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Thai Massage Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : / 5

Thai Massage Movie Review : Funny and poignant in parts but overall underwhelming

Story: Aatmaram Dubey is a well-respected widower from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, all set to turn 70 in two days. As the family prepares for his grand birthday celebration, they unearth a secret about his escapades in Thailand. Was the trip only for sensual pleasure, or is there more to what meets the eye?

Review: Life can get lonely for the elderly, more so after their spouse passes on. They are often denied pleasures — especially sexual — and expected to lead a quiet life, preferably dedicated to God. Through Aatmaram Dubey (Gajraj Rao), the movie tries to highlight this aspect and that age has nothing to do with longing for sex.

The highly-regarded septuagenarian loses his wife after devoting his life to her for 22 years as she battles paralysis. Lonely and disheartened when he realises he may have erectile dysfunction (ED) and may not be able to indulge in fleshly pleasures, he decides to take his life. But, a young stranger, Santulan (Divyendu), dissuades him, saying he has a solution for every problem. Thus begins a saga of seeking pleasure that brings Aatmaram to Bangkok with Santulan’s help.

The premise may remind one of the veteran actor’s earlier outing, Badhai Ho, where the family thinks it’s unbecoming of senior citizens to have children or sex. Since it’s about physical pleasure, Aatmaram’s actions seem more outrageous in Thai Massage. Highlighting that he’s a principled man, the film also portrays our tendency to equate respectability and abstinence.

Even though the concept and thought are commendable, and director Mangesh Hadawle captures the essence of a sleepy town, Ujjain, and its residents’ mentality skillfully, the film lacks tautness. At more than 122 minutes, the narrative becomes long-drawn and sluggish and is low on the quirk quotient that other movies of this vein have. There are a few funny sequences. Aatmaram’s neighbour catches him watching a porn film as he doesn’t know how to turn the computer off, and his young grandson is blamed for it. His flight journey to Bangkok and the exchange with his co-passenger will also elicit giggles.

The latter half takes the audience to Bangkok, which is depicted beautifully — especially Phuket’s Khao Sok Lake, where Aatmaram travels with a female Russian blogger. The picturesque milieu will make your jaws drop.

Gajraj show once again impresses with his finessed performance in the comic and emotional scenes. Divyendu does a good job, too, but his character is underdeveloped. He neither passes off as a mischiefmaker nor a sensitive guy, and his motive or motivation to help Aatmaram is absurd. Santulan gets the old-timer a passport, a smartphone, and a girl for ‘boom boom’ but says it’s a prank, whereas he seems to be championing the latter. Rajpal Yadav makes a cameo appearance, which is intended to be hilarious, but it falls flat and does not take the story forward in any manner.

Thai Massage has some poignant moments, especially when Aatmaram gives an explanation to his son or reminisces about his young wife and his equation with the Russian traveller. While you may enjoy it intermittently, overall, the movie is underwhelming.

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