STORY: Prize-fighters David and Monty are bitterly estranged brothers – who wins when they face each other in the ring?
REVIEW: So, Brothers is essentially Akshay Kumar’s triumph, with some knock-out moments – and a few punches that fall flat. Gary Fernandes (Jackie) is a prize-fighter married to Maria (Shefali). They have one son, David (Akshay) – and then, Monty (Siddharth), born from Gary’s extra-marital affair, appears.An old school potboiler where self-sacrificing mother is the cause of fire, Brothers simmers with emotion and action in a new shiny pan. When one becomes the pivot for the other, results are often whistle-inducing. Here director Karan Malhotra egged on by trainer Karan Johar provides enough kicks to keep the galleries in the game.
An adaptation of Warriors, Karan draws heavily from Gavin O’Connors’ film but ultimately he manages to place his own beast in the ring. It is full of clichés that we associate with this kind of blood fest but both the emotional and physical fights are skilfully staged so that you can’t punch the film into the mocking corner. It reminds of Apne. In fact, one smirks when one of the big names in the ring is called Luca. Remember it took the whole Deol family to outwit him. Here the emotions are more internalised and the fights are more stylised and realistic.
Monty’s mother passing on, the boy has nowhere to go. After turmoil, Maria accepts him into their home. David becomes Monty’s protective big brother – but relationships shatter when Gary’s drinking causes a tragic accident. The brothers bitterly split – only to face each other in a prize-fight years later.
Who wins this battle over body, soul – and memories?
Brothers features Akshay Kumar in one of his best roles. Sans his trademark twinkle, Akshay is grimly severe here, using tense muscles and intense silences rather than Gabbar Is Back-style bombast. With greying hair and soft, sad eyes, Akshay carries Brothers on his shoulders, meriting applause for a vulnerable, memorable performance.
The other performances are weaker.
Siddharth Malhotra remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery, with few dialogues and limited expressions. The lack of fire in Siddharth’s Monty just doesn’t build up a sense of furious clash – instead, it makes the brothers’ face-off curiously flat.
In contrast, Jackie Shroff’s Gary melodramatically blusters around, first soaked in boozy arrogance, then weeping wretchedness, but neither grips. As David’s wife Jenny, Jacqueline’s pretty but inconsistent, resembling the script which mentions David and Jenny have three jobs each, but shows us one out of six.
The cameos work better. In a brittle little role, Shefali conveys trembling, conflicted emotions while Ashutosh Rana as a cheeky manager and Kiran Kumar, as a martial arts promoter covered in mystery and cigar smoke, pad this drama well.
On the plus side, Brothers adapts Hollywood hit Warrior with a Bollywood beat. The script builds a powerful contrast between a bleak first half and a lively second. Following brothers-mothers movies like Deewar, Brothers revisits Bollywood’s ‘Ma’ obsession, offering action, adrenalin and abs too.
However, its angst could have hit a much harder punch – for when blood sours, it explodes.
But Brothers, despite mouthing, ‘Har sport mein thora drama toh hota hai’, only skims that dramatic surface. It could’ve dived in deeper.