Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 29th January, 2016
Time : 109 minutes
Director, Writer: Sudha Kongara; Music : Santhosh Narayanan
Starring : Madhavan, Ritika Singh, Nasser, Zakir Hussain, Mumtaz Sorcar
(simultaneously made and released in Tamil as Irudhi Suttru)
Sports movies usually suffer from a serious predictability issue. This one doubly so, somehow things happen too easily. The characters drawn are also pretty uni-dimensional – the good guys are always good and the baddies remain consistently bad, with no redeeming features. What keeps it going are some very good performances (Madhavan, Ritika, Zakir, Nasser) and the fact that the heart is in the right place – after all, as Madhavan points out early in the film, if the Sports Federations are removed from the equation, India will probably find champions in every galli-mohalla.
Madhavan is a disgruntled, ex-boxer, betrayed by his coach, Zakir Hussain, but the latter now calls the shots as National Head Coach for women boxing, with the former sullenly reporting to him. After yet another tiff, Madhavan is shunted out to Chennai, the worst ranking state for women boxers and there he meets the angry, fiery, spit-fire Ritika. She sells fish, is the younger sister of another boxer (Mumtaz) but Madhavan spots the talent in her and persuades her to train. First by giving her money, then other means. With both being permanently on simmer, the rest of the movie is mostly about either one boiling over on trivial matters – with Nasser, junior coach, trying to smooth things over. And then, when all finally seems to be going smoothly, others step in to spoil the fun, including but not the only one, Zakir Hussain…
If you’ve seen any sport film before, you’ll know how things are going to pan out – nothing really surprises. There are some fun moments in the first half, especially with the unorthodox style and celebrations of the gauche Ritika. The stars act well, doing the job assigned to them, making their characters believable. The songs are good but have an unmistakable southern feel to them. Things just fall in place for our underdogs too easily (too much is made of the lowly roots too often), too smoothly – in typical Hindi / Tamil film style.
To overcome the predictability, sports films usually need to have another, strong, parallel storyline to keep the viewers engaged – showing the Sports Federation as the bad guys though, is hardly novel, given our abysmal success rate in most sports. On a separate note, wouldn’t it be great if the Lodha Committee recommendations (to know more, click here) could be applied to all sporting bodies in the country ?