THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
India Today|August 09, 2021
Though Toofaan and Sarpatta Parambarai both released on Amazon Prime Video in July, the two boxing films fight wholly different battles
Rahul Desai

Over one rainy week in July, two heavyweights lock horns in a ring. The 2021 version of ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ features an Amazonian showdown between two pugilists from opposite ends of the Indian sports-movie spectrum. Both of them idolise the great Muhammad Ali. In the red corner is Toofaan, a July 16 release, rooted in the squalor of modern-day Mumbai’s Dongri: a Hindi-language drama helmed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, starring Farhan Akhtar as a Muslim brawler turned-boxer. Toofaan veers from simple to simplistic. The film is more of a reaction to cinema than life, hitting all the old-school Bollywood notes: underdog orphan, interfaith romance, public downfall, private redemption.

The result is a safe, template-driven potboiler—coached by predecessors like Mary Kom (2014), Apne (2007) and Boxer (1984). Muhammad Ali’s shadow looms large but only in a physical sense—the protagonist is inspired by his technique, his skills. Even the cultural nuances—Islamophobia, match-fixing—are appropriated in service of a broader Bible. In short, Toofaan is the kind of film where humans only play a role in boxing narratives.

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