Thai Massage movie review: Gajraj Rao’s movie is rather relaxing, somewhat racy, but disappointingly average

Possibly the most suspicious advertisement in Thai tourism since The Hangover Part 2, director Mangesh Hadawale’s comedy-drama Thai massage paints a somewhat muddled picture of the popular travel destination. This non-binding approach appears to have affected the film as well.

On the one hand, Hadawali suggests that everything you’ve heard about Thailand being a hotbed of vice and decadence is accurate, and on the other hand, he’s behaving like someone who just got a big tax break from the Thai government. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, one would imagine. And while there’s not necessarily anything wrong with how Thailand is portrayed in the film – if anything, the country seems comfortable with its slightly saucy image – it’s even more confusing when the movie itself can’t decide which version it wants to present to the world.

In different stages, Thai massage is a baghban-style melodrama, a small town comedy, an out-of-water farce, and then, just when you think you can’t turn it around again, an adventure movie about living your best life. Matching these tones would be a challenge for any film, let alone a film by Imtiaz Ali.

Jagraj Rao He plays an elderly widow, Atmram Dobby, who discovers one day that he is having trouble getting an erection. Besides his sadness, this bothers him so much that he tried to jump off a bridge one night. He is snatched off the edge by a young guy played by Divyendu, who assures him that there are no “samasya” they can’t solve together.

Antararam spills his guts, and together they come up with a game plan. Of course, he can’t order the services of a sex worker in his hometown – the movie is set in Eugene, by the way, where everyone seems to know everyone – and so, moved by his new friend, Atmram decides to do it in secret. Travel to Thailand and take in some local culture. Just kidding, he wants to do “Boom Boom”.

But this happens after the interval, which may (rightly) make you wonder how the movie spends the previous hour or so. There is no way to cover it with sugar. He’s basically wasting everyone’s time, including his. There is a Moby framing device that includes Atmaram narrating his adventures to his two naysayers, and a subplot about the trial-and-error approach Atmaram uses to treat his erectile dysfunction. But the movie actually comes on its own after Atmaram landed in Bangkok.

There, he meets two colorful characters, who become his companions in this strange new land. You must remember that Atram has never traveled outside his region, let alone the country. And after the meandering first half that doesn’t offer much to write home about, the Thai massage, the second half…offers more of the same, albeit in a more purposeful way. There’s an interesting subplot involving a carefree young Russian woman who has a true friendship with Atram, but the resolution of this arc is highly unsatisfactory, much like the movie’s attempts to undo Atram’s turbulent relationship with his sons. But you have to hand it over to Hadawale, though; Although he keeps dropping the ball every so often, the juggling process never ends.

However, Rao is really good at the central role, putting his lovable character on a character who clearly struggles with decades of conditioning, even as he explores new ideas, meets new people, and has new life-changing experiences. Also worth a shout out is Alina Zasupina, who plays Atram’s Russian friend Rita. She awakens something within Atmaram, and her presence enables him to express himself freely, a concept alien to him, an Indian man. To its credit, the movie doesn’t magically turn Atmaram into a different person in the end, which is surprisingly limiting for a movie that also includes a rap taxi driver with Majdal.

The Thai massage continues Ali’s sudden fascination with sex. The director’s development has been somewhat odd, given his lifelong penchant for observing women in his films not as potential romantic partners for his male protagonists, but primarily as non-video game characters whose only job is to point the hero in the right direction. In many ways, the renaming of Ali’s career was even more bizarre than the political awakening of Anubhav Sinha, or the stage of the Messiah that should not be named. But unlike the last Dr. Arora: Gupt Rouge VishagiaWith which it shares many similarities, Thai massage has a more delicate touch (even if it often feels like a burly man is trampling on it).

A much better version of a similar story – the emancipation of a middle-class Indian man late in his life – told in a play Sharmaji Namkin earlier this year. A Thai massage may not guarantee a trip to the cinemas, but you can do much worse at home.

Thai massage
Director – Mangesh Hadwali
spit – Jagraj Rao, Devindo, Sunny Hinduja, Rajpal Yadav, Alina Zasubina
evaluation – 2.5 / 5


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