Thar review – Anil Kapoor’s violent cop thriller puts the punch in Rajasthan


Show caption Authoritative … Anil and Harshvardhan Kapoor in Thar. Photograph: Supriyakantak/Netflix Film Thar review – Anil Kapoor’s violent cop thriller puts the punch in Rajasthan There are hints of Sergio Leone and Cormac McCarthy in this Rajasthan-set mystery starring the actor and his son Peter Bradshaw @PeterBradshaw1 Fri 6 May 2022 11.30 BST Share on Facebook

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Raj Singh Chaudhary is the Indian actor, screenwriter and now director who has developed his career under the mentorship of Anurag Kashyap, the creator of the mob classic Gangs of Wasseypur. Chaudhary has now made a punchy, nihilistic, western-style thriller, co-written with Kashyap, with hints of Sergio Leone and the borderland paranoia of Cormac McCarthy.

The setting is Rajasthan in the 1980s, but not the Rajasthan beloved of tourists and attenders of the Jaipur literature festival: this is the vast, forbidding and starkly beautiful Thar desert between India and Pakistan. Movie legend Anil Kapoor turns in a likable, authoritative performance as a veteran police inspector called Singh whose beat covers the remote village of Munabao. As he nears retirement, Singh has to deal with a sudden incursion of banditry and violence from drug runners bringing opium across the border from Pakistan, but also strange and macabre acts of violence that don’t have any obvious motivation.

Moreover, Singh and his deputy (a nice comic turn from Satish Kaushik) are nettled by the sudden appearance of a mysterious stranger, who calls himself Siddharth, played by Harshvardhan Kapoor, son of Anil. Apparently, Siddharth is a dealer in antiquities; however, Singh suspects that he is one of the drug runners, concealing narcotics in these fake and supposedly priceless objects. Yet the truth is stranger still, and involves Siddharth’s relationship with a lonely and beautiful woman, played by Fatima Sana Shaikh.

This is a stomach-turningly violent movie, and Inspector Singh isn’t above using beatings to get answers to his questions. There is a very impressive action sequence involving a Land Rover flying through the air. In the end, I felt the explanation for the violence was a little glib, but this is a film made with gusto and style.

• Thar is released on 6 May on Netflix.