Brothers: Will Siddharth Malhotra be able to match up to Tom Hardy in Warrior?
This Friday, we see the release of Brothers, in which Akshay Kumar and Siddharth Malhotra will be punching the lights out of each other with the hope of winning audiences' hearts. Brothers is the official Hindi remake of the 2011 film Warrior, directed by Gavin O'Connor. It pit Joel Edgerton against a bulked-up Tom Hardy. Hardy already had something of a fan following by the time Warrior released.
He'd been noticed in Christopher Nolan's Inception and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by Tomas Anderson. Just when Hardy had established himself as a lean, drool-worthy, posh bloke, he appeared as Tommy, the rough-edged fighter who was all muscle, tattoos and rage in Warrior. Hardy was almost unrecognisable and everyone fell in love with him all over again.
In Brothers, Malhotra is the desi Hardy. To this end, he has a beard, lots of bulk and a mean-looking earring for extra impact. Is that going to be enough though?
For the bulk of Brothers' audience, it doesn't matter that the film is a remake. Just as there's usually no comparison between Hindi remakes of South Indian films, few will watch Brothers with O' Connor's film in mind. However, for those who enjoy both Hollywood and Bollywood, these remakes can be revealing and one of the obvious contrasts is in the acting department.
Watching a Hollywood film and then seeing its Bollywood remake is the simplest way to be confronted with how much more melodramatic performances are in Hindi cinema. For instance, can Malhotra bring something other than glycerine-induced tears to his portrayal of the troubled younger brother who fights like a mad dog? As an actor, how will he compare to Hardy?
To begin with, Malhotra doesn't have Hardy's swoon-worthy pout. Neither does Malhotra look quite as mean and dangerous as Hardy did in the film, judging from the trailers and movie stills. Most importantly, if the Brothers trailer shows Malhotra's best and most dramatic moments, that doesn't bode well. In each of them, Malhotra seems to be trying very hard to play a part and he's the one who seems most artificial in comparison to Jackie Shroff, who plays his coach, and Akshay Kumar, who is the older brother. Just watch the trailer of Warrior and see how much more convincing Hardy is as Tommy.
Interestingly, the role of Monty in Brothers could do for Malhotra what Warrior did for Hardy. So far, Malhotra has established he's reliable as the clean-cut, smooth-faced romantic hero with Student of the Year and Hasee Toh Phasee. In Ek Villain, he played a gore-loving hitman who discovers a softer side when he falls in love. For the first time in his short career, Malhotra will be love-less in a film. There will be no gaana-wala song for him to melt hearts with in Brothers (those are in Kumar's chunk of the plot). All Malhotra gets are scenes of anger and fighting.
Brothers is the story of two brothers who have a love-hate relationship. David (Kumar) is the elder brother who was once a fighter and now is a school teacher. Monty is the younger, angrier one. Circumstances lead the two of them to enter a championship and unsurprisingly, the climax sees David and Monty fighting each other.
All this is quite faithful to the plot of Warrior, which was unabashedly formulaic. Added to the mix are some of Bollywood's favourite sentimental tropes, like a jailbird father and a sick child who needs an expensive operation. However, what made Warrior a joy to watch was the way it established its characters. Every encounter between the brothers and their father in particular — whether verbal or physical — was enacted with nuance and tenderness. You followed what these men were feeling and worried for them, rather than noticing just how hackneyed the plot was.
In Brothers, Malhotra is the one who has the toughest challenge among the actors. Jackie Shroff as a former alcoholic is perfectly credible. It might be a bit of a stretch to imagine Kumar as a physics teacher (especially after seeing his version of a college professor in Gabbar is Back) but he's shown he can deliver a restrained acting performance when he wants to. Also, it will probably help that Kumar is 47 and perhaps felt the strain of performing his own stunts more than he used to as a young man.
Malhotra is the only one who has to pull out all the acting chops he has in him. There's nothing in his real life that actually helps him relate to Monty. From accent to experience, it's all unfamiliar to Malhotra.
Can Malhotra pull a Hardy — never mind how dubious that sounds — and make us forget the cute, romantic hero and instead lust after a brutish Monty? Wait till Friday to find out.
Updated Date: Aug 12, 2015 17:15:35 IST