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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