Onto the next release of the weekend and I have finished watching the new Hindi film Thai Massage which is now streaming on Netflix. Every time there is a small Hindi film which is out, my curiosity levels are often piqued. This is because while I do know what to expect from the big Bollywood films, the smaller ones often manage to slip in a surprise with their content. And so while Thai Massage did have a blink and a miss kind of a theatrical release, I was looking forward to watching it on OTT.
Often films are catered around the Gen Z with problems which are millenial in nature. But amidst the chaos and solutions, we do miss out on the problems of our parents, especially single mothers and fathers. One of the main problems that they face is loneliness, something that can catch up with you even more during old age. It was recently that Ratan Tata had invested in a companionship service for senior citizens precisely citing this reason. And this is what was indicative from the trailer of Thai Massage as well. That said, is Thai Massage worth your time, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Thai Massage follows the story of a 70 year old man who after the demise of his wife realises that his body doesn’t function effectively so. The story here is a great concept and a good coming of age drama, atleast on paper. But it is the screenplay standing at 2 hours which is disappointing backed by poor execution. There was so much one could have done with this sort of a subject but in trying to pack in a lot of elements, the picture does get distorted.
The drama does kick off in a small town in typical fashion with the introduction of the protagonist and the world around him that comprises of his joint family. The writers formulate the entire tale in flashback where the holier than thou father figure is discovered to have secretly made a trip to Thailand without the notice of his son or others in the family. The writers do well in introducing the conflict early on in the film. However, a serious issue of erectile dysfunction is again reduced to a comedy, something that Bollywood has bern guilty of time and again. I do not have a problem with the comedy too but it should be handled in a sensitive manner. Instead here, it does border on a cringefest.
The proceedings are largely unfunny which is ironic given the situation. But particularly in the first half, the writing does get immensely repetitive thereby making the screenplay lag. The entire portion of the protagonist being used by a stranger for his personal problem just did not sit right for me. In between, there are poignant and profound moments when the drama does not try to be a comedy. And more such moments were needed in the screenplay that does flatter to deceive.
The change in the setting to Thailand in the second hour does work in the film’s favour. I just wonder if this particular portion could have been introduced even earlier in the plot as it genuinely does account for some laughter, although at times disjointed. The events unfolding in Thailand are decently entertaining and something that did find my attention back after a weak first hour wherein I was quite distracted. As the film progresses, I increasingly felt that this was a missed opportunity. And I say this because during the second half of the second hour, the film becomes more of a coming of age story with the importance given to traveling and seeing the world through your own eyes. Had the core idea of this film been this, the film would have had an even bigger impact.
We have seen road films and films involving travel. In fact, the recently released Amitabh Bachchan starrer Uunchai also had traveling in a film at the centre of it. So instead of erectile dysfunction which was the foundation here, the foundation should have been the idea of traveling the world, with either completely discarding the erectile dysfunction part or adding it as a mere subplot. So overall, the screenplay is plain average and fails to impress in totality.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are largely unfunny and fail to create any impact. The music is just about average and not memorable. The BGM doesn’t exude any confidence as well. The cinematography is pretty good particularly in the second half that captures the scenic locales of Thailand really well. Director Mangesh Hadawale misses the mark with his execution. The humour wasn’t extracted well and certain scenes did get repetitive and they could have been shortened too.
The performances in the film save the day to an extent of making the drama watchable. Sunny Hinduja as Mukesh is incredibly good and nails the Indori accent too. Rajpal Yadav provides another timely reminder on why he has an incredible knack for comedy. His scenes did evoke the maximum laughter. Anil Charanjeett also is pretty good. Divyendu Sharma as Santulan is pretty good too and wish he was given better lines to tap into his comic timing. Gajraj Rao as Atmaram is absolutely brilliant. He is sincere even when the script tries to reduce him to a caricature but his mannerisms and body language are simply brilliant to witness. This was a towering act in an otherwise average film.
Thai Massage is a drama comprising of a good story and acting but pretty average execution and an unfunny screenplay. Available on Netflix.