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August 14, 2015

Movie Review :Brothers


Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Jackie Shroff

Director: Karan Malhotra

Rating: 2.5/5

How does a commoner in India understand MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)? It’s something that allows you to throw punches like a street fighter without getting arrested. Well, this is what the two hysterical commentators of R2F (Right To Fight) keep repeating for most of the second half in director Karan Malhotra’s Brothers, official remake of 2011 Hollywood film Warrior.

If you find nothing wrong in Ashutosh Rana as an MMA trainer who has a Brock Lesnar poster on his wall, then Brothers could well be your own version of Warrior. But, even then, it would be difficult for you to overlook the hard work done by Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy in making Gavin O’Connor’s nuanced premise believable.

Here’s a god-fearing Christian family in Mumbai which is struggling with its daughter’s kidney ailment. Parents David (Akshay) and Jenny Fernandes (Jacqueline) have three jobs between them, but they’re still way short of making both ends meet. David, who was trained in freestyle-street fighting by his father Gary (Jackie Shroff) in his teens, is a Physics teacher. He returns to illegal bouts for the want of some quick money, but even that is not enough, so he decides to compete for Peter Bregenja’s (Kiran Kumar) R2F which is all set to begin its India chapter.

Monty Fernandes (Sidharth) is a loner who doesn’t even give a second glance to super-glamorous Kareena Kapoor in ‘Mera Naam Mary’. He is not happy with the state of his dysfunctional family and holds David and Gary responsible for it. Monty also participates in unlawful street fights but he is not properly trained, so he concentrates on channelising his anger. Don’t ask me how that is going to help him against some really talented and well trained athletes! As expected, he also arrives at Peter’s R2F and now it’s a battle of wit, will and wickedness.

The makers have done a smart thing by retaining almost all the key scenes from Warrior in Brothers. These are the points where the audience feels involved in the story. It’s amazing to see how the same issues affect lives in two different spheres. However, the problem starts the moment it deviates from the original storyline. Nick Nolte was a man with a restrained demeanour, but Gary has a special affinity for theatrics. Apart from the scene where he spoils Monty’s birthday, he mostly reminds the viewer of yesteryear’s villain Nilu Phule. He either barges into a room with a loud sound or cries inconsolably, but fails to recreate the same effect that Nolte did without hamming. You remember how powerful the Warrior scene was where Nolte gets drunk and Hardy consoles him. Brothers recreates it but with absolutely zero impact.

However, not all new additions to the film are bad. Some of them are well thought out. For example, the camaraderie between the two brothers and how it developed over the years is a nice blend of sweet and sour, and looks authentic while Warrior doesn’t delve deep into this aspect. Also, the build up to the climax is praise-worthy, especially the sequence in which a fighter kicks Shroff or the series of juxtapositions used towards the end. Unfortunately, these moments are very few in number.

One of the bigger problems is the character of the coach played by Frank Grillo in the original. This time, we see a rustic Rana in place of a Beethoven-loving expert. No, it’s not the urge to watch the same film in Hindi. Brothers is an official remake, so if the absence of an integral part pushes the plot to fizzle out at a crucial juncture, it’s going to be counted.

The second thing is the representation of athletes and their fierce energy inside the ring. In Brothers, we witness some caricatured fighters with strange background scores and weird fighting techniques. Some of them try their best to appear like hardened criminals than sportspersons. Doesn’t this gimmickry dilute the whole idea of making a film with no prejudice against MMA events?

Spoon-feeding is another issue. Why do we always need a character to describe what ‘exactly’ is happening on the screen! If Akshay Kumar is dodging his opponent, somebody would immediately say, “Ye apne opponent ko thaka thaka ke maar raha hai.” If we can’t get such a simple thing in one glance then we certainly don’t deserve the remake of a fine film like Warrior. Similarly, the commentators yell at the crowd that its Mahabharat reloaded. Come on, we could figure that out. Two brothers, one fight, family dispute, no?

Some judgmental errors are so glaring that it’s hard to think them as continuity mistakes. Phone rings at David’s house, Jenny picks up and says ‘hello’, but that doesn’t prompt the other person to stop for a breath and wait for David to respond. He keeps speaking to an imaginary David as if two different sound bytes are edited together. Another silly one is the scene where all the boxers are introduced to the media. They are only handful in number and all of them are sitting in the same hall on the same side of the table, but David and Monty realise each other’s presence only after it’s announced on the mike. That also reminds me of sluggish editing during MMA fights. Not much care has been taken in displaying the characters’ movements across the frame.

Now, come to the most crucial part of the film, the fight sequences. Apart from some shots it’s mostly satisfactory, thanks to Akshay Kumar’s controlled aggression. He impresses with his understanding of ‘emotional’ action sequences. He is good at hand-to-hand combat and he is brilliant at displaying his eternal dissatisfaction with life. Easily the best of the lot. Sidharth Malhotra is against an uphill task because he’ll be compared with Tom Hardy. He tries, but probably that won’t be enough.

Karan Malhotra’s Brothers is not Warrior. It’s an ode to formula-driven content. Having said that, Brothers still offers you some fantastic fight sequences and a matured Akshay Kumar. You can also consider it a new film rather than a Warrior remake and be happy about it.

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