The right to sex is a much debated topic online these days. The youth are supporting it wholeheartedly. But what about the right to sex for the elders. We don’t expect our senior citizens to have a sex life. That’s especially true for people over 60. They’re expected to be monks and nuns spending their days in spiritual pursuits. Their sexuality is supposed to be dead by then. Most suppress their sexual needs for the fear of being marked as perverts by their own family. This fear sometimes leads them to lead double lives. We’ve so much normalized the fact that the elders aren’t expected to be sexually active that people are afraid even to talk about it.
Thai Massage tackles all these questions and more. It’s the story of a 70 year old widower who has started suffering from erectile dysfunction. He wants to experience sex one more time before he loses the ability completely, so to speak.
Atmaram Dubey (Gajraj Rao) is a retired, much-loved, much-respected patriarch living in Ujjain, whose family has gathered at the family home to celebrate his 70th birthday. In the middle of the festivities, the family gets a rude revelation that he not only has a passport, he had recently gone on a secret Bangkok vacation as well. The film then unspools in flashback as Atmaram shares his misadventures with his elder son (Sunny Hinduja). Beset by the onset of erectile dysfunction, Atmaram is hugely depressed. He’s saved from suicide by Santulan (Dibyendu Sharma), who instigates him to give life another chance. He takes Atmaram to an 85 year old pehlwan, who has a sureshot cure for the malady. He even arranges for a prostitute for his ‘old’ friend. When Atmaram chickens out of the arrangement, he even arranges for a passport and ticket to Bangkok for Atmaram to have a boom-boom time. There, a friendly Indian-origin taxi driver (Anil Charanjeett) guides him towards having a good time without getting duped. But Atmaram just can’t have meaningless sex. A chance encounter with a Russian travel blogger (Alina Zasobina) changes things. She takes him around town and even takes him to the famous Khao Sok lake where the two bond and end up having sex. She’s attracted to his innocence, his naivete and though young in years, is shown to be an old soul. The complete story helps him find closure with his family.
The film is saying all the right things but in a haphazard way. Why an old widower who hasn’t seen action in the last 22 years suddenly becoming interested in sex isn’t made clear. Why is he worried about erectile dysfunction at his age when he’s a widower in the first place? How is he able to arrange for a passport and most importantly, the money for ticket and stay in Bangkok too isn’t clear. The comedy angle involving Rajpal Yadav becomes a study in domestic violence, something we shouldn’t be laughing at. The film unfolds at a lethargic pace and the second half especially needed to be better paced.
Gajraj Rao has given his all to Thai Massage and his ‘innocent abroad’ act is the film’s saving grace. He’s ably supported by Alina Zasobina, Dibyendu Sharma, Anil Charanjeet and Sunny Hinduja. Watch the film for its message. It’s a clean sex comedy that’ll definitely make you smile in places.
Trailer : Thai Massage
Dhaval Roy, November 10, 2022, 11:52 PM IST
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 realizes 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 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 neighbor 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 way.
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 traveler. While you may enjoy it intermittently, overall, the movie is underwhelming.