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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