Brothers: Unintentionally nostalgic

Brothers is what you could call the classic Bollywood family feud. It’s about two half-brothers torn apart by the murder of their mother (Shefali Shah) by their alcoholic father Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff). While elder brother David (Akshay Kumar, the only actor who does not speak in an Anglo-Indian accent), moves on from the family’s street-fighting ways to live a regular life as a physics teacher, Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) deals with their recovering father, now back from prison, whose guilt is driving him crazy.

But with street fighting ingrained so deeply in their blood, both brothers find it hard to stay away from the sport. For David, who has a young daughter suffering from a kidney ailment, the ring is where he makes, in three hours, the money he would in three months as a teacher. And for Monty, the ring presents the opportunity to battle his inner demons, the biggest of them being his belief that he’s an illegitimate son. So when street fighting gets legalised in the form of an IPL-style competition called R2F (Right to Fight), the brothers get to fight mixed martial arts champions from across the world.

Genre: Drama

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra, Jackie Shroff

Director: Karan Malhotra

Storyline: Two brothers fight against each other and their past

Sports drama films, by nature, start becoming predictable, culminating usually in a do-or-die battle. But the fun isn’t in second-guessing the ending, as much as it is in the journey of getting there. Even in Brothers, the moment the competition line-up is announced, you can predict how the rest of the film will pan out, with each round leading to tougher fights. But what if we want neither fighter to lose? That’s the film’s (or its Hollywood original Warrior’s) greatest triumph. So, while we want David to win so he can take care of his daughter, we’re equally drawn by Monty’s own need to be accepted, even if it means beating his brother.

Add to this duel, the plight of the father — who’s sure to lose no matter who wins — and we realise that the fight is actually between three people. At this point, every punch and every kick hurts all three. Like in any family feud, pain inflicted on the other is pain inflicted on oneself.

It’s clear why Karan Johar wanted to remake the film, given how it’s basically a Bollywood film at heart. But it’s surprising how little has been done with such a great premise. Despite being set in contemporary times, the films feels like a 90s pot-boiler, with an over-the-top Jackie Shroff, Kiran Kumar playing a businessman named Peter Bregenza, Shefali Shah in a role where she’s expected to cry throughout, and Akshay Kumar whose ‘action’ speaks louder than words. There’s even Raj Zutshi hamming it up as a commentator.

After a point, the film begins to feel oddly nostalgic. Remember action films like Mohra, Khiladi and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi? This film takes you back to all those films — don’t fight that nostalgia. Watch Brothers as though it were one of those… it is, after all, a return of the khiladi.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 10:57:00 PM |

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