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'Toofaan' review: Farhan Akhtar’s turn as a boxer proves to be a storm in a teacup

Ambica Sachin /Dubai
ambica@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 16, 2021

(AMBICASACHINNG)

The stereotypical action shot of a glove clad fist pummeling into a sweaty face and the slow-motion effect of the punch on human flesh is a classic trope seen in most boxing dramas.

In Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Toofaan, out on Amazon Prime, these stylized shots are used to great effect. Having a muscular Farhan Akhtar play the underdog who fights against all odds to rise in the sporting arena, doesn’t hurt either.

READ MORE: Farhan Akhtar says 'Toofaan' stresses on love and forgiveness

As Aziz Ali, the banian-clad roadside goon (a Muhammad Ali fanboy to boot) from Dongri hired by a local don (Vijay Raaz, grossly under utilised in a minuscule appearance) to extort rents from shop owners, Akhtar plays to the gallery.

All the traditional tapori tropes are utilised - the knotted shirt and bindaas attitude, the gangster with a heart of gold who can pummel 5-6 guys with his bare fists and break into a street dance surrounded by adoring orphans, the pretty upper class girl who falls for the good-hearted ruffian.

Toofaan projects Ajju Bhai as a rough around the edges street fighter who rises up the rank to rewrite boxing history. Mrunal Thakur as Dr Ananya Prabhu is sweet though we never quite understand the attraction between her and Aziz unless like us of course she fell for his ripped arms and all that talk about wanting to lead a life of ‘izzat’ (respect).

Paresh Rawal as renowned boxing coach Nana Prabhu is suitably tough though he is made to mouth some inane ‘derogatory’ comments that is least convincing. Even Aziz's sidekick, played by Hussain Dalal is only called upon to break into a dance and chaperon the hero around town.

Does Toofaan go beyond a conventional sports drama? Not so much we’d have to admit and even the addition of the communal angle doesn’t shake things up majorly with the makers opting to take a politically safe and sterile path.

It’s of course good to see a Bollywood movie attempting, however feebly, to fight propaganda about love jihad or the challenges faced by a certain community to rent accommodation in a locality dominated by another. But it’s all done in such a superficial manner it comes across as token messaging with an intention not to upset anyone that it loses steam.

A sports drama about a boy from the wrong tracks of life fighting his way out of the slums to make his mark as a national level boxer with a Hindu-Muslim love story (however, tepid) added for effect, sounds like a textbook recipe for an intense human drama. But the only thing you are likely to be impressed by here is Farhan’s ripped muscles, especially in the latter half of the movie.

Now we would have paid good money to watch a movie purely on his transformation from a light-hearted roadside tapori to a boxer with a killer instinct inside the ring. As it stands Toofaan proves to be a mere storm in a teacup. At 2 hours and 40 minutes, this is one bout that may test your endurance levels.

Toofaan is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Toofaan

Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur, Paresh Rawal, Mohan Agashe, Supriya Pathak

Rating: 3 out of 5

author

Ambica Sachin

Armed with a double masters in English Literature, Ambica Sachin embarked on a career that has seen her straddle teaching, assisting an award-winning author, and reviewing books and movies, before finding her forte in critical writing and interviewing celebrities. She is currently Editor, City Times, the lifestyle and entertainment portal of Khaleej Times.