Release Date: 26/11/2021
Cast: Salman Khan, Aayush Sharma, Upendra Limaye, Mahima Makwana
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
‘Antim: The Final Truth’ is the official remake of the 2018 Marathi hit Mulshi Pattern that was written and directed by Pravin Vitthal Tarde. Tarde also starred in the film in a key role. The Hindi remake is directed by Mahesh Manjrekar who evidently had a lot more control on the filming and the execution of the film than people like Remo D’ Souza and Prabhudeva. I say this because previous films like D’Souza’s Race 3 and Prabhudeva’s Dabangg 3 and Radhe didn’t feel like they had any directors or direction. Mahesh Manjrekar, on the other hand had a successful Bollywood debut with Vaastav, a film that was very similar to Antim. Vaastav cemented his place in Bollywood as a storyteller. He was also associated with Mulshi Pattern and this gave him critical knowledge of the film’s genesis letting him understand the film better than anyone else involved in adapting it with Salman and Aayush in the lead.
The story revolves around a rowdy but spirited lad, Rahul (Aayush Sharma) who witnesses his family being forced out of their village by a businessman who first buys their lands for pennies and then violently abuses Rahul’s father who he holds in very high esteem. Forced to shift to Pune in search of a livelihood, Rahul is quickly sucked into the local gang politics when he raises his voice against the injustice meted out by the gangs to the laborers who are already reeling under the weight of their respective responsibilities and the precious little that is there to make a living out of. Rahul quickly rises through the ranks to become one of the most dreaded gangsters of Pune but in his blind-run for riches and land, he turns into the same demon that he hated the most. Soon he is denounced by his parents who chose to live in poverty but never take a rupee from him.
Things turn interesting when Rahul’s meteoric rise to power brings him to the notice of Rajveer Singh (Salman Khan), an intelligent cop who has devised a way to clean up the gangs by pitting them against one another. Rajveer understands that Rahul comes from a difficult place and that he has been forcefully turned into the monster that he has become but that doesn’t mean that he would take it easy on him. He understands that Rahul needs to be put down eventually and soon that time arrives.
Antim is a much better film than what we have been used to from Salman Khan for the last few years. While that isn’t too high a bar to beat, Mahesh Manjrekar does a lot of things right that ensure that the film not only remains engrossing but also leaves a certain impact on its viewer. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that this isn’t Rajveer’s film. This is Rahul’s story and Rajveer happily steps out of the way on multiple occasions to let Rahul take centre stage and take centre stage he does. The immediate issue that I could think of emanating out of giving Salman Khan less screen time was whether Aayush Sharma had it in him to hold on to the attention of the audiences with his performances and when the audiences knew that their Favorite bhai was lurking somewhere in the background and could jump on to the screen if they called him with all their heart.
Thankfully Aayush delivers a thoughtful and well squared off performance that is a mishmash of subtlety and craziness. I was sweetly surprised by his essay and would go to the extent of saying that he does a better job with the character than Salman Khan does with his. Aayush comes to his own after he completely accepts his dark side and is shown doing some horrific things.
One scene that I enjoyed very much was the one in which he finally regains the land that his father had lost to a businessman and then calls him to inform him of his success only to shunned by his father who still hates him for becoming the goon that he has become. Aayush enacts the intricacies and the conflicts of the character in this moment with a lot of emotional and dramatic punch. I also liked the scene where he apologizes to the love of his life. The climax where something shocking happens with his character was also an affecting watch because of how he reacted to the situation.
In the trailer of the film, Salman Khan felt like repeating his character from Radhe, Race 3 or any other of his films where he is the Bhai and it is enough for him to just appear on the screen for it to work. However when you see Antim, you realize that the character of Rajveer is specifically designed in a way that makes him feel laid back. He almost always expresses his expert opinions on the prevailing situation of law and order and yet plays along as a part of the system.
It is only in the very end that we realize that he has been purposefully lying low letting the goons kill each other before he himself comes into the fray and dispatches whatever of them remains after their internal wars. Salman is the perfect fit for a character like this and after a long time, he is immensely likeable here. His relationship with Aayush is evident in his sparkling chemistry with him that proves to be one of the highlights of the film. Antim couldn’t have been a bhai film without the customary heroic moments assigned to Salman and Manjrekar doesn’t deny the Bhai fans their moments to cheer.
That brings me to the action of the film that reminded me of Manjrekar’s Vaastav. There is a lot of gunfights and mayhem but none of it is in keeping with the hyperbolic unrealistic action that we have come to expect from Salman Khan Films. Most of it is grounded in realism and is effective. The fact that Aayush Sharma looks like someone who could pull off the things that he is shown pulling off only adds to the fun of it all.
Before you step into Antim, you must understand that this is not a Salman Khan film. He is there in an elongated friendly appearance that is peppered all over the film to not only boost its viewership but also to add that X-factor to it. The character of the police officer also had to be played by someone who could hold sway over Aayush’s menacing and overbearing Rahul and Salman proves to be the perfect match to do that. Rahul is the protagonist here and the majority of the film is about him and his predicaments. Aayush does well enough to keep the viewers engaged in his story even in the presence of someone like Salman Khan.
Antim still suffers from the same issues that a film like this is bound to suffer from. We have seen so many of such similar fares before that we can practically predict every twist and turn of the film rendering it ultimately predictable and somewhat boring. The presence of Salman Khan and his onus on building Aayush’s career in a certain way doesn’t allow Mahesh Manjrekar to take the film the “Satya” way and has to stick within the binds of commercial cinema. This further hurts the cause of the film. The fact that the film and its plot feel so familiar to Manjrekar’s Vaastav also leads to obvious comparisons. Even the protagonist’s spiral into an abyss that he has created for himself and the change in his mannerisms resembled Vaastav’s Raghu albeit Aayush has done a commendable job with the character.
Final Words. Antim is entertaining enough to keep you engaged through its runtime. Salman Khan turns in a good performance and Aayush is unexpectedly absorbing. The film’s story is relevant albeit repetitive. The music should not be a concern for any in a film like this. I have to add that the background score, although rousing and inspiring is sometimes a little too meddling in telling you how to feel about a moment. This feels like a step in the right direction for Salman Khan and might just prove to be a career changer for Aayush who had a questionable debut with Loveyatri.
Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)
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