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Review: ‘Thar’ Impresses With Its Aesthetics but Has an Underwhelming Screenplay

'Thar' stars Anil Kapoor, Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor, and Fatima Sana Shaikh.

Updated
Movie Reviews
3 min read

In Thar a police inspector and his subordinate discuss the possible culprits behind the horrific murders they are investigating. “I have a feeling the story isn’t about Gabbar” says the inspector thoughtfully, chewing on Laal Maas, “It could be Jai and Viru, Thakur or even Basanti.”

This Sholay of a case attains supreme importance in Inspector Surekha’s life as he struggles to find value and meaning in his years of service. Written and directed by Raj Singh Chaudhary and the dialogues by Anurag Kashyap take us to the border village of Munabao in Rajasthan. The year is 1985 and the bursts of gunshots reveal a sense of disquietude.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor in&nbsp;<em>Thar.</em></p></div>

Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor in Thar.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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One of the most striking features of Thar is the cinematography. DOP Shreya Dev Dube’s camera glides over the vast expanse of the parched desert land, adding texture and substance. This is a landscape thirsty and desperate for respite much like its inhabitants. A dusty shroud of secrecy covers many uncomfortable truths.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from&nbsp;<em>Thar.</em></p></div>

A still from Thar.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

As Surekha and Bhure (Anil Kapoor, Satish Kaushik) chase their criminal, we too are on the trail of what first appears to be a drug mafia with tacit support from across the border.

The constant play of light and darkness, the unforgiving sun, and raw visceral surroundings brought alive with precision and skill. The soaring eagle eye aerial shots and the unhurried pace together set the deliciously dangerous milieu.

We are hooked all right, more so when Anil Kapoor and Satish Kaushik perform with the kind of ease only consummate actors can. However, it’s the sparse story and a rather underwhelming screenplay that leaves us wanting for me. As a crime thriller-revenge drama Thar is no great shakes. To an alert viewer the denouement is pretty evident. So, violence is used to shock us which it does the first one or two times and then the malevolent forces seem repetitive.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Anil Kapoor and Satish Kaushik in <em>Thar.</em></p></div>

Anil Kapoor and Satish Kaushik in Thar.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

That’s when the narrative loses its sheen and despite being visually arresting the characters and their motivations appear rehearsed or self-conscious additions. For instance, some smart observations are made about the condition of women and caste politics but it just skims and remains on the surface.

Anil Kapoor mines the weariness and wisdom on his face with aplomb. Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor plays the self-proclaimed antics dealer Siddharth with a hollow, vacant look throughout the film. His face really doesn’t give away anything, it registers no emotions and one is not sure if this is the best he could do or was he instructed to play the character with a lost look. Perhaps we will never know.

Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jitendra Joshi, Rahul Singh, and Mukti Mohan all try hard but remain shackled by the heavy burden of half-baked writing.

Thar however impresses with its visual aesthetics and atmospherics.

Rating: 2.5 Quints out of 5

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