Probably for the first time, Bollywood has produced a mainstream cricket-based biopic. Azhar who has been out of the limelight for a decade for now is now all over the promotions in the name of the movie ‘Azhar’. The trailer hinted that it could to be a manipulative piece of work adorned with forced punch lines of Rajat Arora. Fortunately, it did not turn out that way. Azhar has an interesting screenplay which helps tremendously in making the film never lose its grip.
The movie begins with Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) being charged as match-fixer. He then appoints his old friend Mr.Reddy (Kunal Roy Kapoor), a not-so-popular lawyer. The movie sticks to the match fixing case, and spends most of the time to the events, persons, situations and circumstances relevant to it without any diversion at all. The movie has a non-linear screenplay throughout. The film shows various episodes of his encounters within the team, with the girl-friend and his silence with wife. One thread carries his case proceedings and the loneliness, and the other thread succinctly explains some very important events like the matches of 1996, 98 and 99 on the basis of which he was accused.
The best part of the film is the movie doesn’t take his side (at least for most of it). The movie projects him as any ordinary person who can get weak at times, but is strong and well-determined too. No one is black or white. The way the story was presented almost resembled the powerful film Talwar, where it told that perspectives and gossip play a highly superior role than truth. Of course, the film is not superior to Talwar but definitely falls in the list of ‘It’s up to you to decide whether he/she was right/wrong’.
Emraan was partially convincing as Azhar. He couldn’t get the Emraan out of him. Neither the body language, neither the mannerism, neither the language, none of them really matched Mr. Mohammed Azharuddin. A better lead would have taken the movie to a whole new level. Apart from that, with very limited expressions and reactions, he could hardly convey what was going in Azhar’s mind in many of the scenes. However since the movie is backed by a strong writing and a wise screenplay, the acting drawback couldn’t affect the movie much. Kunal Roy Kapoor seemed to over-act but was entertaining in some scenes, especially his “Gaur se suniye” dialogues in the court scene. Lara Dutta was very impressive. Prachi Desai was the perfect choice as the wife and she get the sympathy within no time. Nargis was brief and hugely disappointing.
Music by Amaal Malik was in sync with the movie, and editor of the film needs to be commended for making the cuts at the right time and kept the film very smooth. Director Tony D’Souza shall be appreciated for packaging the film rightly. The penultimate 20 minutes were as nail-biting as a crucial match.
All in all, Azhar is a well-made biopic which doesn’t glorify its hero too much but glorifies the judgements , on-court and off-court.