Aamir Khan. Amitabh Bachchan. Katrina Kaif. Yash Raj Films. The most expensive Hindi film of all time. Does it get any bigger? Oh it does, when you think of the fact that this is the first time the two legendary superstars Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan will be in the same film and as the main leads!
If one called Thugs of Hindostan the biggest Hindi film of the decade, or even of all-time, there was not much you can argue about!
But then…..the theatrical trailer happened!
Now seriously, what was that? That was the first question that popped in my mind once I saw it. Poor VFX. A vibe of Amitabh’s flop Eklavya and Aamir’s flop Mangal Pandey. Weird scenes of Englishmen speaking Hindi. Aamir Khan acting cartoony. After watching the trailer, I thought “disastrous trailer,” a huge contrast to Dhoom 3’s trailer which I thought was spectacular back in 2013!
Interestingly, I wasn’t the only one that shared that opinion. Many on social media criticized the trailer, especially for its similarities to Pirates of the Caribbean. Those associated with the film may deny similarities to POC, but it’s all too obvious:
Pirates of the Caribbean : Thugs of Hindostan
“Pirates” has been replaced by “Thugs” to describe a group of people, “of” is still there, and the location “Caribbean” has been replaced by “Hindostan.” This cannot be a coincidence! Furthermore, Aamir appears to be imitating Jack Sparrow, and as a result, Aamir’s acting in the trailer has been criticized, something which rarely happens!
There are other problems with Aamir Khan in the film. Whereas Yash Raj heroes have been given very manly, macho looks in recent years (think Salman in the Tiger series, Salman in Sultan, SRK in JTHJ, and Aamir himself in Dhoom 3), here he has been given a very uncomfortable to watch, a weird look that is hard to tolerate. He especially looks ridiculous in the Suraiyya song promo. Aamir is known to be associated with class, and to see him in that ridiculous look in a song that appears down-market type will be very off-putting for a huge section of the audience. Besides, Aamir acting clownish doesn’t work well. I recall not liking his acting in the trailer of Secret Superstar, and the film did not perform well either at the box office in India, even if it was only a cameo. A close example I can think of for a class-appealing actor not being appreciated for doing down-market things is Ranbir Kapoor in Besharam.
There are more problems! A huge chunk of the trailer has Amitabh Bachchan sword fighting, and ends with him delivering the main dialogue (“Aazaadi hai gunna…”). With all due respect to Mr. Bachchan and as a fan of his, the problem is that he has gotten older, and he’s not in the phase where the youth would go running to the theatres to watch his film. If the film itself features Amitabh heavily, especially with long drawn-out sword fights of his (the film has a long 2 hour 44 minutes runtime!), it will bore the audience. Besides, Amitabh’s look and feel of his character are similar to his film Eklavya, which bombed at the box office.
There are also seem to be many people upset with the fact that the leading ladies, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh, have hardly been shown to do anything substantial in the promos. Fatima in particular hasn’t uttered a word in any promo, which makes one wonder how much of a role she would actually have in the film. Regarding Katrina Kaif, it must be mentioned that she has looked absolutely stunning in the promos as usual! The small glimpses of her in the trailer were one of the only things in the trailer that were loved by many and came as a breath of fresh air. It would not be surprising if she turns out to be the sole saving grace in the film!
I would also like to talk about some alarming things I have seen on social media recently. A few prominent figures have been posting polls asking about the film. “Will Thugs of Hindostan surpass Dangal to emerge Aamir’s highest grosser?” “Will you watch TOH in theatres?” The majority in both cases voted the answer “No,” which is worrying. Now, people may say that social media has minimal effect on box office collections, but social media has such a huge reach in today’s time that there is an effect. Race 3’s trailer was mocked heavily on social media and the film ended up underperforming at the box office too (a lesson I learnt, as I was expecting the film to do very well at the box office with potential ground level positivity off social media, but I was wrong). Also, the advance booking seems to be generating mixed signals so far, with some reporting huge sales and others reporting less. The thing is, Thugs of Hindostan was such a huge film (arguably the biggest Hindi film ever on paper) before the promos got released, but the promos have done more damage than good, with a poor response being received.
Now, about director Vijay Krishna Acharya. After directing the flop Tashan in 2008, he directed Dhoom 3, which was an All-Time Blockbuster. Many people online tend to criticize Dhoom 3 and call it Aamir’s worst film and whatnot, and yes the public reports were mixed, but the fact is that there was a section of the audience that enjoyed the film (I personally loved it!). The film had earthquake level pre-release buzz with a huge response to its promos and tremendous curiosity to see Aamir in a Dhoom film, which resulted in a record-breaking opening day (on a non-holiday!), and then the mixed WOM (Word of Mouth) with holidays was enough to make the film the biggest grosser ever. Unfortunately, with TOH, Vijay seems to be back to his Tashan roots, with some down-market looking things and Aamir’s character and dialogue delivery somewhat resembling that of Anil Kapoor.
Everything in TOH seems downgraded from Dhoom 3. The Aazaadi hai gunaah dialogue seems like a poor version of Bande hai hum uske. The Suraiyya song seems like a poor version of Kamli. Whereas everything in Dhoom 3 looked grand and visually appealing, everything in TOH looks worse, at times downmarket (the Suraiyya song, for example). Where in Dhoom 3 Aamir had a very intense vibe to his character and a terrific physique, in TOH he looks like a clown.
Aamir himself doesn’t seem to be talking highly of TOH. Rather, he mentions being nervous and not being afraid to fail. There have also been reports of him not being happy with the negative viewer reaction to VFX in the trailer, him wanting to change the climax of the film, and him wanting to trim the film to make it shorter. Also, Aamir said that this is perhaps the only time in his career that he has selected a film based on his character. The sad part is, his acting as that character has been criticized by many!
As the film is releasing on the biggest holiday of the year, a record opening day can be expected. There are many families in India that venture the cinema hall after Diwali festivities are over to watch a film, and they will surely go to watch two of the biggest superstars ever in India Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan being in the same film for the first time! Big solo films released on this holiday always tend to break the record for highest collections in a single day, be it Ra One, Krrish 3, Happy New Year, or Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Thugs of Hindostan will beat the highest collections in a single day record of Sanju (which collected 46.73 crores nett on day three in only a Hindi version!). However, the trouble will start from day two onwards. I feel that the audience WOM (Word of Mouth) for Thugs of Hindostan will be negative, big drops will be seen over the four-day weekend, and the film will crash at the box office on Monday. As the saying goes….the bigger they are, the harder they fall!
My Box Office Predictions for Thugs of Hindostan (all versions, all languages, all India):
Opening Day: 49 crore nett (record opening day for Hindi films)
Opening 4-Day Weekend: 120 crore nett
Lifetime Collections: 178 crore nett
Overall Verdict: Flop
Believe me, everyone, I didn’t want to seem so negative. Even after the poor trailer, I thought that Aamir has to be smarter than this, and there must be something in the film. I thought that maybe, as usual, Aamir will give the highest grosser of all time, just as I correctly predicted for Dhoom 3, PK, and Dangal before they released. I still thought that maybe Aamir could open the 400 crore club this time. Unfortunately, though, I just cannot find any redeeming factor in Thugs of Hindostan. The lack of novelty in the storyline only makes things worse. I am highly disappointed by the promos. It also hit me that as perfect as Aamir may be, he is not God….he is human, and it is only in human nature to make mistakes. Thugs of Hindostan will not only be remembered as one of Aamir Khan’s worst films, but it will also be remembered for how a perfectionist went wrong!
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