The grandeur, the scale, the coming together of Big B and Mr. Perfect, the talent of Fatima Sana Shaik and the glamour quotient of Katrina, the gloss associated with Vijay Krishna Acharya, not to mention the back up of the project by Aditya Chopra, one would believe that everything is going in favour of the Thugs but the narrative falls flat. It deepens its one-way journey towards the abyss and resultantly ToH is one excruciating journey that is dusty and noisy without much purpose or even the celluloid drama associated with productions of this kind.
The film introduces each of the characters: Khudbaksh Azad (Amitabh) Firangi Mallan (Aamir Khan) Zafira (Fatima Sana Shaik) the daughter of the assassinated King (Ronit Roy) Clive (Lloyd Owen) and Surraiyya (Katrina Kaif) painstakingly and ineffectively. Each of them have a lacklustre entry into the film and show that they have handed themselves over to the costume designer more than to the director. The story has it that the East India Company is ruthlessly pitting down local kings and acquiring their kingdoms. One of the kings is Mirza (Ronit). While he, his wife and son are killed, his daughter Zafira is saved by old reliable Azad. The movie then takes a quantum leap in time when young Zafira is Azad’s deputy leading a guerrilla war against the Company officials and Clive in particular. On the other hand is Firangi who is on a donkey ride making a fool of everyone and anyone he meets. He fails with his tricks with the audience though!! He is willing to sell anything for a few British coins. He is constantly doublecrossing everyone and has a low credibility rate and high-performance rate.
He soon wins for a while the trust of Azad after worming himself into the revolt camp planted as a mole to help the British. Reels and reels of stunts and fights over the heavy seas, rivers and rough terrain lead to warlike scenes erupting at will and a mock fight between the caricatured British and the cardboard sized patriots.
Truly the major undoing of the narrative is the length of the film. Well, given the scale one would have thought that the script has its punch moments and thus length does not matter. Far from true. Amitabh is carrying more weight than responsibility in the film. He simply fails to translate the heroic passion of the fighter. All the effort appears in wearing heavy costume and a tired angry look. The hawk is a reminder of Coolie and his heavy costume of Shahenshah, but the anger is missing. Aamir appears to have taken the role too casually and there is visible absence of the trademark commitment. He seems to be having fun.
Katrina is stiff to a fault and woefully miscast as danseuse in a period drama. In fact, at one stage she throws off her Thug costume and barters it for her wear. Resultantly the characters are lost in their costumes as the script is in a drab thrill tell episodical narrative. This costume period drama is more costume than drama. It is irreparably long to engage the attention of the viewer. The Big B meets Aamir tale is a non-starter. Wonder how the two artists agreed to a script that is blatantly bland. This time the fireworks in the Diwali season fail to take off.