Director: Mangesh Hadawale
Cast: Gajraj Rao, Sunny Hinduja, Divyenndu, Anuritta K Jha, Rajpal Yadav and others
Where: In theatres near you
Rating: 3 stars
Rarely in Bollywood there comes a film that is headlined by a 50-year-old actor playing a 70-year-old in it. Three-time National Award-winning director Mangesh Hadawale brings a social comedy titled ‘Thai Massage’. The film revolves around the life of an ageing man, who is sexually dissatisfied. The film deals with the issue of erectile dysfunction and the stigmas attached to it.
Santulan (Divyenndu), a small-time barber, pushes Atmaram Dubey (Gajraj Rao) to go to Thailand to fulfil his sexual desires after his wife passes away due to ailing health. What happens in Thailand and how Atmaram’s life changes upside down, forms the rest of the crux.
Atmaram’s universe comprises of his son Mukesh (Sunny Hinduja) and daughter-in-law Anu (Anuritta K Jha), two married daughters and their dramatic husbands, three grandchildren, a nagging neighbour Panchal aunty (Vibha Chibber) and a friend, who only encourages him to follow the path of spirituality.
Mangesh’s subject is engaging but comes with several inhibitions. Set in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, he takes a lot of liberty in telling his quirky story. Considering small towns have their own pace, behaviour and lifestyle but still, how far would a stranger go to fulfil the needs of another stranger? The camaraderie is fun but its existence seems to have no purpose. It also touches upon a tender father-son relationship that is the underlying chronicle.
Undoubtedly, Gajraj Rao has changed the dynamics of the lead actor in our Hindi films. The trajectory of an actor par excellence like him has changed ever since ‘Badhaai Ho’ turned out to be a milestone in his career. At the age of 50 with an ordinary persona, Gajraj beautifully manages to make his space. He not only led the writers to think out-of-the-box but also pushed audiences for social acceptance.
In ‘Thai Massage’, Gajraj’s vulnerability is to watch out for. He dealt his character Atmaram with utmost loyalty. Even though Divyenndu and Sunny are promising, but not even for a second you would want to shift your focus from Rao. Anuritta highlights a perfect portrayal of a doting mother, caring daughter-in-law and supportive wife. However, talented actors Vibha Chibber and Rajpal Yadav are wasted to the core. Being unnecessary fillers in the narrative, they just add more runtime to the film besides adding a bit of humour.
‘Thai Massage’ is an honest film that has its heart at the place. However, its slow pace in the second half, continuity jerks and poor dubbing at one or two places make it strictly a one-time watch.
Director’s Cut: Mangesh Hadawale reveals, ‘My 51-year old father’s paralysis attack was the germ of Thai Massage’