Thugs of Hindostan is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language action-adventure film written and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, and produced by Aditya Chopra under his banner Yash Raj Films. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh. Set in during the Company rule in India, the film follows a band of Thugs led by Khudabaksh Azaad, who aspires to free Hindostan (the Indian subcontinent) from the rule of the expanding British East India Company. Alarmed, British commander John Clive sends a small-time Thug from Awadh, Firangi Mallah, to infiltrate and counter the threat.
Produced on an estimated budget of ₹220 crore (US$31 million), Thugs of Hindostan is one of the most expensive Bollywood films. Initially titled Thug, the film marked the first time Khan and Bachchan featured together as leads, and was the second collaboration between Khan, Acharya and Kaif, after Dhoom 3 (2013). Principal photography commenced on 5 June 2017 in Malta; the film was also shot in Thailand and Mehrangarh. It was put on a short hiatus after Bachchan was injured on set. Filming concluded in March 2018, the final schedule being completed in Rajasthan. The soundtrack was composed by Ajay-Atul, with lyrics written by Amitabh Bhattacharya.
Thugs of Hindostan was released in IMAX, 4DX and conventional theaters during the week of the Diwali festival, on 8 November 2018. It received generally negative reviews from critics and audiences, with praise towards the performances of Bachchan and Khan, and criticism towards Acharya’s direction, story and screenplay. The film recorded the highest first-day collection and highest two-day collection for any Hindi film in India, and the fourth biggest opening weekend in India, but immediately experienced a significant drop in the second day itself. The film released in China on 28 December 2018, where a special edition edited by Aamir Khan was released. Thugs of Hindostan has grossed ₹335 crore ($49 million) at the worldwide box office.
In 1795, when the Indian subcontinent was known as Hindustan or Hindostan, King Mirza Sikander Baig was killed by John Clive. The residents of his kingdom are massacred, and the land is annexed by the East India Company. The only survivors are his daughter, Zafira Baig, and general, Khudabaksh. Khudabaksh defeats the retreating enemy soldiers, and raises Zafira as his daughter, training her in the arts of warfare.
Years later, Khudabaksh, now known as Azaad, leads a band of Indian bandits known as Thugs, who specialise in sea-based warfare and expose a serious challenge to the expanding British East India Company which had, by then, seized control of large parts of India. John Clive is alarmed, and assigns his right-hand to counter the rising threat posed by the Thugs.
Firangi Mallah, a good-for-nothing, small-time Thug who makes his living by stealing necessary accessories, is recruited by the British to meet this challenge. He appears before Azaad and asks him for his refuge. Azaad accepts, and Firangi turns into a routine informer for the company. He finds solace with a dancer named Suraiyya. Firangi aims to be an English-man himself, and hence dresses up as one in many circumstances.
When Azaad and his men make a stop to pick up muskets from a local ruler who supports their cause, Firangi betrays them and lets the East India Company know about their location. When the forces of the East India Company surround the warehouse where they are meeting with the ruler, Azaad lets Firangi know that he knows Firangi has sold him out but he still believes that Firangi has some good in him. After a short duel, Azaad is about to fall to his death when Firangi saves him. Azaad sees that Firangi is conflicted with his feelings about working for the East India Company and asks him to help with his cause. Azaad then asks him to look after Zafira and then sacrifices himself by confronting the East India Company forces alone so that Firangi and Zafira can escape. Azaad survives, but is captured by British men.
At the final encounter with the British at an abandoned fort, Azaad and Zafira fight the British and find themselves outnumbered and their ranks falling. Firangi and his cronies suddenly appear and turn the tide of the battle. Zafira defeats Clive, and justice is served. Azaad looks to the sky and realizes the infertile land has now borne fruit, suggesting that Firangi has now become an empathetic human capable of greatness.
Amitabh Bachchan as Khudabaksh Jhaazi (Azaad), a commander of the Thugs
Aamir Khan as Firangi Mallah, a small-time Thug from Awadh
Katrina Kaif as Suraiyya, a dancer and performer
Fatima Sana Shaikh as Zafira Baig, a warrior-archer Thug
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Shanichar, Firangi’s friend
Lloyd Owen as John Clive, a ruthless British East India Company officer
Ronit Roy as Mirza Sikander Baig
Sharat Saxena as Maharaja Sangram Singh
Ila Arun as Jaitumbi
Satyadev Kancharana as Naqaab
Gavin Marshall as Capt James Powell
Vikas Shrivastav as Daroga
Kalida Jan as Ammi
Deshna Dugad as young Zafira Baig
Sharad Joshi as Aslam, son of Mirza Sikander Baig
Shaji Chaudhary as Bhure Lal (thug)
Kaivalya Chheda as Lala ji (Groom)
Abdul Quadir Amin as Azhar Ali