Netflix seems really keen to expand into the Indian market with more Hindi content. Thar is the streamer’s latest attempt to strike a chord with the masses on the sub-continent. The platform has succeeded with offerings like Sacred Games, The Fame Game, Mai, and many more. However, this Hindi Netflix film has western elements that can propel it to global screens.
It focuses on the hinterland, particularly, a village deep in the dry and dusty eponymous desert. Shreya Dev Dube’s camera exquisitely frames the parched landscape, animal carcasses, and the location where the story unfolds.
Munabao is a place where nothing happens. It is so quiet that a police officer in the region is seen to have had a career so safe that he would earn his pension before a promotion. However, a grisly sequence of events turns everything on its head.
Starring Anil Kapoor, Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor, and Fatima Sana Shaikh in pivotal roles; Thar on Netflix focuses on an investigation that begins with a grisly murder that has a warning note. It’s right there in that moment that director Raj Singh Chaudhary permitted viewers to understand what would unfold over the next 90 minutes.
What’s Good in Thar on Netflix?
Thar’s cinematography is something that stands out. It is through this window that we get to see Munabao and experience the dusty landscapes. One chase scene even has the director use it as an element once the bullet shatters the glass. Combined with Ajay Jayanthi’s pulsating background score, this is one of the bursts of action that breathes life into this neo-western film.
Shots of the sprawling desert landscape give one that classic western feel that can transport them back in time to the classic westerns or even the spaghetti westerns. One western that came to mind after seeing the jeep move along to the horizon in the sunlight was No Country for Old Men. Perhaps it was this Academy Award-winning effort that led me to liken one character to the psychotic Anton Chigurh?
While the frames and characters may remind you of North American westerns, Anurag Kashyap’s dialogues shed light on a very famous Ramesh Sippy film.
Emulating an iconic character such as the one Javier Bardem played is not a good idea. Hence, it was good to see that Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor wasn’t required to be psychotic. His eyes and body language didn’t seem to revel in his gruesome actions, and his demeanor was a clue to his motivation.
Anil Kapoor, as Inspector Surekha Singh, brings his acting chops to the fore with an age-appropriate role. His character shows the world that wishes do come true as he laments the lack of ‘real’ police work. Singh isn’t meant to command the screen, and Kapoor accomplishes that with a display of maturity. Thar couldn’t have done without him; remember that scene where he reacts to his wife’s response about his promotion?
In the last 30 minutes, Thar springs to life as you finally understand why things are happening. It is here that you can sort out the muddled mess and receive a payoff for sitting patiently.
What’s Not Good in Thar?
Thanks to the first 75 minutes and the final 10 minutes, this 108-minute Netflix Original feels as though it is much longer.
The film bursts into life with about thirty minutes left. However, getting there is a challenge, especially as one may not catch the accents. Also, the film fizzles out toward the final ten minutes and you begin to wonder whether the subplot should have been the main plot. Audiences begin to entertain this thought after the action picks up, breaks their stupor, and then veers into familiar territory.
In the present-day streaming era, viewers usually would opt to head back to browse if something is too long and doesn’t hook them at any point. While length isn’t an issue here, perhaps a crisper edit could have really helped increase the impact of this film. Even when Thar seems to get a dose of adrenaline, a cut to another character just sees it all come to nothing.
The scenes for the first two acts provide no hint about why something is happening. At times, audiences may even get confused about who the real villain is. When one begins to get an idea, they may wonder about the other subplot and feel even more confused.
In terms of word of mouth, this could prove costly for audiences used to short episodes.
Should you Watch Thar on Netflix?
As the media is a reflection of society, it is good to see that Thar is a reflection of the 80s society without aiming to infuse present-day elements into the same. Head covering, blame for infertility, the caste system, and patriarchal society are present in scenes throughout the film.
Thar is an essential piece of cinema for Western aficionados. It would be tough to not spot references to work from iconic westerns from the 60s in this new film on Netflix. The movie is a western throughout, but police procedure and revenge thriller battle with each other.
It is something you may have to do with yourself as Chaudhary elects to let the audience view the actions in the impromptu torture chamber. Stay away from this brutal western if you wish to avoid grisly content, but watch it if you like a slow build. Thar is one of those films that would have worked very well on the big screen.
Thar is now streaming on Netflix.