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Thugs of Hindostan is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language action-adventure film, written and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, and produced by Aditya Chopra under his banner Yash Raj Films. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Katrina Kaif, and Lloyd Owen. Set in 1795, the film follows a band of Thugs led by Khudabaksh Azaad, who aspires to free Hindostan (the Indian subcontinent) from the rule of the expanding British East India Company. Alarmed, British commander John Clive sends a small-time Thug from Awadh, Firangi Mallah, to infiltrate and counter the threat.[5]

Thugs of Hindostan
The image features the film's cast and credits.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVijay Krishna Acharya
Produced byAditya Chopra
Screenplay byVijay Krishna Acharya
StarringAmitabh Bachchan
Aamir Khan
Fatima Sana Shaikh
Katrina Kaif
Lloyd Owen[1]
Music bySongs:
Ajay-Atul
Score:
John Stewart Eduri
CinematographyManush Nandan
Edited byRitesh Soni[1]
Production
company
Distributed byYash Raj Films
Release date
  • 8 November 2018 (2018-11-08)
Running time
164 minutes[2]
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget335 crore[3]
Box officeest. ₹262.80 crore[4]

Produced on an estimated budget of 335 crore (US$47 million), Thugs of Hindostan is the most expensive Bollywood film.[6] Initially titled Thug, the film marked the first time Khan and Bachchan featured together as leads, and was the second collaboration between Khan, Acharya and Kaif, after Dhoom 3 (2013). Principal photography commenced on 5 June 2017 in Malta; the film was also shot in Thailand and Mehrangarh. It was put on a short hiatus after Bachchan was injured on set. Filming concluded in March 2018, the final schedule being completed in Rajasthan. The soundtrack was composed by Ajay-Atul, with lyrics written by Amitabh Bhattacharya.

Thugs of Hindostan was released during the week of the Diwali festival, on 8 November 2018. It received generally negative reviews; while critics praised the performances of Bachchan and Khan, Acharya's direction and screenplay were criticised. The film recorded the highest first-day collection and highest two-day collection for any Hindi film in India, and the fourth biggest opening weekend in India but later experienced a massive drop in the second weekend.[7] Thugs of Hindostan grossed ₹262.80 crore ($40.22 million) at the worldwide box office.[4]

Contents

Plot

In 1795, when the Indian subcontinent was known as Hindustan or Hindostan, king Mirza Sikander Baig was killed by John Clive. The residents of his kingdom are massacred, and the land is annexed by the British. The only survivors are his daughter, Zafira Baig, and general, Khudabaksh. Khudabaksh defeats the retreating enemy soldiers, and raises Zafira as his daughter, training her in the arts of warfare.

Years later, Khudabaksh, now known as Jahaazi, leads a band of Indian bandits known as Thugs, who specialise in sea-based warfare and expose a serious challenge to the expanding British East India Company which had, by then, seized control of large parts of India. John Clive is alarmed, and assigns his right-hand to counter the rising threat posed by the Thugs.

Firangi Mallah, a good-for-nothing, small-time Thug who makes his living by stealing necessary accessories, is recruited by the British to meet this challenge. He appears before Jahaazi and asks him for his refuge. Jahaazi accepts, and Firangi turns into a routine informer for the Company. He finds solace with a dancer named Suraiyya. Firangi aims to be an English-man himself, and hence dresses up as one in many circumstances.

Firangi betrays the Thugs on many occasions. Jahaazi, who wishes to straighten the wayward Firangi and bring him into the Thug life, gets suspicious and realises the truth. He confronts Firangi and they have a duel. Jahaazi loses, and concedes defeat to Firangi, while expressing hope that he will change his ways.

At the final encounter with the British at an abandoned fort, Jahaazi and Zafira fight the British and find themselves outnumbered and their ranks falling. Firangi and his cronies suddenly appear and turn the tide of the battle. Zafira defeats Clive, and justice is served. Jahaazi looks to the sky and realises the infertile land has now borne fruit, suggesting that Firangi has now become an empathetic human capable of greatness.

Cast

Production

Development

In September 2016, Yash Raj Films' next project titled Thugs of Hindostan was announced, and would feature Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. The lead actress was not yet finalised at the time.[11] The film was initially titled only Thug; it was set for a release on Diwali in 2018.[12] Hrithik Roshan, who was initially approached with the film's leading role, suggested some changes to the script. The film producer Aditya Chopra agreed; meanwhile, Acharya approached Khan with the script, who agreed to do the film with no changes to the storyline.[13] Later, in November 2016, Khan also requested that the script be reworked, particularly the character of the leading actress, and put the project on hold.[14] Meanwhile, he grew his hair and beard for his look in the film.[15]

By February 2017, Khan had prepared his look for the film.[16] In the same month, Shraddha Kapoor gave a costume look test and audition for the film.[17] In March 2017, it was reported that Khan suggested Fatima Sana Shaikh's name for a role in the film; while denying rumours of casting, Sheikh expressed her eagerness to work in the project.[18] In May 2017, Shaikh was confirmed to play a role in the film, with her audition look being revealed.[19] She replaced Kapoor.[20] Kaif was confirmed to star in the film on Yash Raj Films' official website.[20] Khan, Bachchan and Acharya met during the month of May to discuss script changes.[21] Contrary to initial reports, the film is not based on Philip Meadows Taylor's 1839 novel Confessions of a Thug (which was about Indian thugs); the film tells a fictional story based on historical events. Acharya links the misunderstanding to the word thug appearing in both works.[22] Khan also denied rumours of Thugs of Hindostan being inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, stating in May 2017 that they are both simply action-adventure productions, among many others in the action-adventure film genre, such as the Indiana Jones series.[23]

Thugs of Hindostan is Khan's second time collaborating with Vijay Krishna Acharya and Katrina Kaif, after Dhoom 3 (2013).[24] It also marked the first collaboration between Khan and Bachchan.[25] Bachchan and Khan were supposed to star together in the Indra Kumar-directorial Rishta, planned during the late 1990s, but the project was shelved.[22] Besides Roshan, Jackie Shroff, Alia Bhatt, and Deepika Padukone were to be a part of the film, but turned down the role.[26][9] For his look, Khan also underwent permanent ear and nose piercing.[27]

In making Thugs of Hindostan, Acharya wanted to give a twist to period drama films and thus made what he considered "an irreverent film which has a chapter that is not very noble".[22] He made the film a visual "spectacle", considering the difficulty in bringing audiences to theatres.[22] Khan said his character was someone "who cannot be trusted at all – [so it's the] very opposite of Dangal … He's a very slippery character. He has no scruples at all – for money he can sell his mother out. He's like that."[28] Kaif said that she does not have much action to do in the film, compared to her previous action roles, in particular Tiger Zinda Hai (2017).[29] Bachchan wore iron armour for playing his character, the second time he did so after his 1988 film Shahenshah.[30] In addition, he also wore a pagri, grew long hair and learned sword-fighting.[22] Most of Bachchan's action sequences were situated in rainy settings.[22]

Principal photography

 
Mehrangarh Fort, situated in Rajasthan, where a large portion of sequences were filmed.

Thugs of Hindostan's estimated production budget is 3 billion (US$42 million), making it the most expensive Bollywood film.[31] It was initially planned to be produced on a budget of ₹900 million, but the budget was overrun while filming.[32] Filming commenced on 5 June 2017 in Malta.[25] Two ships were constructed in Malta for the purpose of filming; shooting was heavily guarded to prevent leaks from sets.[33] The ships were built by over 1000 people working together and weighed 200,000 kg each.[34] By 28 June 2017, Bachchan finished filming his first schedule in Malta.[35] In middle July, Khan took a break from filming and went on a vacation to Italy.[36]

Chopra, who was not impressed with the film's action sequences filmed in Malta, had them filmed again in Yash Raj Films' studio.[37] It was reported that busy with filming for Thugs of Hindostan, Khan would be unable to promote his film Secret Superstar (2017) properly.[38] However, in October 2017, Khan took a break from filming to promote his film.[39] In August 2017, Bachchan fractured his rib cage while shooting, but had to continue filming since the schedule was tight.[39] The film's dance sequence, which featured Bachchan, among others, and choreographed by Prabhu Deva was filmed in October 2017.[40] When filming was not taking place, the cast, along with the crew, wore face masks to avoid contracting common cold.[41] In September 2017, photographers of the Filmfare magazine captured Khan while filming, and leaked his look.[42] An upset Khan increased security surveillance on film sets.[43] The same month, Bachchan's look was also leaked online.[44] Khan stated that "this shouldn't have happened" and it foiled plans for later look releases.[45]

Filming also took place in Thailand, from 6 December 2017.[46] The schedule was wrapped up on 26 December 2017.[47] Some sequences were also shot in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur.[48] After Bachchan experienced discomfort on set, a team of doctors visited him in Jodhpur. His wife, Jaya Bachchan stated that his heavy costumes hurt his back and neck.[49] The stunts aggravated his pre-existing neck and shoulder pain, which was a result of past injuries from stunts he did for filming in the 1970-80s.[50] Bachchan stated that he was back to normal.[51] The film's shooting was put on a short hiatus as a result of his injury.[52] He resumed filming on 13 March 2018.[53][54] The film's climax sequence was filmed in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in late March 2018.[55][56]

Music

Thugs of Hindostan
Soundtrack album by
Released31 October 2018[57]
Recorded2017-2018
GenreFeature film soundtrack
Length15:36
LanguageHindi
LabelYRF Music
ProducerAjay−Atul
Ajay−Atul chronology
Dhadak
(2018)
Thugs of Hindostan
(2018)
Zero
(2018)
External audio
  Audio Jukebox on YouTube

The film score was composed by John Stewart Eduri, while the original songs featured in the film were composed by Ajay−Atul, with lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya.[1] Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy were originally supposed to compose the soundtrack, but were unable to complete their work before the new deadline after the film was reshot, and new tracks were demanded.[58]

Rachit Gupta of The Times of India called the music the most disappointing aspect of the film, stating, "[T]he songs just don’t have the spark you’d expect from a film featuring Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Amitabh Bachchan."[59]

Track listing
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Vashmalle"Sukhwinder Singh, Vishal Dadlani4:36
2."Suraiyya"Vishal Dadlani, Shreya Ghoshal4:20
3."Manzoor-e-Khuda"Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh5:05
4."Lori"Amitabh Bachchan1:35
Total length:15:36

Release

Thugs of Hindostan was released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu with 3D and IMAX formats.[60] According to trade analyst Taran Adarsh, the film was initially released in 7000 screens worldwide, including 5,000 in India and 2,000 overseas, the widest for any Hindi film.[61]

In Pakistan, the film was released without any cuts, on 120 screens, which is the biggest number of screens for any release in the country. The film was distributed by IMGC, while Geo Films served as a media partner.[62]

Marketing

The Yash Raj Films's marketing team began their promotion of the film on Monday, 17 September 2018: an official logo and title card was revealed on their YouTube channel.[63] The following day, a motion poster of Khudabaksh, the commanding thug played by Bachchan, was released.[64] This was the first of a systematic marketing campaign that introduced the film's characters to the general public consistently throughout the week, using motion posters. On 19 September, the second character to be revealed was the archer Zafira, played by Shaikh.[65] John Clive, played by Owen, a ruthless British leader, was revealed on 20 September.[66] Suraiyya, a dancer played by Kaif, was displayed on 21 September.[67] 3 days later, the poster of Firangi, played by Khan, who was an eccentric-looking, donkey-riding thug, was revealed.[68]

On 26 September, Khan and Bachchan released a promotional video which featured them speaking in Telugu and Tamil, urging native audiences to watch the film.[9] On 27 September, Yash Raj Films' founder Yash Chopra's 86th birthday, the film's trailer was released on YouTube.[69] The trailer launch was held in Carnival Cinemas, Wadala, Mumbai, on India's biggest IMAX screen, along with the presence of the film's cast.[70] The trailer crossed 30 million views on YouTube on the first day,[5] and crossed 32 million views across digital social media platforms in 24 hours.[71] Dubbed versions were also launched in Tamil by Kamal Haasan and in Telugu by S. S. Rajamouli.[72] It is set to be released in India during the week of the Diwali festival, on 8 November 2018.[73][5]

On 8 October, a five-minute behind-the-scenes video which details the film's ship-construction process in Malta, titled "Chapter 1: Building the Ships," was posted on Yash Raj Films' YouTube channel.[74] The following day, another making video was released, which mentioned the process that went into filming on the constructed ships, titled "Chapter 2: Shooting on the Ships".[75] On 10 October 2018, a third making video titled "Chapter 3: Destroying the Ship" was released, when one of the constructed ships had to be destroyed for a one-take shot.[76] The film's second still poster was released on 13 October.[77] On 15 October, a still from the song "Vashmalle", which was directed by Prabhu Deva and features Khan and Bachchan dancing, was released. Acharya revealed that the song would feature Khan and Bachchan's characters getting drunk and dancing.[78]

On 17 October, YRF released a one-minute long clip of the song "Vashmalle" from the film, featuring a dance montage featuring Bachchan and Khan, on their YouTube channel.[79] A fourth making video was released on 19 October 2018, titled "Chapter 4: Training For Action", which revealed the schedule undergone by the cast for preparing the part of their character.[80] On 23 October, Yash Raj Films released a full four-minute lyrical video for the song "Vashmalle."[81] The following day, 24 October, a still from the song "Suraiyya" was released by the makers.[82] Later that day, a teaser of the song was released on YouTube.[83] On 25 October, a behind-the-scenes video for the "Suraiyya" song, detailing its conception and rehearsals, was released.[84] On 29 October, YRF released a "Costume of the Thugs" video, revealing the concept art and design elements that went into constructing the characters' outfits.[85]

Between 30 October and 2 November, the company released several promotional videos on their channel, including a 14-minute long jukebox, the making of the song "Manzoor-e-Khuda",[86] "Thugs in Thailand" - revealing their shooting of the Thugs' cave lair sequences[87] and "The Two Legends," featuring Khan and Bachchan's opinions about working with each other for the first time.[88] On 1 November, Yash Raj Films partnered with Google, replacing the navigation symbol on all Google Maps services in India with Firangi Mallah's character, who occasionally recites dialogue from the film.[89] On 3 November, YRF released two new videos on their YouTube channel: "Thugs in Rajasthan," which chronicles the crew's filming at Mehran Fort in Jodhpur, and a "Manzoor-e-Khuda" song video with completed lyrics.[90]

By 6 November, three more videos were uploaded on YouTube, including character introduction videos for Khudabaksh and Firangi,[91] with the actors and crew talking about the development and artistry of the two characters, and a lullaby song sung by Bachchan for the film, titled "Lori."[92] On 16 November 2018, the official Hindi trailer crossed 100 million views on YouTube.[93] It became the first Indian trailer to cross 100 million views on the site, and is the YouTube's second most-watched Indian trailer of all time[94][95][96][97] after Zero's trailer, which surpassed it soon.[98]

China

In April 2018, the producers announced plans to release the film in China, where Khan's previous films were successful, including 3 Idiots (2009), PK (2014), Dangal (2016) and Secret Superstar (2017).[99] Chinese distributors decided not to release the film in China on the same day as India.[100] The Chinese censorship process takes about two months, after which Khan plans to release the film there in January 2019.[101] Chinese distribution company E Star Films acquired the theatrical rights,[102] with a minimum guarantee of $20 million (₹145 crore) from China.[103]

Following the film's underwhelming performance in India, the Chinese version has reportedly been heavily re-edited, with significant changes compared to the Indian version. Changes to the Chinese version reportedly include a shorter run time and, in contrast to the Indian version giving balanced screen time to the three main characters (played by Khan, Bachchan and Sheikh), the Chinese version will instead focus mainly on Khan's character, with the roles of Bachchan and Sheikh being cut short while Khan's role is extended with deleted scenes that didn't make it into the Indian version. These changes are partly in response to Chinese audience expectations, to capitalise on Khan's popularity in China, and to reduce elements from the film that were not well-received in India.[104][105] The film is set to release in China on 28 December 2018, with a 120-minute run time, which is 44 minutes shorter than the Indian version's 164-minute run time.[106]

Reception

Critical response

Thugs of Hindostan received generally negative reviews from critics.[107][108] While the performances of Bachchan and Khan drew praise, both Acharya's direction and screenplay were criticised.[109]

Rachit Gupta of The Times of India gave the film two and a half stars out of five and shares the sentiments of most reviewers: "[It] looks like a million bucks, [but] it doesn’t feel the same way". He praised the production design and cinematography, but criticised the lack of suspense and "the predictable nature of the writing... [which] doesn’t help the movie at all". The visual effects were commended, but the pace and running time was criticised.[59] Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV rated the film two and a half stars out of five and called it "big, bloated, [and] bombastic", asserting that it "banks solely upon action and spectacle for impact". He criticised the screenplay and budget's inability to raise the film. He found that Shaikh played some sequences well, while women were overall less represented. He felt it was "ultimately too tacky and unconvincing to lay legitimate claims to being India's answer to Pirates of the Caribbean".[110] Nandini Ramath of Scroll.in labelled Thugs of Hindostan a "trite, uninvolving" film. She felt sequences filmed in the sea were "sluggishly directed", and "the ones on land fare no better". The action scenes were tagged "flat and uninvolving" and the background score as "insistently ponderous."[111]

In a positive review, Rohini Nair of Firstpost appreciated the use of metaphorical allegories in the film and praised Bachchan and Khan's chemistry. She wrote of Kaif: "She writhes and contorts in sequinned hotpants as the plot builds towards its climax". Nair wrote that "all is forgiven in the rip-roaring, all muskets blazing finale sequence of the film". She raises expectations for a sequel.[112] Gupta praised the performances of both Bachchan and Khan; Khan for his "comedy and banter" and Bachchan for his "heroics and the intense dialogues". The ensemble cast, was, however, condemned.[59] Chatterjee commended Khan and Bachchan for bringing "everything that they have", in his review.[110] Commenting on the uneven distribution of screen time, Ramath stated Bachchan "lumbers through the movie and looks exhausted". Khan's chemistry was praised, and the scenes were stated to "came to life" with him with his dialogues.[111]

Taran Adarsh, film analyst for Bollywood Hungama, opined the film was "[a] King-sized [d]isappointment." He felt several good moments in the first half of the film, were hindered by the "formula-ridden plot, screenplay of convenience, and shoddy direction".[113] Writing for the Hindustan Times, Raja Sen remarked that the film is “Pirates Of The Caribbean without pirates or Caribbean”.[114] Shubra Gupta of The Indian Express termed the "a massive cherry-picking enterprise from big entertainers of the past, many of them YRF’s own", and referred to it as "a boring affair". She criticised the screenplay and the plot, and noted that the characters' interactions with each other felt heavy-handed". Gupta, however, praised Khan: "[W]hile he’s around, it’s bearable. Just about".[115] Ankur Pathak of Huffington Post India stated that the film "was so awful that it felt like a satire of itself". He termed the film "a vanity project that tries to cash in on the profitable wave triggered by the Baahubali movies".[116] Rahul Desai of Film Companion sums up the retort: "[It is] the Bollywood manifestation of Halloween – an amusing, self-gratifying but altogether pointless fancy-dress ball designed to trick audiences under the guise of treating them".[117]

Among overseas critics, Joe Leydon of Variety gave it a generally positive review, stating the "expensive and exuberant Bollywood masala delivers the goods as a satisfying popcorn epic."[118] Mike McCahill of The Guardian rated the film three out of five stars, referring to it as an enjoyable irreverent romp.[119]

Box office

Thugs of Hindostan had the biggest morning occupancy for an Indian film in 2018, with 65-70% of the seats booked.[103] Its first day collection in India was the highest for any Hindi film, at ₹52.25 crore nett[120] (₹63.5 crore gross),[121] surpassing the previous opening day records held by Happy New Year (₹44.97 crore), Baahubali 2 (₹41 crore), and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (₹40.35 crore).[120][122][123] On the second day, the film's collections dropped to ₹29.25 crore.[124] Its two-day total was an estimated ₹81.50 crore nett in India,[125] the highest for any Hindi film in its first two days.[126] In three days, the film's domestic collection was ₹105 crore nett,[127] becoming Amitabh Bachchan's first film to net ₹100 crore in India[128] (without taking inflation into account). By the end of its opening weekend on 11 November 2018, the film's domestic collections were ₹123 crore nett[129] and ₹157.69 crore gross.[130] It surpassed Dhoom 3 to become Aamir Khan's biggest opening weekend in India,[131] and surpassed Sanju to become the highest opening weekend grosser of 2018.[132] Thugs of Hindostan also became India's fourth highest opening weekend grosser of all time, after Sultan, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Baahubali 2.[133] In its opening week, the film's collections in India were ₹140.4 crore nett,[134] and ₹180 crore gross,[4] becoming the fourth highest opening week grosser of 2018, after Sanju, Padmaavat and Race 3.[134] As of 26 November 2018, the film's collections in India stand at ₹150.32 crore nett and ₹192.72 crore gross.[4]

Overseas, the film grossed US$6.4 million (₹46.66 crore) in its opening weekend,[135] including US$2.22 million in the Arab states of the persian gulf,[136] US$1.45 million in the United States and Canada,[137] and £497,663 ($638,029) in the United Kingdom.[136] It had the year's third highest-grossing opening weekend overseas, after Padmaavat and Sanju.[135] In its opening week, the film grossed US$7.8 million (₹56.8 crore) overseas.[4] As of 26 November 2018, the film has grossed $9.5 million (₹69.18 crore) overseas.[4]

Worldwide, the film grossed between ₹202.38 crore ($31.08 million)[138][130] and ₹211.98 crore ($33 million)[4] worldwide in its opening weekend, and it grossed ₹238.4 crore ($37 million) worldwide in its opening week.[4] As of 26 November 2018, the film has grossed ₹262.80 crore ($40.22 million) worldwide.[4]

Home media

The film has recovered approximately ₹170 crore ($26.11 million) from satellite, digital and music rights.[139] This includes about ₹140 crore for satelite and digital rights, with satellite rights sold to Sony Pictures Networks India and digital rights sold to Amazon Prime Video.[140]

See also

References

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  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Thugs of Hindostan Box Office collection till Now". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
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  6. ^ "Highest Movie Budgets All Time". Box Office India. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
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