If you think ‘Toofaan‘ is going to be anything like ‘Saala Khadoos‘ or ‘Mary Kom‘, quash those expectations right away. Yes, ‘Toofaan’ does tell the fictional story of a boxer who hails from a less-than-humble background and makes it to the national championship but the film is more than just a sports drama. It gives us a glimpse into the life of Aziz Ali (Farhan Akhtar) from Dongri, who uses his brute strength to rough up people for his boss Jaffar Bhai (Vijay Raaz). But when his attention turns to boxing, he decides to clean up his act and become the next Muhammad Ali. He is trained by coach Nana Prabhu (Paresh Rawal) who puts his religious bigotry aside to give Aziz a chance. But at the same time, Aziz has unknowingly struck up a relationship with his daughter Ananya Prabhu (Mrunal Thakur). The story then focusses on their love story, how they make it despite all odds, and his eventual ban and comeback into the world of boxing.
The film takes religious bigotry by the horns
These are not easy times to make a film that tackles religious bigotry. Amazon itself has come under the radar of dogmatists around the country before. But Farhan Akhtar sticks to his guns and portrays a story without much melodrama. Sure, Aziz and Ananya face a lot of flack from both their communities but the struggles they face are fairly realistic. In fact, the Bollywood clichés in this film are limited to the boxing side of the story. There’s a steady rise in his career, followed by an abrupt fall, and a swift comeback. The training montages are far too many but add some pace to this otherwise long film.
Farhan Akhtar makes a sincere effort
We are used to seeing Bollywood actors from upper class backgrounds attempt ‘common people’ roles, and fail miserably at them. Farhan Akhtar gives a sincere performance but he does not imbibe the ‘tapori’ accent completely, slipping frequently into his posh accent. While his Aziz is charming, we would have loved to see another actor who is more comfortable with a vernacular accent. Hussain Dalal makes a good buddy for him, standing out only as much as a sidekick must. Mrunal Thakur’s role is limited to the love interest but she makes her presence felt. Her Ananya is a bold woman with a strong voice. Paresh Rawal is a natural at what he does. Two other supporting characters who get your attention are Supriya Pathak and Mohan Agashe. They are the heart of this film despite limited screen time. Vijay Raaz is wasted in a role that’s too sketchy for an actor of his calibre.
The film could have been shorter
At two hours and forty minutes, ‘Toofan’ is a long film. It holds your attention for the most part but the last part of the story seems like a drag. We couldn’t help but wonder if the story could have ended with its happily-ever-after romantic story without Aziz’s. Sure, it wouldn’t be a typical Bollywood movie then but not every story needs its filmy ending.
WATCH OR NOT
Despite its length, ‘Toofaan’ packs a punch. You get romance, action, and a beautiful story about perseverance.
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur, Paresh Rawal, Hussain Dalal, Supriya Pathak, Mohan Agashe, Vijay Raaz
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video