Directed by: Karan Malhotra
After remaking a well-known Bollywood film as his directing debut, Karan Malhotra’s second film, again under the Dharma Productions banner, is another remake, but this time of a Hollywood film. Brothers is a very desi take on the 2011 sports drama Warrior, which sees Sidharth Malhotra and Akshay Kumar take on roles originally played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, two estranged brothers who end up competing against one another in an mixed-martial arts tournament.
I was surprised by how the Bollywood retelling of the story does kind of work, going down the melodramatic route that only a Bollywood film can get away with, but only just. One of the main issues Brothers has is the show it makes about establishing MMA as a thing in India. I get why they need to make a point of making it a thing, as pretending MMA, or Right 2 Fight as they call it, is already a known Indian sport would have been less convincing. The amount of screen time the setting up of it gets though, for a story that is more about the relationship than the choice of sport itself, does raise the question of whether not adapting the story to a more suitable already-established-in-India sport would have been a smarter choice, and seemingly less lazy on Karan Malhotra’s part.
I thought both Sidharth and Akshay Kumar did a pretty good job, though the younger version of his character had a lot more to do than he did, which is a shame. It’s nice to see Akshay in a slightly different, and more age-appropriate role as well. Jackie Shroff was alright, but I think the character was more complex than he could manage, or indeed the performance the director could get out of him. And Jacqueline Fernandez pretty much did nothing. Shefali Shah, on the other hand, in quite a short role, was impressive. I didn’t know she was in the cast, but it was a pleasant surprise.
For a Dharma film it’s fairly low on songs, which in itself is not a problem at all, however when one of the very few is potentially the worst item number in a big film in a long time, you kind of wish there were even less. Kareena Kapoor Khan’s choices are often questionable anyway, but a lot of what’s wrong with Mera Naam Mary Hai isn’t really her fault. To go from Chikni Chameli in Agneepath, to this is quite a big step down. Thankfully it was intercut with some plot relevant scenes with Akshay, though it could have been edited better.
Overall, it’s a better remake than I was expecting, with good performances from its leads. Karan Malhotra has mostly proven himself with action melodramas, but it’ll be interesting to see how he manages if he ever decides to explore other genres, or even just something original.