Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Writers: Anjum Rajabali, Vijay Maurya
Cinematography: Jay Oza
Edited by: Meghna Manchanda Sen
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur, Paresh Rawal, Darshan Kumaar and Supriya Pathak
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

In Anurag Kashyap’s 2017 boxing drama Mukkabaaz, a coach tells his protégé – ab tumko tay karna hai ki tumko mukkabaaz banna hai ki mukkebaaz. In different phrases, do you wish to be a boxer or a brawler? In Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Toofaan, Aziz, a road fighter from Dongri, is confronted with the identical alternative – boxing or bhaigiri. Aziz chooses a lifetime of ‘izzat’. The catalyst in his life is a health care provider on the native hospital. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s nice line in As Good as it Gets, Ananya makes Aziz wish to be a greater man.

The thought for Toofaan got here from Farhan Akhtar. The story and screenplay have been written by Anjum Rajabali, who has earlier written movies like Ghulam and co-written movies like Raajneeti. Vijay Maurya is credited with extra screenplay and dialogue. Despite the enter of so many stellar abilities, the writing doesn’t deviate a lot from the usual tropes of the boxing film. As we’ve seen in a number of movies earlier than – from Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, which, 41 years later, continues to be the holy grail of boxing films, to the Rocky and Creed franchise – right here too, boxing isn’t merely a sport. It’s a shot at honour, redemption, glory, a greater life. The ring is a battlefield during which the fighter suffers hellish punishment, however he proves greater than his ache.

But earlier than this, the fighter should be mentored by a formidable coach, who teaches him not simply the game however a lifestyle – right here the position is performed by Paresh Rawal, who’s strong. And there should be a coaching montage, which establishes the bodily rigour that the position requires. At the tip, the underdog overcomes insurmountable odds. Here Aziz goes up towards an opponent whose monitor file boasts of 40 bouts and 40 knockouts. In case we nonetheless don’t get how powerful the battle is, the commentator says – sirf boxer hello nahi, punching bag bhi usse ghabrate hain. No prizes for guessing who wins.

Toofaan works finest when it innovates inside this method – like its depiction of the connection between a middle-class Hindu woman and a Muslim orphan who has been picked up from a gutter and raised by the native Dongri don. You need to droop disbelief to consider that this romance may really occur. It doesn’t assist that Ananya is written as insistently chirpy and upright, and that Mrunal Thakur’s efficiency doesn’t add any nuance. But their love story, the bigotry they face, the thorny responses from household and neighbours, their hardscrabble circumstances and Aziz’s eventual compromise are constructed with conviction and authenticity. It is the beating coronary heart of the movie.

As is Farhan. Like he did in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, additionally in partnership with Rakeysh, Farhan locates the essence of a sportsman. He can’t match the brilliance or the searing fury of Vineet Kumar Singh in Mukkabaaz. But Farhan performs Aziz with attraction and vulnerability, which contrasts properly along with his skill to inflict severe hurt. The bodily transformation – from chiselled muscle tissues to middle-aged dad-bod – can also be spectacular. In a key scene, Aziz steps out of the lavatory in a towel so there isn’t any doubt in our heads that the protruding stomach is actual. Which took me again to the beautiful scene in Sultan during which Salman Khan, enjoying the ageing wrestler, appears in despair at himself within the mirror. Aziz getting again into form can also be a factor of magnificence – like Rocky working up the steps, Aziz runs up the steps of a half-constructed constructing, towards the rousing title quantity by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. I don’t know a lot about boxing however at no level does Farhan come off like an newbie. His physique language within the ring is persuasive. The actor, who’s a co-producer on the movie, additionally helps to carry collectively the jostling tonalities in Toofaan.

Toofaan has been shot by Jay Oza, who additionally shot Gully Boy. Large chunks are set within the slim lanes of Dongri and Nagpada. The visible grammar is aiming for gritty naturalism however an excessive amount of of the storytelling is plotted like old-school Bollywood – early within the movie, we see Aziz shopping for presents for orphan boys, which is tacked on solely to ascertain that he is perhaps a goon however he’s a good-hearted one; the Hindu-Muslim divide is partially mended by a blatantly manipulative scene set in a temple; Darshan Kumaar reveals up as a unhealthy man – this monitor is wholly redundant and it made me surprise why filmmakers can’t give this proficient actor extra to do than glare icily. There’s additionally Supriya Pathak enjoying a kindly Catholic nurse who helps the younger couple – her presence permits for a Christmas celebration during which the digital camera lingers on an ornamental star so the plea for non secular tolerance and secularism is full.

This isn’t a movie that desires us to assume an excessive amount of – the dialogue spells all the things out. We have strains like – tumhara dard, tumhara gussa ek din tumhara sapna pura karega or Jeet-ta woh hai jo aakhir tak khada rehta hai. Aziz will get hooked to boxing after watching a video of Muhammad Ali in a hoop. At varied instances within the movie, he’s in comparison with the legend, which is a little bit of a stretch. The movie’s size can also be a hurdle. Toofaan runs for 2 hours and forty-three minutes. You need to get previous the tasteless first act to get to the meat within the story. This might need labored higher in a theatre however is tougher to drag off on a streaming platform, the place a whole bunch of choices are solely a click on away.

Despite the convoluted screenplay, which included flashbacks inside flashbacks, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was in a position to summon the demons and the formidable spirit that drove an athlete to greatness. That movie additionally benefited from the load of being impressed by a real-life character. Toofaan can’t match the emotional punch of that. But Farhan’s tenacity and sincerity shine by even within the boring patches.

You can see Toofaan on Amazon Prime Video.

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