Thank God – Movie Review
It may be seen as a widening of the net if mainstream Hindi cinema picks a Danish film Sorte Kugler (2009) by Anders Matthesen to remake as Thank God. It is also easy to see why Indra Kumar would be attracted to the original– it lends itself to a smooth Indian adaptation, because the concept of the celestial account-keeper of human karma is part of Hindu mythology. It also allows for free rein of kitsch in the production design, since Indra Kumar’s films are not exactly known for their subtlety.
Ajay Devgn is a ‘modern’ Chitragupta, however, dressed in natty suits, not the shiny satin and gilt of mythological characters of Indian films and television. Yamdoot is in bow tie and suspenders; the Apsaras look like cheerleaders. There is an explanation offered for these sartorial choices– it’s the age of Amazon Prime not Doordarshan. Heaven looks like a giant dish from the outside and a garish TV show set inside. There’s no accounting for taste or lack of imagination.
Ayaan Kapoor (Sidharth Malhotra) is a greedy real estate broker, whose black money empire is ruined by demonetisation. A car crash takes him to Chitragupta’s aka CG’s (Ajay Devgan) court, where he has to account for the misdeeds (“kaali kartoot“) of his life. Which, in the larger scheme of evil in the world seem like tiny faults. Being envious of his wife’s (Rakul Preet Singh) police career or not attending a kid’s PTA meeting are hardly hanging offenses.
CG’s purgatory has been designed as a game show, which, he says was copied by “that tall actor” when he was in there earlier.
There are screens playing scenes from Ayaan’s life, and audiences that toss into his ‘paap’ and ‘punya ka ghada.’ All of this accompanied by loud background music.
The humour of the original has geen replaced by excessive verbosity and a elementary moral science kind of finger-wagging. (“Parayi aurat ko behen aur ma ki nazar se dekhna chahiye“). There is space made to include a Nora Fatehi dance number too! And of course, the sacrificing Ma (Seema Pahwa)
The film is tacky 80s style Bollywood in Netflix ka zamana, to paraphrase a line from it. The only actor among the lot who seems to be having some fun is Ajay Devgn because of all those fancy dress costumes and corny lines which he delivers deadpan. A big screen does no favors for this heavy handed, unfunny dramedy… it could have gone straight to streaming.
(This piece first appeared in scroll.in)