It’s not the first time a Hindi film remake has diluted the spirit and intent of the original material. It’s not the first time that a male lead has paraded his pectorals in lieu of acting skills. And it’s certainly not the first time that a secondary actor has taken over the show simply because he is played by a movie star.

Mahesh Manjrekar’s Antim: The Final Truth is a Bollywoodised remake of the Marathi hit Mulshi Pattern. The original movie explores the plight of farmers bullied into selling their land to developers and forced to migrate to cities, where some of them become menial workers while others turn into criminals.

Mulshi Pattern (available on Zee5), whose chief theme is about the cyclical nature of violence, itself belongs to a long list of urban crime dramas, from Deewar to Lalbaug Parel via Vaastav and the Brazilian movie City of God.

Antim takes Mulshi Pattern’s broad plot points to create a second launchpad for Aayush Sharma. Best known as Salman Khan’s brother-in-law, Sharma made a forgettable debut in Loveyatri in 2018, the same year that Mulshi Pattern was released. In Antim, Sharma has a new look – bronzed make-up, kohl-lined eyes, a beefed-up body – and renewed purpose as Rahul, a farmer’s son who becomes an enforcer in Pune.

Rahul’s daring impresses the gangster Nanya (Upendra Limaye) and wins him the affection of tea seller Manda (Mahima Makwana), but alienates his principled father (Sachin Khedekar) and attracts the attention of police officer Rajveer Singh. Since Rajveer is played by Salman Khan, a relatively minor character gets promoted to equal hero status. Rajveer comes up with a plan to checkmate Rajveer’s rise – a convenient excuse to ensure that both brothers-in-law drop their shirts and flex their muscles.

More attention has been paid to the action scenes and showcasing of the leads than in previous Salman Khan productions. That’s hardly enough. Antim clinically lays out its assembly of moments and leaps from one important plot development to the next, but the emotional undertow and layering of a routine crime movie with social messaging is largely absent. Few traces of the original pattern survive in this remake, leaving only Aayush Sharma’s glower and Salman Khan’s whistle-inducing antics.

Antim: The Final Truth (2021).