As a matter of coincidence, 2 films – one in Hindi (Toofan) and the other in Tamil (Sarpatta Parambarai) both essentially sports dramas that too based on Boxing, got released almost at the same time two weeks ago on Amazon Prime. Probably it would have been to coincide with the Olympics where as we speak, India has a good chance to put up a good show in Boxing! I thought I will do a quick review of both these films together as they have much in common but also some stark differences which makes Sarpatta Parambarai (SP) a far superior film than Toofan.
First up, the similarities. Both Toofan and SP showcase the journey of a boxer and in that, the rise, fall and rise of an underdog, a template in which most sports dramas are modelled on, invariably. Both the films are set in metro cities but the protagonist hails from one of the lower strata localities of the cities – namely Dongri in Toofan and North Madras in SP. In both the films, the coaches are initially shown as grouchy and not warming up to the heroes but later become supportive and pillars of support though for totally different reasons.
The screenplay in both the films briefly brings in crime and hooliganism but quickly get back to the boxing track in the end. Female protagonists in both the films are strong characters and they are the ones who end up giving a direction and meaning to the existence of the hero. As the screenplay unfolds, the sequences are almost predictable in both the films. Both Farhan Akhtar, the main hero in Toofan and Arya, the male lead in SP have put in a lot of efforts physically to get into the shape for the character and briefly get out of shape too! Both get the body language of a boxer bang on through rigorous training and emote with utmost sincerity. And yes, there is this one typical montage song when the hero trains in both the films which is now a standard feature in all such films. Both films are far too long and could have been better with some trimming.
And coming to the differences. In terms of making, SP scores far higher than Toofan. One of the huge pluses in SP is its portrayal of nativity. The North Madras dialect is perfect all through the film while in Toofan, Farhan Akhtar who speaks in the Tapori lingo in the first half in the second half completely forgets the lingo and speaks normally. Toofan brings in an active romance line with the associated naach gaana etc. while in SP the romance is superficial and to the point. In short, it is like a sports drama made by Karan Johar. You get the drift.
The story lines while dealing with boxers and boxing is obviously different in both the films, In Toofan, the story follows a young man who is basically a henchman and who gets into boxing at the behest of his girlfriend. Along the way, the angle of religious divide is brought in and a betting scandal because of which the hero’s climb in boxing is interrupted. The latter part is obviously about how the hero redeems himself. SP is about the intense rivalry spanning generations between clans around boxing in North Madras. The story is about how the hero helps in re-establishing his clan’s Numero Uno status after a long gap.
I must say that with Sarpatta Parambarai, Director Pa. Ranjith makes a strong comeback as a quality film maker after two average outings. On the other hand, with Toofan, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who directed superior films like Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milka Bhaag has gone a few steps behind as a film maker.
As I mentioned both are predictable films. Yet still both are watchable as the sequences keep you engaged. In fact, you would have seen each and every scene of Toofan in some film or other in the past. It is that clichéd. Sarpatta Parambarai is watchable for the natural and intense performances of a bunch of actors who bring the nativity of North Madras right before your eyes. Just for its sheer making, I would put Sarpatta Parambarai a few notches above Toofan. Both are a one-time watch.