REVISION: A warm-hearted Parsi gym owner in the neighborhood introduces Aziz to videos of the legendary Muhammad Ali. ‘Boxing Aur bhaigiri mein yahi farak hai. Boxing is a sport that needs technique, discipline and patience, not just strength, ‘he clarifies. Recognizing his potential and the expert training he deserves, Aziz is recommended to a highly respected boxing coach, Nana Prabhu (Paresh Rawal). The Dadar veteran is suspicious of a Dongri Muslim with a notorious record, but agrees to take him under his wing. He even grants him the title of ‘Toofaan’ (unstoppable storm), but this near-perfect relationship between coach and protégé takes an ugly turn when things get personal.
Forbidden love, casual intolerance, community harmony, the creation of a boxer and the redemption of a disgraced athlete… Toofaan tries to travel several paths at once. In doing so, the fictional tale feels vaguely like a hodgepodge of various movies you may have seen before … Ghulam, Sultan, Mukkabaaz. Given the fact that Toofaan sees Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra reuniting with his solid Bhaag Milkha Bhaag team: Farhan Akhtar and Shankar Ehsaan-Loy, one expects nothing less than fireworks. What you get is an ordinary story told in an overly simplistic way. A few empty punches, a few solid punches, a lot of dodging the opponent and eventually tire of the vibe, Toofaan is a strange mix of succumbing and destroying stereotypes. Love is at the heart of the story, but boxing drives the narrative. Juggling doesn’t seem organic and is a lot like one interrupting the other.
You always have a choice, Ananya believes. Uprooting yourself from the world you were born into and updating yourself is not easy. The protagonist of the film does so without batting an eye, and you hope to follow his journey, inner conflict, and boxing prowess. However, the focus shifts to a conventional interfaith love story, social scrutiny, parental outrage, and boxing as an extended highlight.
The strongest parts of the film revolve around its modest and realistic setting, the coach-protégé relationship, and the confrontation over community discourse. Interestingly, these scenes are shortened and emotions are controlled to keep the story moving. The story gives the impression that it wants to dig deeper into topics like religious tolerance, empathy, and prejudice, but it just scratches the surface.
After Bandra’s boy Ranveer Singh made his way to your heart through the Dharavi ravines in Gully Boy, you have Farhan Akhtar doing some Phoda phodi in Dongri in Toofaan. While Ranveer still has general appeal, Farhan’s urban thinking personality can be overwhelming. The actor-screenwriter-director takes his time but manages to mold himself into a character that is not even remotely close to his sensibilities. When it comes to her physical transformation, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has already shown her sincerity and determination to sport the role. It’s all or nothing for Farhan and this time he’s sticking to the plan too. His face to face with renowned Indian boxers like Neeraj Goyat, Gaganpreet Sharma is captivating.
Parash Rawal gives the film its best moments just by throwing a glance at his highly misunderstood boxer. He, along with Dr. Mohan Agashe, show you how good actors can raise a standard script. Mrunal Thakur rehearses his role in a serious and undramatic way. What also stands out is that the characters don’t wallow in self-pity when they’re in crisis or pretending to be something they’re not. Aziz cheekily admits: “Boxing mein jo foda fodi hai, Woh Kareeb hai apne.”
Overall, Toofaan may not be the cyclone you were expecting, but it definitely has its thunderous moments.