At the trailer launch of the film Toofaan, producer and director of the film Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and the leading crew, including Ritesh Sidhwani and his producer-actor friend Farhan Akhtar reiterated multiple times with animated expressions that the film will bring about a 'Toofaan' - a metaphorical storm that is bound to take the cake as one of the best sports dramas in recent times. Well, it turns out that the film is indeed a Toofaan, but not the kind that will blow our mind; rather it is a storm we so want to shut and save ourselves from. Right through the first half of the film one cannot help feeling that the reel is simply raw footage publicly shared, prematurely.
Toofaan serves as the perfect example of a sloppy cinematic representation of a fantastic storyline; and that it comes from a super talented director who is known for his breakthrough films like Rang De Basanti, Mirzya and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, is saddening. As is well-known by now, the film revolves around a lower-middle-class goon-turned-boxer who hopes to make it big in boxing, despite the circumstances he finds himself in. But how exactly does the transition happen? What is the kind of emotional turmoil he goes through? How does he negotiate the big bad world of goon-ery to really be able to focus on making it big in the world of sport? These aspects are all handled in a rush, as if in single-frame scenes, thereby leaving a substantial chunk of the storyline bereft of emotions and drama. The dialogues are insipid and the acting even more so. Beyond a point, it is tough to put up with this 160-minute long flopshow.
Consider this: Here is a gangster from Dongri who's been happily flexing his muscles in his ‘Mumbai ka mohalla’ until he unintentionally stumbles upon boxing. In no time he gets so good at the sport, that he is crowned the champion of Maharashtra. Now, the problem is that his journey from a novice goonda to a chiselled boxer is fast and random, with a complete absence of rhythm, flow and a seamless connection. In the next few minutes, he is hailed as the unknown streetfighter rewriting history. This is like, the makers are testing the viewer's patience and intelligence.
In one of the recent interviews to THE WEEK, Akhtar had mentioned how he "really prepared for months on end to get into the skin of the character as a boxer," and to understand how the character evolves both physically, emotionally and mentally. Unfortunately, none of that comes across in the film. Eight years after his last film (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) in which he collaborated with Mehra to essay the role of the late athlete Milkha Singh, Akhtar fails to display passion and the intensity required to pull off the feel of the boxer on screen; he instead seems wearisome.
Paresh Rawal is a saving grace in the form of Akhtar's boxing coach, but he can hardly make up for a passionless script with bland dialogues. Mrunal has no "role" to play in this film. She only supplements the boxer as his lady love.
Vijay Raaz is exceptionally talented and very believable as the Gang Lord who adopts a foundling (Akhtar's character). Akhtar's past films have known to be memorable for their music, take for instance, Dil Chahta Hai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or even the pale Kartik Calling Kartik. But this one totally falls flat. The music, songs, lyrics are all misplaced and boring, except for the anthemic rap number ‘Todun Tak’ which accompanies the hero's rapid transformation from a strong and energetic street-brawler to a sound pugilist.
The film is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Paresh Rawal, Vijay Raaz