Last weekend, Netflix India quietly dropped Thar, which I’d consider to be one of the best Hindi movies of the year. But I’ve realised this is in contrast to the reviews the Raj Singh Chaudhary movie seems to be garnering.
With an average rating of 3.4 stars on Google Reviews, many seem to be upset over the movie’s confusing plot lines or a lacklustre performance from one of the leads. And yes, while both the arguments hold merit, I also think Thar has gone in a direction I never thought Bollywood would take. Here are my reasons:
1) Stellar Cinematography
Forget Anil Kapoor or Fatima Sana Shaikh, the real star of the movie is cinematographer Shreya Dev Dube. Munabao feels like a small village stuck in purgatory.
Dube’s lens not only captures the punishing nothingness of Thar’s expanse but also the theme of nihilism deeply rooted in the film’s theme. From the first frame itself, you get to know that no one here is going to have a happy ending. Special mention to additional DOPs Jay Oza (Gully Boy, Raman Raghav) and Swapnil Sonawane (Dhappa, Newton), who help Dubey and director Raj Singh Chaudhary in realising their vision.
2) Western Influences With An Indian Tadka
Many reviewers have already drawn parallels to Clint Eastwood classics. But what they all seemed to miss is that while maintaining its spaghetti western theme, the movie still very much feels Indian. Be it the poster of Sholay used as a prop, or the not-so-subtle casteism showcased throughout the movie.
Of course, the obvious nod to Sergei Leone is clearly at the front and centre of the movie. Although, I can’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance it shares with Coen brother movies, more specifically No Country for Old Men. And that’s a very high bar to reach.
3) A-listers With A+ Performances
Anil Kapoor and Fatima Sana Shaikh are arguably the biggest names in the movie, and they both prove that in every frame. Anil Kapoor plays Inspector Surekha Singh, a grizzled cop who is in his twilight years. But he’s still unflinching while taking on dacoits, investigating a series of brutal murders or straightening his moustache before going into a shootout.
Kesar played by Fatima Sana Shaikh is a victim of her circumstances, who flip-flops from being the Damsel in Distress to Bandit Queen, when required. But a special hat tip should go to Jitendra Joshi for what I think is the best performance in the movie. His portrayal of Panna Ram is so visceral that you instantly feel uncomfortable whenever he appears on the screen.
4) The Music
No spaghetti western is complete without a memorable score. Be it Ennio Morricone’s theme echoed throughout classics like Man with a Harmonica and The Good The Bad and The Ugly or be it R. D. Burman’s iconic theme used in Sholay. Thankfully, Ajay Jayanthi’s music here is terrific, brilliantly capturing the tension we feel as the plot unfolds itself.