Thai Massage movie review: Gajraj Rao’s film is mildly relaxing, moderately racy, but disappointingly mediocre

The most questionable ad for Thai tourism since The Hangover Part II, director Mangesh Hadawale’s comedy Thai Massage paints a rather confusing picture of the popular tourist destination. And this offline approach seems to have rubbed off on film as well.

On the one hand, Hadawale suggests that everything you’ve heard about Thailand being a hotbed of evil and decadence is correct, on the other, he acts like someone who was given a significant tax break by the Thai government. One would think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with the way the film portrays Thailand – if anything, the country seems comfortable with its rather gentrified image – it’s even more confusing when the film can’t decide which version it wants to present. to the world

At various points, Thai Massage is a Baghban-style melodrama, a small-town comedy, a fish-out-of-water farce, and then, just when you think it can’t be turned around, a thriller about your life. the best life Juggling these tunes would be challenging for any film, let alone one produced by Imtiaz Ali.

Gajraj Rao Atmaram Dubey plays an old widow who one day discovers that he has an erectile dysfunction. Along with his grief, this bothers him so much that he tries to jump off a bridge one night. He is saved by a young noise played by Divyendu who assures him that there is no ‘problem’ they cannot solve together.

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Atmaram musters his courage, and together they come up with a game plan. Of course, he can’t ask for the services of a sex worker in his hometown – the film is based in Ujjain, however, as everyone knows, under the influence of his new friend, Atmaram secretly decides. Visit Thailand and participate in a local culture. Just for fun, he wants to ‘boom boom’.

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But this happens after the post-period, and you might (correctly) wonder how the film gets through the previous hour or so. There is no way to sugar coat it; It basically wastes everyone’s time, including their own. There is a mopey framing device that includes Atmaram recounting his adventures to his two disapproving sons and a subplot of Atmaram’s trial-and-error approach to curing his erectile dysfunction. But the film really comes into its own after Atmaram touches down in Bangkok.

There he meets some colorful characters, who become his companions in this exotic new land. Atmaram, you must remember, has never traveled outside his district except the country. Thai Massage, in its second half, offers a lot, albeit in a more purposeful way, after the meandering first half that doesn’t allow for Thai massage to be written about. There is an interesting subplot involving a carefree Russian girl with whom Atmaram strikes up a genuine friendship, but the resolution of this arc is not as deeply satisfying as the film’s attempt to untangle Atmaram’s troubled relationship with his sons. But you have to leave it to heart. Although he drops the ball frequently, the juggling act never ends.

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Rao, however, is really good in the lead role, putting his own endearing stamp on a character visibly struggling with decades of conditioning as he explores new ideas, meets new people and has new life-changing experiences. Also deserving of a shout out is Alina Zasobina who plays Rita, Atmaram’s Russian friend. She awakens something in Atmaram, and her presence empowers him to express himself freely, a concept alien to him, a fundamentally Indian man. To its credit, the film doesn’t magically transform Atmaram into another person at the end, which is surprisingly restrained for a film that also features a rap cab driver with dreadlocks.

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Thai massage continues Ali’s sudden fascination with sexuality. The evolution of the filmmaker has been somewhat strange to witness, considering the trend of women in his films not as potential romantic partners for his male protagonists, but essentially as non-playable characters in video games, his only job being to point out the hero, observing him throughout his life. . The right direction. In many ways, Ali’s career rebranding is stranger than Anubhav Sinha’s political awakening or He Who Must Not Be Need’s messiah phase. But unlike in recent times Dr. Arora: Guptrog SpecialtiesTo which it shares some similarities, Thai massage has a more delicate touch (even if it is often trampled by a gross man).

A better version of a similar story—the late-life emancipation of a middle-class Indian man—is told in the delightful story Sharmaji Namkeen Earlier this year. Thai massage may not require going to the cinema, but you could do a lot worse at home.

Thai massage
Director – Mangesh Hadawale
the cast – Gajraj Rao, Divyendu, Sunny Hinduja, Rajpal Yadav, Alina Sasobina
Rating – 2.5/5


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