Director Karan Malhotra’s Brothers is a remake of the 2011 American film, Warrior. The story is about a violent, alcoholic father Gary (Jackie Shroff) and his two estranged sons – David and Monty, played by Akshay Kumar and Siddharth Malhotra, who face off against each other in a glorified MMA fighting contest called ‘Right To Fight‘.
The fight sequences are well choreographed, and the second half of the film packs quite a punch. The flashback depicting the bitterness between the brothers is convincing.
So, where does the film falter?
The first half is tediously melodramatic. So much so that Jackie Shroff’s theatrical performance often edges on being unintentionally funny. The climax fight between the siblings is marred by highly-emotional moments and clichéd editing. And so, a film which could have been the perfect sports/MMA thriller, ends up being a painful Bollywood drama, with everything else taking a back seat.
And then, what’s a Bollywood action film without a little misogyny? A scantily-clad Kareena Kapoor in yet another item number, performing things that range from the bizarre to the sleazy.
Akshay Kumar plays a physics teacher. Again. Same as in Gabbar Is Back. His students, wide-eyed and a little star-struck, jostle to catch a glimpse of the tattoos on his neck and upper arms, hidden carefully inside his full-sleeved, formal shirts. Kumar repeats his Gabbar Is Back mannerisms, too. Subtle smiles, gloomy eyes, and controlled body movements. His wife, Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandes), doesn’t want him to go back to that fatal fighting game again. But they have loans to repay. And an adorable, pretty little daughter, who needs an expensive kidney transplant.
David’s half-brother Monty, on the other hand, craves for respect and honour in a society which has been abusing and shaming him for being an illegitimate son of a former fighter. David has everything that Monty doesn’t have, and that explains Monty’s inferiority complex, anger, and insecurities. Monty’s sole path to fame, dignity, money and revenge is the MMA fighting game. Siddharth Malhotra, in this never-seen-before avatar, is surprisingly convincing.
The film spends ample time showcasing the duo’s impressive training sessions. The men generously flaunt their bodies, and the build-up to the R2F contest is pretty effective. Although, one can’t help wonder, why Bollywood filmmakers love to place Germans as the most evil and tough opponents in any fictive international event. In ABCD 2, we booed the arrogant, mean German team, and in this one, again, a gigantic German fighter named Luca, known for crushing and even killing opponents in the fighting ring, is the main contender for the title. The audience howl and cheer when Monty, in a fraction of seconds, knocks him out. The fight sequences are electrifying, and one can be forgiven for feeling that the stunt choreography team has done a far better job than Karan Malhotra.
To remake a film, a passionate martial arts film like Warrior, one should step out of the realms of the traditional Karan Johar Bollywood formula, which inanely places heart over head. Brothers culminates in true Bollywood style – tears flow, love reignites, and broken families reunite. We can only pray that Malhotra and his kind never remake a David Fincher film. We’d live to regret if we ever watched that.