Toofan Movie Review: Farhan, Mrunal starrer interlaces love and sport while throwing a flurry of punches on bigotry
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Produced By: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Bollywood Bubble Rating:
Toofan, literal meaning ‘storm’ lives up to its name in all honestly. Toofan is a story of an underdog, an ‘extortionist’ from Dongri to becoming the unstoppable boxing champion of India. Through phases in his life and journey, Aziz Ali (Farhan Akhtar) not just inspires but also reminds us why a Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Farhan Akhtar collaboration can never go wrong. Toofan reeks of intelligent writing, something we haven’t seen in a long time. With Farhan, Paresh Rawal and Mrunal Thakur at the helm of it, there are many reasons to celebrate Toofan, the biggest being it throwing a flurry of punches on bigotry.
Like many other stories, Ananya (a doctor practicing at a charity hospital played by Mrunal Thakur) rips Aziz off his ‘gunda’ pride which makes him want to be a better person. In a classic Bollywood style, she motivates him to take up boxing and use his strength to become something he can be proud of. No prize for guessing, Aziz does exactly that, kyunki ‘O Ananya, he was totally swept off his feet’. Here’s when Nana Prabhu (Paresh Rawal) enters, the boxing coach and also Ananya’s father, who has a deep seethed anger against Muslims (or as called in the movie ‘Landya’ (another Mumbai slang)). This bigotry forms major part of the conflict throughout the movie.
A celebrated boxing coach, he is an average man who feels the world is threatened by ‘a few awakened Hindus’. A Hindu who drinks but refuses to order from a restaurant owned by Muslim, that is who Nana is and his hatred for the community is made apparent from the first scene itself. However, Aziz’s talent forces Nana to look beyond his bigotry lense and train him, as long as boxing continues to be their common religion. Well, fate had other plans.
A few scenes in, Nana is seen hurling abuses and making references to how this was expected out of Aziz because he is a ‘Muslim’. However, Rakesh Omprakash makes sure to call out his bigotry at every given point. That is where the writing needs to be applauded. There are scene where Nana’s friend and neighbours rightly calls him out on being a bigot. There are scenes involving them fighting bigotry on both sides and that is what leaves you with hope. Toofan doesn’t make a direct political statement on bigotry, no, but it engages and highlights elements of it through a healthy discourse.
Toofan also interlaces love and relationship arch beautifully while leaving you with the hope that one will always have a choice. Be the change you want or live with the regret of not even trying. We see Aziz being at the middle of making many such decisions throughout, be it as simple as being a boxer or marrying the girl he loved. In all of this, Ananya is the blinding lights for Aziz.
The cinematography of the film speaks as well. There are scenes where find a bird eye view of Dongri and see the entire street quite as Aziz practices in isolation for the championship. There are scenes where it is just Ananya and Aziz speaking about taking over the entire country with their love and sports. The DoP needs a special mention for making sure to portray the emotions through his lens. For someone who is accustomed to the Mumbai-ya slangs, the efforts made to keep the tonality and dialect of the characters uniform throughout the movie doesn’t go unnoticed.
Mrunal Thakur is effortless as Ananya. She is a natural and her chemistry with both Paresh Rawal and Farhan Akhtar is palpable. Paresh Rawal as Nana is impeccable. He brings in nuances and is authentic to his approach of playing a father and a coach, sometimes with no distinction between the two. Farhan Akhtar’s hard work to be Aziz cannot be unnoticed. Not just emotionally, the actor has physically seen a transformation as well. From having a belly pouch to explain a leap in the movie to working those abs out, he is flawless.
While I absolutely loved the movie, I wish it was scissored a bit. The length exhausted me by the end of it, and I felt the climax was slightly underwhelming for a movie which started off with such intensity from the beginning.
Toofan is not a sports film, it is a film about life and choices. It definitely deserves all the watch! Toofan is premiering on Amazon Prime Video.