Thank God, based on writer-director Anders Matheson’s 2009 Danish film Sorte Kugler, is adapted by Aakash Kaushik and Madhur Sharma. But more pertinent is that the director is Indra Kumar, who has championed lowbrow musical comedies like Dil, Masti and Dhamaal.
Sidharth Malhotra plays Ayaan Kapoor, a short-tempered and slightly imbecilic real estate tycoon whose corrupt ways get their comeuppance with demonetisation. Six years later, deeply in debt, he’s impatient to sell his plush home but his temper, desperation, ego and bad judgement send him spiralling. Even the kindly ways of his police officer wife, Ruhi (Rakul Preet Singh), and their little daughter cannot distract him from his self-made situation.
After avoiding one swerving vehicle, Ayaan crashes into a car. The accident lands him in an operating theatre, where his consciousness and soul are suspended between life and death. It’s judgement day for Ayaan, who awakes in a giant spaceship-like gameshow arena, presided over by YD, or Yamdoot (Mahesh Balraj), and CG, or Chitragupt (Ajay Devgn). Ayaan’s ascent to heaven or descent to hell is dependent on how he fares in the ‘Game of Life’. Considering Devgn is called CG, some attention to the tacky visual effects would have helped.
Ayaan’s sins (including lust, greed, anger, jealousy) are being weighed up against his good deeds (few). The CG-hosted game, where the apsaras and mythological characters no longer dress for a Doordarshan audience but for “an Amazon Prime audience”, cuts away to incidents in Ayaan’s life. For the real-life audience, not the computer-graphics created ones in the arena, the game gets repetitive and interest in the outcome drains out as fast as the black balls hurled at Ayaan signal his fate.
Devgn embraces the swag, styling and playfulness of CG. Rakul Preet Singh adds a dose of energy in a sketchy supporting role. Malhotra's casting only convinces us of his character's lifeless state. His unease and lack of connection with his character shows in every scene.
An item number is interjected here, a ballad is thrown in there, subplots about a ruined family home and a mistreated mother (Seema Pahwa) are outdated and overdramatic. Barring a couple of the tests, including brahm (disillusionment) and bribery (to earn god’s favour), the comedy is sparse and the storytelling comatose. The narrative plods along to conclude with the expected redemption story.
There was a really good idea in Thank God’, but if assessed as a family entertainer, on the grounds of film-making, production and performances, this one is dead on arrival.