A couple of years back, Karan Malhotra had taken up the herculean task of remaking a cult Hindi film and giving it a different spin altogether. The director passed the test with flying colours. With his first film, he proved that he has a good command of the basic grammar of Hindi cinema. ‘Agneepath’ (2012) was a big-budget extravaganza that had the essential ingredients of a commercial Hindi film mixed in the right proportion. The drama was highly impactful and the emotions came out effectively well. After remaking a Hindi film classic, Malhotra now looks at the West for inspiration with his second feature ‘Brothers’, being an official remake of the Tom Hardy-Joel Edgerton starrer ‘Warrior’ (2011).
Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff) meets his son Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) after coming out of jail. David is now a guilt-ridden man burdened with the sorrow of a personal tragedy that befell his family because of him. The incident led to Gary separating from his elder son David (Akshay Kumar) and the two brothers falling apart. While Gary has Monty by his side now, David is married to Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandez) and has a daughter Poopoo (Baby Naisha Khanna, who is suffering from a kidney ailment. David has left his days as a fighter behind him and works as a physics teacher in a school. Even as David and Jenny shuffle between three different jobs, they find it difficult to keep up with the high-end expenses that result from Poopoo’s medical bills. Monty’s only source of livelihood is the street fights he participates in. The estranged brothers decide to participate in R2F: Right To Fight, a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) tournament which is to be held in India for the first time. The prize money for which is a whopping Rs. 9 crores (Rs. 90 million). While the prize money would help David pay off his debts and treat his daughter, winning the tournament would give a boost to Monty’s career. David knocks at the door of Paasha (Ashutosh Rana) to help him get back into the ring and Monty starts training with his father, an ex-fighter.
It is no surprise that Karan Malhotra decided to remake ‘Warrior’ as the Hollywood flick had the ethos of a Hindi film and was almost crying to be remade in Hindi. ‘Warrior’ had a lot of drama but subtlety was the key there. Karan’s intention was to “Indianize” the original film and add a liberal dose of melodrama and emotions in it. He had a wonderful plot in his hand which, unfortunately, he does not exploit to its fullest potential. But, even as he strikes a few false notes, he largely succeeds in what he has out to make. There are several dramatic moments that tug at your heartstrings. The second half is fast-paced and even though it consists of a series of fight sequences lined one after the other, it is a treat to watch them as they are choreographed well. The climax, like most of the sequences in the film, is similar to the original but is impactful nevertheless.
Karan had shown a penchant for melodrama in ‘Agneepath’ and he carries forward his style in this film. The drama is far from being understated and is punctuated by an unrestrained background score. While a lot of the dramatic sequences have been handled well, the director has gone overboard at times. The first half could have had a faster pace to it. The back story (much different from the one in the original) leading to the family’s tumble comes across as slightly contrived. Plus, the way it rolls out makes you feel knackered. The screenplay is similar to the original with a few alterations. While some of the changes work, most of them are far from being impressive. In the original, the younger brother’s character (Tommy; played by Tom Hardy) was fleshed out better than the one played by Sidharth in this film.
Akshay Kumar offers a rousing performance as an erstwhile fighter getting back into the ring for his family. He excels in the action sequences and is very effective in the dramatic portions. Jacqueline Fernandez is seen in a non-glamorous avatar and proves that given the right opportunities, she can shine in a performance-driven character. She does not have a lengthy role but gets some good moments in which she gives a very good account of herself. The effort that Sidharth Malhotra has put in to get the fight sequences right is evident but he has a long way to go before one can take him seriously as an actor. He does not show any improvement since his last performance and remains expressionless throughout the film. Jackie Shroff is terrific as a worn-out man with a haunting past. He portrays the anguish of a failed father very well. Shefali Shah has a brief role but shines as always. Kulbhushan Kharbanda gets some good scenes to enact and he is wonderful. Ashutosh Rana delivers an arresting performance and it is a pity that this humongous talented actor has not been utilized well in Hindi cinema. Raj Zutshi and Kavi Shastri offer many fun moments as commentators. The actors portraying the younger versions of David and Monty, Master Arsh Gyani (as young David), Master Darsheel Kumar (as young Monty), Meghan Jadhav, and Prateik Bhanushali, are very good. Kareena Kapoor-Khan looks extremely gorgeous in the “Mera Naam Mary” song.
Karan Malhotra made a very promising debut with ‘Agneepath’ and although the spark that he had showed with his first attempt as a storyteller is not as evident here, he does not make a mess of a film either. Ekta Pathak Malhotra’s adapted screenplay is nothing to boast about. She does not make any noteworthy changes and if the film works, it is because of the original screenplay written by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman. Ajay-Atul’s music is good with “Mera Naam Mary” and “Sapna Jahan” being the pick of the lot. Their background score, though loud, is in sync with the mood of the film. The cinematography (Hemant Chaturvedi) comprises of some memorable shots. The fight sequences (Justin Yu and Eric Brown) are highly engaging and a major asset of the film. Akiv Ali’s editing is good but the first half could have been tighter.
After shining as a director in his debut film ‘Agneepath’, one expected a riveting action drama in ‘Brothers’ from Karan Malhotra. Though he proves that he has a good command over drama and can extract emotions well, he could have done a better job with the subject. Even with the shortcomings, the film has a lot of factors going in its favour. Though the film is not as compelling as the original, it has its merits. The drama, stemming from strained familial relations and the engaging action merge well enough to create an entertainer that works.