next level of his attention. He has to spend most of his time fighting the lower level of boxers, and he keeps training at all times, leaving his recent life behind. He is very quick to go through the next steps, and at the state level, he is given the title “toofaan” while going through the state championships, quite an easy path to the finals. But things won’t go that easy when Nana finds out that Ananya is in love with Ali. He no longer wants to do anything with any of the two, and Ananya decides to leave their home. This brings the twist, and the later stages of life now has to be dealt in a different manner. But the journey forward won’t be easy for them, and it will make them take some desperate actions in the process, which wouldn’t provide the best results. Yet, they have to make sure that they did make a good attempt.

The defence of Toofan :: As this is a sports drama based on boxing, there is no shortage of action around here, and the fights don’t begin in the ring as far as this particular film is concerned, as the underdog, as expected, had to come from the streets. It is the kind of idea that never gets old, as everyone loves comebacks, not just of one kind, but of different styles. The pattern seems perfect here, and there is the inspirational element at work, even though too much of motivation cannot be good. The emotional moments are pretty much working, even though they are somewhat moving in an expected manner, and predictability is also there in the rest of the things – we still have our dose of inspiration, action and emotions. Some dialogues can be remembered, even though it is the trailer that has the best. The romantic side remains cute, even though often seeming like forced in here. We have watched films like Brothers, and so this one nicely holds on to similar idea with ease.

The claws of flaw :: The sports drama genre has had a lot of repetition in the past, and if you look at Malayalam film industry, there have been two, Finals and Kho Kho, which could deviate from the usual path of the sports drama movies. In comparison to these films, there is a lot of cliches in this one, and from the beginning itself, there are so many things which go on the predictable lines. The songs and dance steps also come out of nowhere, and it is time for the industry to keep them to minimum – they are not mandatory in any case. Having a movie like this without a romantic angle between the main characters was also a possibility here, and maybe that seemed to be too unusual a diversion against the safe path here. It is time that films like these go less predictable, and move out of pattern to bring a higher level of sports drama, for such an improvement is the need of the time – until then, we will adjust with this one in the usual model and hope for the better versions.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has to depend almost completely on Farhan Akhtar, as he is the one name that can bring the audience to this path to watch the flick. He has some fine moments for the audience, even though we have already seen a number of them before, in different forms. There are those happy moments and those highly emotional, sad moments. The moments in the boxing ring are indeed good ones too – those were expected though, as we have seen the trailers. The last movie I watched with him in the lead was Wazir, and that was indeed a good one – well, I haven’t been into Bollywood films much, and this is more a come back for me as a Bollywood film reviewer more than for anyone else. As his character does go for a comeback, the motivation stuff comes into the picture again. Well, sports drama has been meant for the same for a long time, and it is that spirit which Farhan Akhtar maintains here, and it is always better than rich people going on trips to Europe just because they have too much money and they can claim to reclaim their lives.

Further performers of the soul :: Paresh Rawal also does a great job as the boxing coach and trainer. Then, he is also that father figure who is to remembered in another way. As he has done many times, he does again, with emotional moments in this film. He remains completely natural in his act here. Mrunal Thakur is the usual leading lady, and goes through the romantic side that we keep seeing in similar films. She does have a lovely presence though, and plays nicely to the requirement of the movie, and there is lot of positivity brought here by her – she has the same in different stages of life. She would be even more suited for a feel-good movie, and with her face and expressions, is immensely suitable for the same kind of a film. She does remind one of Aditi Rao Hydari at some points. Vijay Raaz is the other most notable face, even though he is not there throughout the film. There are many other characters who nicely play along here, and they all become part of the whole – the signs of the same are present in the beginning itself.

How it finishes :: Toofaan adds to the long list of sports drama movies which have graced the Indian film industries, and does add some entertainment, even though there is no innovation regarding the same – we usually know what happens with the storylines of these films without thinking too much about the same. The thrills that the boxing sport provides is much more than any other, and in that way, this movie manages to come up with more, with the action background always having scope, while the emotional side comes up to add another angle here. With the release being postponed multiple times, and finally releasing in the OTT platform of Amazon Prime Video, it does have enough to keep us interested in the sports, and while the Malayalam movie Godha has us taken to the world of wrestling in a different way compared to Dangal, this one goes the boxing path, and when the sports which are less appreciated get some attention, it is always good. The first Bollywood film I watched after a long time did work for me here.

Release date: 16th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Paresh Rawal, Mrunal Thakur, Vijay Raaz, Mohan Agashe, Hussain Dalal, Darshan Kumar, Supriya Pathak

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wazir

wazir (1)

What is it about? :: After a personal tragedy strikes the family of a police officer Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) in the form of the death of his daughter in the hands of terrorists, he is blamed for it; separating him from his wife Ruhana Ali (Aditi Rao Hydari). He is later suspended from service as he murders a terrorist who was the only key for the cops to find a minister linked with the terrorist. As he is extremely depressed and thinks about ending his life, he meets Pandit Omkarnath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan), an old chess master on a wheel chair who used to teach chess to the cop’s daughter. They come across each other again and a friendship is formed between the two. Omkarnath had also lost his daughter only some time ago, and he suspects that a popular politician, Izaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul) is behind the murder even as the police records it as an accident.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Omkarnath tries to get the attention of the police department, the media and the government. But nothing really happens except for bringing more fury into the mind of the politician and his supporters. This is where the henchman known only by the name Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh) comes into the picture. But this person seems to be something more than a henchman, as he stays in the shadows and creates situations of terror for the old man, becoming more like a shadow assassin. Danish is mostly helpless as he is suspended from service, but makes the promise to protect his new best friend and play his part in the battle for justice as if it is his own. Their fates are going to join together and soon, the shadows of darkness which are cast on their lives shall converge. Can Danish stand this big test?

The defence of Wazir :: It always feels good to have a Bollywood movie with an interesting plot especially as there are too many of the flicks which don’t have one at all, and there are movies which asks “why always the same story” and while saying that, it comes with the exact same plot told in a miserable way. This is where Wazir uses its intelligence as well as the strong emotional side to become a better and different movie. I do wonder at times why Bollywood movies and good plots are never friends enough. But if you look here, Wazir shows how to become an interesting emotional thriller bringing the breath of fresh air which makes the beginning of the year a nice one indeed, as there are no mindless flicks floating around anymore. The thrills are present and so is the suspense factor. There is also variety and style in how the whole thing is handled. The action sequences are done in a smart way, no overdoing and no slow-motions; believable as well as exciting.

Claws of flaw :: Even though its short length will save some time, people will want more here. Well, we ask ourselves if this is the kind of protagonist whom we want in the investigative thriller flicks, and there are moments when we will think about having a sequel to complete this movie. The usual Bollywood fans who love the entertainment and masala elements are also going to like this one less too; for there is nothing of such kind in here. Even when I visited the theatre, there was so much less interest for this movie there, but I hope to see it get better in the coming days. The movie surely has some points when it becomes slower, especially as a certain emotional side tries to play its role. The fact that some actors are there for only an extended cameo or special appearance will also put some people into lesser interest for the proceedings. The movie could have done better with the thrills overtaking everything else; no doubt about that – but it works well as it is!

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar makes a highly impressive team here. One man in sorrow has his mind game going strong while the other one is physically fit and has been one of the best police officers of the department – both roles are played with such passion here. The intensity that Farhan Akhtar shows here should be the one thing for which you wouldn’t want to miss this one. Aditi Rao Hydari has a beautiful and at the same time, a happy-transformed-into-sad presence in this movie, and you will feel that even the absence of words speak in favour of her as seen with her expressions. I am pretty sure that she is a lot better than the overrated actresses of the industry. As I turn back the pages, I remember that I had seen her on screen, in the Malayalam movie Prajapathi in which she made her debut as well as in Murder 3; the rest I had missed.

Further performers of the soul :: Neil Nitin Mukesh makes the best out of what he has in this movie, even though it is more of a special appearance. He reminds one of the character “Musafir” in the Malayalam movie The Tiger, who has been an agent and contract killer for the terrorists; but it turns out that even with the essence and soul being the same, the existence is different, and you will know that by the end of the movie with that one final twist – your love for the movie is going to be ultimately decided by that. John Abraham stays strong while doing another special appearance, something which reminds us of him in Madras Cafe; his character will be a reason for us to ask for a sequel to this one – he can always excel in this kind of a role. Manav Kaul as Izaad Qureshi is a really strong presence in this movie. He makes quite a big impact here as the villain who needs to be brought down for the two protagonists.

How it finishes :: Wazir is a movie which begins well as well as ends well. The slowing down in the middle can be forgiven, and the shorter run-time will make sure that you will have an engaging experience with this thriller. Even when viewing it from here, Wazir is no Memories, but it is an engaging journey. The game of chess is also nicely used in parallel with the story-line. It was used not as part of the story-line in the Malayalam movie, the Mohanlal starrer Grandmaster, but here, it comes in as part of the plot; in a smart way of course. You will know better about the relation between life and chess as the movie gets towards the end; one of the protagonists do talk about a few things which relates them much earlier though. The songs are also pretty much okay here. I loved the director’s earlier movie David, and Wazir is the movie which becomes a fine start to the new year, and it is the movie that needs to watched; not those one hundred crore gaining movies, most of which never deserved to be there in the 100-crore club!

[Edit – This review was also later published at: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1275-wazir-movie-review-2]

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Manav Kaul, Anjum Sharma, Mazel Vyas

wazir

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.