I already put up Part 1, plus reviews and stuff, you can check them out in the Thugs of Hindostan index here. This is not a super detailed scene by scene, but it is a little detailed, there was just more stuff I wanted to talk about than could be included in the SPOILER review.
I ended with Aamir agreeing to take the job of tracking down the Thugs and partnering up with his old friend, the Pandit Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub. And then we cut to seeing a ship with an evil British crew, we know they are evil because they drink wine and aren’t well-shaven. They send a small Indian ship’s boy down to the hold to get more wine. He dips into a big barrel, and a straw obviously sticks out of the barrel next door, unsurprisingly Aamir lifts the lid off to reveal he is inside breathing through the straw.
So, why? The idea of the straw is that you can hide under water and still breath. But sticking it enormously out of the lid isn’t exactly hiding, it’s gonna make people go “hey! Why is there a straw sticking out of that barrel?” Also, if Aamir can just lift off the top, why does he even need the straw? Also, aren’t they going to be noticed eventually when they open the wine barrel for more wine? They whole thing is just DUMB and not well thought out and I am embarrassed for the director. Oh, and then Aamir gets out of the barrel and goes to get Mohammed who is hiding in another barrel and has drunken all the wine. Ha-ha, drunk people are funny.
(This is so much better, drunk people aren’t funny, they are heartbreaking)
They are planning their next move when they hear a sound and look behind a curtain to find a bunch of pitiful people and a sick boy asking for water. Why? Doesn’t matter, we never find out. Are they slaves, are they steerage passengers, were they kidnapped or left voluntarily? Who cares, they are there to show Aamir have a moment of pity (he gives his water to the little boy) and then the move just blows past them and it never comes up again. Even when the boat is sunk, I guess the sick boy and all the others slowly sank, struggled to swim, were drawn in by the force of the boat going down, grabbed each other for one last moment of human connection as they felt the weight of the water pushing down on their chests and finally died, in fear and pain. But don’t think about that, Aamir has jokes to tell instead. Ha-ha, such funny jokes.
And then Fatima and Amitabh attack! Fight fight fight! Aamir and Mohammed hide (under a British East India flag, ooo subtle symbolism), and then Aamir decides this is his chance to be smart and join in the battle and make friends with Amitabh. So he leaps in, fight fight fight, and then Fatima comes swooping in and shoots arrows and runs and stuff and Aamir reacts to her….somehow. It’s really not clear. He is impressed, but is he surprised? In love? Respectful? No idea! I think the film doesn’t really know what to do with them together, the simple thing would be to make it a love triangle between Aamir and Katrina and Fatima. But then we would have the ickiness of Aamir and Fatima being a love story, and we would have to give up too much screentime of Aamir in order to build up Fatima’s side of things. Can we take a moment here for the ridiculousness of Aamir casting an actress 30 years younger than him, who last played his daughter, as his love interest? UGH!
Right, fight fight fight, at the end of which Aamir is hit by something, stumbles, and accidentally ends up blocking a bullet meant for Fatima. He faints and wakes up back in the bandit hide out being treated by Ila Arun. Ila Arun is a famous folk singer by the way, sang “Choli Ke Peeche”. And she acts too, for instance playing Hrithik’s adviser/foster mother in Jodha-Akbar. In this movie, she plays a horny witch woman whose backstory is never explained or motivation, she is just there to look strange and be funny. Ha-ha, she flirts with Aamir.
(See? She is the awesome intelligent scary antagonist here)
Aamir goes out to the big open area where Amitabh is sitting on his strange thrown made of sticks and red thread. So many sticks in this bandit hide out! The set designs really lost their minds. Anyway, Amitabh punishes a spy by killing him, Aamir and Mohammed are obviously terrified, and then Aamir takes a leap and grabs a sword and begs Amitabh to let him join in their band. Amitabh agrees, I guess because he is an idiot. Or maybe because he so loves Fatima that anyone who saves her life gains his trust, but the second option isn’t really clearly shown.
Aamir goes to explore and runs across a rope track set up by Fatima. He tries to ingratiate himself with her by implying that he can help her in a power struggle against Amitabh and she is insulted and uninterested since he clearly doesn’t understand their relationship. I wish she had just killed him right there.
And then Fatima is sleeping and dreams of the deaths of her family. She wakes, and Amitabh who is hovering outside comes in and holds her and sings to her. And tells her that he is wearing the bracelet still that her father put on his wrist to remind him to always care for her, and so he will never sleep, but always be there for her. She asks if he will sleep once it is taken off, and he says yes, but if she cries out, he would return from the gates of hell. It’s so beautiful, because he is saying that his duty keeps him watching over her, but beyond the duty, even if that is gone, he still loves her enough just on his own to return from the gates of hell. Their relationship is duty and love all wrapped together. Lovely and unique. So, of course, this is the only scene they have together.
And then we go back to boring old Aamir and Amitabh!!! Amitabh is plowing a field in some way that makes no sense to me. He’s just dragging a log around? There’s no actual blade to plow up soil? So strange! Makes me think this movie was made for people who have never plowed earth. Oh, and Amitabh gives Aamir a big lecture about hope for the future and faith and how if he can save one man (Aamir) from doubts, he can save the whole world. Yeah, sure, it’s all about Aamir. And it ends with Aamir embracing Amitabh and joining him to pull together in their ridiculous ineffective plowing.
And then, “Vashmalle”. Did no one stop and think for a moment about the inappropriateness of the freedom fighters dancing in their hideout and feeling up random sex slaves? They certainly aren’t dressed or acting like respectable wives of the fighters. And they aren’t dressed or acting like fellow fighters. And this is a remote hide out far from any village. So they only reason these women would be here is if they are kept by the rebels to serve them sexually. Which is what they do in this song. And Aamir, our “hero” feels them up wildly, enjoying molesting them. Or not, I guess, if we accept the premise that all women secretly want sex and so you can ignore all the logical reasons that tell you they aren’t interested.
(Check out 30 seconds in. How is this okay? They aren’t village girls there for a good time, they aren’t wives and daughters, they are sex people who are apparently kept for drunken parties at the rebel hide out)
But it’s the item songs we need to be wary of! Oh the evil of the item songs! You know, the ones where the woman has all the power and is taking money from the men for her job, where the hero is usually uninterested in her (thus showing his heroism) and the villain is (thus showing his villianousness), where the woman actually gets to sing the song and be the center of things instead of just a body for the hero to grope and lean on. Yes yes, songs like “Vashmalle” are perfectly fine, they are just good time “party songs”, nothing to see here. UGH!
Oh, also, Amitabh really can’t dance. Which is fine, the man is pushing 80 and has all kinds of medical conditions. But it’s just painful to watch the way they are forcing him into this just to give us the selling point of Aamir and Amitabh dancing together. Which isn’t the selling point I want anyway! Let me see Fatima and Amitabh dancing together. Forget Aamir!
Anyway, song over, Amitabh explains to Aamir (who I guess is now his best friend just because he is the hero?) that they are going in to Sharat Saxena’s kingdom to secretly get arms. The group strides in to the marketplace, looking very obvious, and then breaks off and Aamir bumps in to Gavin Marshall. It is a coincidence, he didn’t see him out. And at first it looks like he really has been converted to a rebel because he avoids telling Gavin where Amitabh is. And then he turns back and does tell him. So I guess we are supposed to go “oh wow, an amoral hero! So fascinating and fun to watch!” Versus my reaction, which was “oh wow, an amoral hero! I hate him and want to watch someone else.”
Aamir rushes into the armory to warn the British are coming, Sharat Saxena leaves to hold off the British and locks Amitabh and Aamir inside, Amitabh reveals he knows of Aamir’s treachery. Which I guess would be affecting and emotional if I felt any kind of real bond between these characters, but I don’t.
(also, only scene between Aamir and Sharat Saxena, so not much of a Ghulam reunion. Also, Ghulam! There was a conflicted hero you could CARE about!)
And, fight fight fight fight fight. Which just makes me miss Errol Flynn. There was a real #MeToo monster, but my goodness could he do a sword fight! It was like watching ballet. This is like watching 3 year olds try to stumble through their recital performance, except less cute. And I know Amitabh has a million injuries, but they should have just hired a stand in and let us see a real sword fight, instead of forcing the old man to stumble through it. And then right at the end, he slips and falls from a platform, Aamir leaps around and saves him, and somehow that makes Amitabh decide to trust him again. He gives him the bracelet of protection for Fatima, then jumps on the little boat full of gunpowder and rides it out of the room and into the nearby ship, exploding it. Meanwhile, Aamir gets a horse and a cart that is on fire from somewhere, uses it to ride to Fatima’s rescue and pulls her up behind him. Why is the cart on fire? No idea! The fire is never actually used offensively in the scene. Just one of the many moments no one thought through. INTERVAL
We come back to see Fatima and the rest of the rebels mourning. An actually emotionally effective scene, she remembers Amitabh and him playing with her and teaching her as a child and it’s super touching. But we can’t have that! This isn’t the “emotionally resonant and interesting” movie this is the “Aamir wanted to wear a funny hat” movie. So we cut straight back to the British and Aamir.
Lloyd Owen is throwing a party, including lots of white ladies. Where did they come from? Why? There were loads of soldiers in India by then, but not so many white ladies and fancy parties. Oh well, I guess all those young men who got their motors running watching Aamir molest people in “Vashmalle” needed to see a white lady.
Aamir arrives on his donkey and insists on seeing Lloyd Owen and Gavin Marshall. And insists on them feeding him before he will talk. Why must we suffer through this? Just to see the really cool set design them came up with for the dining room table? Anyway, Aamir eats, and then declares that although Amitabh is dead, he lives on in the hearts of his followers and Aamir can deliver them to Lloyd Owen and Gavin Marshall. Now, much later in the film we will learn that Amitabh literally lives on and Lloyd Owen has him secreted away somewhere. But there is nothing in the actor’s reactions here that I could see which indicated that. Did the director forget to tell them?
Oh, and then a bunch of ships sail into the hidden cove, while Aamir plays the flute to lead them in. Only to reveal it was actually a double ambush, the rebels are waiting and quickly destroy or capture all the ships, sending Gavin Marshall off to report back to Lloyd Owen. Post battle, Mohammed gives Aamir allllllll the credit for making him now a “man” by leading him to a just cause. Because let us remember it is not about Fatima and her mission, it’s all about Aamir.
(Mohammed is a really good actor by the way, I wish he had more to do in this particular film)
Fatima then asks to talk to Aamir. She is by the sea building a sandcastle of the fort just like in the opening scene, with Amitabh’s sword next to her. And she gives a really weird speech that basically boils down to “now you have made me soft and womanly so I am going to give you all my power and revert to my natural nature, tee-hee.” Which is just SO ODD!!!! Because nothing in the rest of the film gives this message. Even as a little girl she was already dreaming of protecting her fort, not marrying a nice man and settling down. What is this “I killed all the softness in me” nonsense? Plus, really, Aamir? What does she see in him? The man is purposefully grotesque in this role, unshaven with weird clothes and burps and drunk and blech. That’s the idea, that he is an anti-hero. And yet Fatima still falls in love with him. Because women are always there for the taking I guess, even if you are a disgusting human being.
Fatima follows up this “tee-hee, I’m a girl!” scene with a big dramatic speech about destroying Clive, while Aamir watches and looks nervous. Why in the world would these two scenes go together? Maybe there was more connective tissue at some point, but they cut it once someone said “ew, this is gross, Fatima and Aamir just played father and daughter”.
Oh, and then one of my favorite scenes, Lloyd Owen and Gavin Marshall hanging out talking Hindi to each other as they work out their plans. The scene itself is kind of dull, but the visual of these two guys in British uniforms with British accents speaking Hindi for no logical reason while alone together just inspires me in the pure chutzpah of it, thinking that the audience will be able to suspend its disbelief to that degree.
And then Clive goes to the prison and calls out…..someone. I honestly have no idea who this character is supposed to be. One of the Thugs Aamir betrayed? But then, how would he know where Fatima’s hide out is? Or is it one of the rebels? But then, why would be betray Fatima. I got nothing and it is never fully explained so I will just have to live with the mystery.
(Remember when Aamir was in a historical film with an informer that had a clear motivation and backstory? Wasn’t that nice?)
Meanwhile, Aamir is trying to sneak away. Leaves the sword with Fatima, and then sneaks off followed by Amitabh’s pet bird. He tries to explain to the bird that he did his best but he can’t go against his basic nature. I guess it is supposed to be riveting, watching him fight between his higher instincts and lower nature, but it’s mostly just Aamir talking to a CGI bird in a funny accent. And then he gets to the sea and sees boats arriving for a secret ambush and rushes back to raise the alarm. Children appear who we have never seen before, just long enough for Fatima to order “save the children” (she’s a girl you know). And then somehow this large group of rebels transforms down into a little bitty group on little bitty boats. And then an even smaller group as they arrive at Katrina’s.
Yaaaay Katrina! She is so interesting. She arrives in a fancy doli thing wearing cool miss-matched clothes. Immediately interesting, wealthy enough to have a doli, private enough to keep the curtains closed, but confident enough to wear a miss-matched outfit. And so her reaction when she sees the group in the living room of wry amusement seems right. Aamir tries to talk her into helping them with fast-talk, but what really does the trick is when Fatima goes to her and puts it to her straight, that they need help. Katrina smiles and says she will help, because she loves madmen. And (if I am remembering correctly) she’s even the one who comes up with the plan, putting the attack within the Dussehra performance.