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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
This Diwali season two Bollywood movies are playing in theaters. Thank God, a fantasy comedy drama and Akshay Kumar’s Ram Setu, a mythological extravaganza. I was late for Ram Setu so I decided to see Thank God. The movie has received good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and I’d enjoyed Sidharth Malhotra’s performance in Shershaah, so I was gratified by my choice.
Black Money Troubles
The movie starts with a larger-than-life real estate agent, Aayan Kapoor (played by Sidharth Malhotra), selling multimillion rupee properties and amassing mountains of cash. He is flying high. Amassing wealth and living an exclusive lifestyle, till the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, decides to demonetize the 500- and the 1000-rupee notes.
Overnight his 16 crores of black money, created by evading income tax, is worthless! Aayan Kapoor has lost his Midas touch. Now what will this poor, not-so-rich-anymore boy do?
If it were the sixties, and the hero was Raj Kapoor, he would get a factory job and sing sad songs and make us feel sorry for his plight.
If it were the late eighties and Govinda was the protagonist, he would probably work as a coolie. He’d come up with a ridiculous scheme to marry the daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur working alongside the PM. He would entertain us for the rest of the two hours with his dance moves and cheesy humor.
But Thank God is set in 2022 and the audience deserves something different and original. The movie delivers.
The hero is injured in a car crash and is in a surgical ICU. Here’s where the script gets a dose of fantasy. Ayan Kapoor is transported to heaven where Yamdoot (YD) and Chitragupta (CG) give him a second chance. They send him back to earth, asking him to play a game called Game of Life.
The cinematography is good. The visual of a circular crystal amphitheater, with a Star Trek-like galaxy and with YD and CG, is pleasing. There are rows and rows of spectators dressed in pure white and armed with black-and-white acrylic balls. How Ayaan completes the game and returns to earth to reunite with his family forms the pivotal part of the plot.
In the game, there are references to Kaun Banega Crorepati and Amitabh Bachchan to anchor it to popular Indian themes. The Q&A is a modern take on the ancient law of karma, which is entrenched in Hindu philosophy. The movie, directed by Indra Kuma, although interesting and familiar to all of us, is not original. It is an official remake of the Danish-language film Sorte Kulger. I would like to watch it when I can.
I thought Ajay Devgn, as Chitragupta, was commanding and comfortable in his skin. He carried the game forward. Sidharth Malhotra plays a flawed character, selfish and self-absorbed. His good looks don’t cast the same spell as in Shershaah because “beauty is what beauty does.”
The seed of his identity is visible at an early age on another Diwali night, when he blames his sister Tanya for a mishap. Rakul Preet Singh as Ruhi Kapoor, a devoted police inspector and loving wife, fits the script, but she loves Ayaan to a fault. Kiara Khanna as Pihu Kapoor plays the young daughter. Mahesh Batra’s archaic garb as Yamdoot is more authentic than the modern getup. Seema Pahwa as Aayan’s mother shines in her brief appearance.
Not Deep, But Watchable
Overall, apart from Nora Fatehi’s (Canadian model turned actress) erotic dance number, Thank God is a family-oriented film. You can watch with your kids, and don’t have to tell them to close their eyes and block their ears, unlike most Bollywood films that do not adhere to their PG ratings.
Light-hearted and quixotic in places, the film delivers a good message during the festival season to play fair at home and at work. If you want to know whether the innate goodness in Aayan Kapoor’s character overcomes his greed and he wins the game of life, you can see Thank God. As we say in India, it’s a good time pass.