Bollywood’s answer to Pirates of the Caribbean, the swashbuckling, star-studded Thugs of Hindostan sails into cinemas on Thursday, battling British colonisers on a quest for loot and box office records.
This year’s big release for India’s Diwali festival, the seafaring song-and-dance fest with superstars Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan cost $42 million, making it the most expensive movie to date in the Hindi-language industry.
Filmed in India, Thailand and off the coast of Malta, it brings together for the first time Bachchan and Khan, two of Bollywood’s most bankable stars, in battles against the British East India Company in 1795, and with stunts and pyrotechnics galore.
With his witty one-liners, maverick persona and tousled hair, Khan’s character bears a strong resemblance to Johnny Depp’s lovable pirate rogue Jack Sparrow, and the movie has a strong whiff of the “Pirates” series.
“But story-wise, there is no similarity between the two films,” Khan, 53, insisted at a recent news conference in Mumbai.
Khan’s previous films including Dangal, Dhoom 3 and Secret Superstar have broken box office records and amassed millions across India and beyond, including in China.
Directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, Thugs also stars actresses Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh and all the cast underwent rigorous action training to dodge bullets, leap off burning ships in preparation for their battles with British soldiers.
Trade analysts believe it will break records and take in more than a one billion rupees ($15 million) over the long Diwali weekend, a highly auspicious time for India’s majority Hindu population.
“The move has hype, hysteria, scale and stars some of the biggest Indian superstars and has a holiday weekend to do humongous business,” analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP.
“It will easily be one of Hindi film industry’s highest grossers with Aamir and Amitabh’s star power and will set new records,” Rathi added.