Toofaan, the new sports drama starring Farhan Akhtar as the central character, is a movie that relies heavily on the efforts of the actors to make the journey believable rather than the script to create something refreshing. Thus this movie feels like a constant fight between writers and performers. The underdog sports drama always had the same template, but the way it makes us root for the underdog was what made all the successful movies in the genre great ones, and in that sense, Toofaan is on the average side.
As you may have guessed from the trailer, the movie is about Aziz Ali, a Mumbai goon who decides to learn boxing as he realized that this sporting event could earn him respect. The doctor who planted the seed of this idea became the love of his life. The entry of Ali into the ring was grand, but certain misjudgments ruined his career resulting in a 5-year ban by the boxing federation. The soul of Toofaan is Ali’s efforts to make a comeback to the ring after five years and how he does that.
Some may be wondering that I have ruined the movie for you by telling the whole story. First of all, this was all shown in the trailer, and secondly, this is perhaps the structure of every other sports drama. Most of the sports dramas that have made an impact worked largely due to the way they dived deep into the emotion of the sport. We all knew India would lift the world cup the moment we started watching Chak De India. But what made theaters literally feel like a stadium was the way they approached the sport. Here, in the initial bits, one can sense that. Paresh Rawal’s coach character tells Aziz how he should consider the boxing ring as his home. But Toofaan wants to cover a lengthy journey, and hence it relies on montage songs and stuff to skip through a lot of areas. And somewhere in the middle, it becomes a love story rather than a sports drama. And you have a dance number happening in the middle. There is a grandfather granddaughter sentiment happening in the second half of the movie, which I thought was way too cheesy for the mood of this movie.
Prakash Jha’s frequent collaborator Anjum Rajabali has written the screenplay of this movie, and we get to see the story idea credit given to Farhan Akhtar. Perhaps Farhan’s idea was to present a desi version of Rocky with personal conflicts and redemption as the theme. But somewhere, I felt the drama of the movie was craving for masala. As they were opting for an OTT release, they could have easily removed the choreographed dance number in the streets of Mumbai. But Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra decided to keep it, and somewhere it became the first warning that a major part of this movie is going to feel formulaic. And it followed the usual stuff like training montages, desperate situations, a reason to fight (which kind of gets revealed in the very first shot of the movie itself), and of course, the eventual victory. The lighting pattern adds a sense of drama to the visuals. From static frames to handheld shots, Jay Oza has done a good job of maintaining the mood of the movie. Unlike any other sports drama, one could feel the presence of too many songs in this movie, and luckily they all fitted into the movie except that dance number I mentioned earlier.
What makes Toofaan definitely watchable and, to an extent, engaging is the performance of Farhan Akhtar. The man is practically there in almost every sequence in the movie. And the makers have not compromised on the authentic feel of the movie. Farhan goes through a major physical transformation for the movie, from his ripped body to his fat tummy. But it’s not just the body. The body language in fights and the grit you see in Ali’s eyes etc., are so convincing that somewhere you would feel for that character. Another great performance is from Paresh Rawal, who delivers a very controlled portrayal. The usual loudness one gets to witness in his performances was not here, making the coach slightly more unique. Mrunal Thakur has an endearing screen presence, and it is not your usual bubbly heroine character. She balances both aspects of that character neatly.
Toofaan is about fighting, and as I mentioned already, you can sense a fight happening on the creative level between performances and writing. And performances are the clear winner here. Toofaan is a Farhan Akhtar show, and sadly it can’t go beyond its template structure to achieve a space in your heart. Simply put, this boxing drama lacks punch.
Toofaan is a Farhan Akhtar show, and sadly it can't go beyond its template structure to achieve a space in your heart. Simply put, this boxing drama lacks punch.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended