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Toofaan Movie Review: A Sports Film that Serves a Knock Out Punch to Ingrained Bigotry

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Toofaan Movie Review: A Sports Film that Serves a Knock Out Punch to Ingrained Bigotry

Vijayalakshmi Narayanan

Director : Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Genre : Drama

Our rating :

Off late, a trend has been observed with Hindi films releasing trailers that threaten to derail our viewing experiences since they mostly end up revealing the plots in their entirety. Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's 'Toofaan', starring Farhan Akhtar and Mrunal Thakur, too made us believe that this was yet another empowering sports film, waiting to be told. But, I've been caught off guard and much to my surprise, despite the film's predictability, I was left riveted.

Aziz Ali aka Ajju Bhai (Akhtar) works as the right-hand man for Dongri ganglord Jaffer Bhai (Vijay Raaz). He is content roughing up people for a living, alongwith his buddy Munna (Hussain Dalal). Of course, since he was an orphan himself, Ajju is also the good-hearted Samaritan who periodically looks after the kids at an orphanage. His well-meaning local gym instructor acquaints him to the art of boxing which helps him discover his forte. To hone his skills, he seeks training from revered coach Nana Prabhu (Paresh Rawal). Meanwhile, his chance encounter and eventual romance with Dr. Ananya (Mrunal Thakur) gives him a sense of purpose and he denounces his earlier life.

Written by Anjum Rajabali and Vijay Maurya, 'Toofaan' is a social commentary against the ingrained bias and hatred towards the minorities and the lesser-privileged, masquerading in the guise of a sports film. It questions our cancel culture and how we aren't even open to giving people a shot at redemption. And if we do, what make us entitled to be able to grant that opportunity? It emphasises upon the inner chaos raging within a person who pines for acceptance and inclusion. More importantly, the film truly asks us, are we free to live and love? But for many who are viewing the film as a sports flick, these intentions are lost in the largely crowded narrative. Clocking at 160 minutes, Meghna Manchanda Sen's editing lets a lot of scenes appear rushed and dusted with, even before you can process their tenacity. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's soundtrack elongates the runtime further. But Jay Oza's cinematography and Rajat Poddar's production design keeps us engaged with Ajju's universe.

It eventually boils down to the compelling performances of the cast which glosses over the film's several inconsistencies. For a sport that imbues machismo, Akhtar's silent rage makes the loudest impact. He essays it profoundly that strong men can be weak and they do cry. Mrunal's Ananya is a delicate balance between being idealistic and emphatic. She upends the manic pixie dream girl narrative, adding more purpose to the part of the leading lady in a sports film that is designed to centre around the man. But it's Rawal who lets his experience walk away with crowning glory. As the Islamophobic coach, the actor makes us understand how the seeds of hatred get planted into the minds of even the most seemingly educated and progressive people around us. Even though he makes you want to hate him, he convinces you why you must not cancel him out. Dr. Mohan Agashe as neighbour uncle Bala, Supriya Pathak Kapur as Mrs. D'Souza and Vijay Raaz as Jaffer Bhai don't hold larger purposes in the narrative, yet they delight you with their presence. Hussain Dalal too adds a refreshing layer to the role of a traditional best friend as Munna. Darshan Kumaar as rival state level boxer Dharmesh Patil makes for a menacing extended cameo.

Despite the worrying length and the scattered storytelling, 'Toofaan' is an engaging watch empowered by brilliant performances that hit you in the gut.

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Which 2022 release are you most excited for?
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