Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Mrunal Thakur, Paresh Rawal, Vijay Raaz and Sonali Kulkarni
Toofaan… and you wait for the storm to unfurl on the small screen. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video, this Farhan Akhtar-starrer, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, is one of the most awaited releases of the year. Point is; does it whip up the necessary storm as the title promises?
Sure, there is frenzy in the execution of boxing scenes. Little seems amiss in the boxing ring. Though the director may proclaim it is not a film about boxing, the film’s best moments belong to Farhan Akhtar and the way he becomes a boxer and boxes with precision and technique. One can’t help but laud Farhan. His craft and art both show in ample measure. As does his ripped body, ultra fit, all sinewy and toned to perfection. The hard work he puts in shows in every single ounce of his body and almost in every frame that he inhabits.
Alas, one can’t help but moan as his stupendous effort fails to elevate the film to the level of uplifting. The story of the underdog Aju bhai, a small time goonda of Dongri, who turns into Aziz Ali, a boxer, ends up being more clichéd than motivational. A real pity, for Mehra known for creating such wonderful and inspirational emotional dramas fails to tug at our heartstrings with this one. Even the most emotive scenes despite an excellent Farhan leave us dry eyed.
Yes, the ensemble of actors the director has roped in, are top of the line. Apart from Farhan, Mrunal Thakur, as his love interest Dr Ananya, does a fantastic job. Like a breath of fresh air she holds herself with aplomb amidst stalwarts. Paresh Rawal as the rather bigoted boxing coach Nana Prabhu is on point too. While it is refreshing to see Dr Mohan Agashe play a key cameo of Nana’s friend with a head firmly on his shoulders, there is the supremely talented Supriya Pathak and the ever dependable Vijay Raaz and Darshan Kumar lending support in otherwise not so fleshy roles.
The director, however, seems to have missed the cut. With a Hindu- Muslim love story at the heart of it, its heart might be in the right place but it’s not a beating heart. The moment you meet Ananya and Nana Prabhu the boxing coach, you know the connection between the two. Later in the film, the minute you see her walking down the railway bridge stairs you know where it will lead her.
As the film bats for Hindu-Muslim communal harmony, it dares to show us its ugly face in the diatribe Nana indulges in all too often, as well as the standard responses of both communities. Sadly much seems contrived.
At places the film reminds us of Salman Khan’s Sultan too as it runs the same distance of a sportsman bouncing back after a gap of few years. Wish the narrative too had the same bouncy effect. With a runtime of 2 hours 40 minutes, Toofaan loses steam every now and then.
It regains some energy in the anticlimax as the boxing bouts are eye-catching and redeem the film somewhat. But it is yet another example of what could and should have been. With best names in the industry—lyricist Javed Akhtar, composers Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Toofaan was certainly meant to be the film we could have rooted for wholeheartedly. As it exists, we can only cheer for its actors, especially Farhan who is reason enough to watch the film once.