Whatever the producers may say we all know that this is a biopic on Mohd. Azharuddin. He is one of the most successful captains of the Indian Cricket team. We also know the story of his rise and fall from glory. What this film attempts is something beyond my comprehension. The makers have exonerated the man and while leaving the theater (if you go there at the first place) you will think “Kitna Galat Hua Bechare ke saath”.
Azhar’s story is told from Azhar’s point of view. He tells his own story, how he became a cricket player and what actually happened when he was allegedly fixing the matches, how and why he left his first wife Naureen for a model and actress Sangeeta. He does everything that is wrong in the broad world view but as he himself is telling the story, he justifies everything. It seems obvious after watching the film that writer Rajat Arora before writing the story went to Mohd. Azharuddin and asked him, “sir what do you want me to write?” Azhar told him what he wants and then Rajat wrote some one_liners in his usual style and made a 2-hour long screenplay. One-liners were good for The Dirty Picture but here they seem misplaced. Instead of packing the movie with some punches they irritate. Azhar at one point says , “Kal Koi Goli Maar dega. Marne ka Darr Nahin Mujhe.” Arre kyon Bhai? Aapko Marne ka Darr Kyon Nahin? You are not a soldier, you are a player. When his friend and lawyer Reddy asks, “Kiska Phone Tha?” he replies, “Wahi Jiski Khamoshi Bhi Main Pehchan leta hoon.” Kaun aise baat Karta hai yaar? Sidha Sidha Javab Nahin de sakta tha? You know it irritates. Really. These “trying hard to be smart” one-liners serve no purpose. The story moves between the present and the flashbacks and that is done smartly. I don’t want to say this but the director, Anthony D’Souza , has a clear agenda here. The focus is not on cricket or the glamor industry or even corruption in cricket. His only focus is to portray Azhar as an innocent and great man who is wronged by god knows who and why. The screenplay relies solely on the dialogues and the writers forget to research on the actual case that Mohd. Azharuddin fought for so many years. The courtroom scenes are ridiculously foolish.
Coming to the performances, Nargis Fakhri looks dumber than even Sangeeta Bijlani. Her acting is so bad that Prachi Desai looks like Meryl Streep in front of her. The supporting cast has nothing to do here and only the guy playing Manoj (they have omitted Prabhakar) seems kind of funny. Lara Dutta and Kunal Roy Kapoor are OK. So, now we are left with Emraan Hashmi and trust me he is great in this otherwise below average movie. He has the screen presence and acts even better. I felt bad not for the real Azhar but for Emraan, he deserves a better script. And Mohd. Azharuddin has to say special thanks to him because it is his honest performance that evokes sympathy for the real Azhar. The music goes unnoticed except the remixed ‘Oye Oye’.
I have often said that I don’t know what they mean when some film critics say ‘the film has its heart in the right place’, but this time I am pretty sure that this film does not have its heart in the right place. It’s only a campaign for Mohd. Azharuddin to bring him out of the bad light but I don’t understand why so late.