Bollywood is that petulant child in your extended family that is so ill-mannered through the pampering received that despite being constantly called out, it wriggles around in the house, breaking stuff, picking fights and when confronted, creates mindless ruckus, snobs and goes back to doing it all over again. Repeatedly called out for its incessant preaching and activism, Bollywood ceases to learn its lesson. The new entrant in the long list of propaganda driven movies attempting to peddle its anti-Hindu agenda is Farhan Akhtar starrer Toofan where the actor has once again paired up with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra to recreate the superficial magic of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. However, the movie, bearing the stamp of Akhtar’s Social Media Activism and his twisted beliefs becomes the chariot of the star’s ideology which eventually drives it into the ground.
Farhan Akhtar plays the role of Aziz Ali, a notorious gangster from the Mumbai suburb of Dongri who specialises in extortion and loan collection often through violent means. To grant an additional layer of warmth and empathy to the character, the writers made him an orphan so as to justify his evil doings through his growing up years. Ali somehow wants to learn boxing as it will help him in his extortion business and thus, he stumbles upon the coaching ring of Narayan Prabhu, played by Paresh Rawal.
The character of Rawal is particularly interesting because he is a staunch Islamophobe that tends to keep Muslims and terrorists in the same bracket, ever since her wife died in a terrorist attack, leaving her daughter Ananya (Mrunal Thakur) unscathed. After his vitriol laden remarks about the Muslims where he even refuses to order Chinese food from a Muslim vendor, Prabhu doggedly starts training Ali, transforming him into a fleet-footed, graceful reincarnation of Muhammad Ali, through an unimaginative 90s montage of training regime that suggests the Pokemon like transformation was nearly complete.
The movie is no Rocky, nor does Farhan have the charisma to pull off a Sylvester Stallone, but props still need to be given for the effort he put in to chisel out a body that looks remarkable to the naked eye. While Ali is the male equivalent of a Mary Sue, winning everything and anything without much struggle but with the character destined to reach glory, as the script pushes from the first minute, one lets its slide around.
Mrunal Thakur as Ananaya, whose character is strictly present for ornamental reasons and to drive the plot ahead due to her Hindu identity is completely wasted in the role. She is the naive doctor whose ideas of helping the needy and poor land her in a charity hospital where she conveniently meets Ali, shrugs off him initially but after seeing his struggles and tribulations, falls in love and one doesn’t need to be Hercule Poirot to know how the rest of the movie pans out.
However, the upshot of the review is that starting from the boxing ring, the movie chases several ideas, the romance between Ali and Ananya, the daughter-father dynamics and the pugilist’s past which somehow deflects attention from a movie, that is releasing in the Olympics summer, and claiming to be a sports movie.
Add to it some unbearable songs in the middle and a predictable and fairly underwhelming climax that undoes the little good work, throughout its sparring, laborious, exhaustive and self-preaching narrative.
In a nutshell, Toofan is a muddled, inconsistent, self-indulgent and incoherent movie that attempts to tug onto several disjointed plot points but never really commits to one and thus ends up becoming a potpourri of half-baked ideas, thrown into the cauldron for the sake of creating something resembling a meaningful storyline.
The 163-minute long runtime feels like a chore by the end of the first hour, and viewers might have to forcefully take water breaks in between to get through the convoluted plot. Toofan also showed the worst tendencies of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra as a director where the pacing seemed all over the place, the editing, severely botched up and consistency in the character motivations, nearly negligent.
The former BJP MP once again has shown that he is thick as thieves with the Urduwood by fleshing out a character that is so far dis attached from reality. The makers wanted to portray a Hindu that loathes and absolutely abhors Muslims, to provide a commentary towards the current political climate where more often not the two communities are polarized. However, by dialling up the stereotype by a few notches more than usual, the character of Rawal feels empty, caricaturish and simply a mindless prop, used by Farhan Akhtar and co. to fulfil their agenda. In a nutshell, Toofan is simply a weak and boorish attempt to tell a predictable story played out several thousand times before on the big screen, and yet in its final hurdle of execution, the film miserably falls flat.