Azhar : Movie Review
Before reviewing Azhar, it’s important to understand what a biopic means and how Bollywood has misunderstood it:
A biopic is a cinematic adaptation of various events of a non- fictional personality (living or dead) dramatizing (to some extent) crucial aspects of his/her life.
Read: Baaghi Movie Review
Unfortunately, Bollywood mistakes biopic to be a cinematic “glorification” of a real life person to such an extent that it turns him/ her in to a superhero of sorts. It worked fine with ‘Neerja’ whose story itself, was heroic. But when you do that to a controversial figure like Mohammad Azharruddin, it ends up looking fake. Truly, the climatic revelation of why Azhar fixed those three international matches of his otherwise illustrious career takes away all the good the movie built up to right till then….
A long disclaimer read out in the start tells you that the movie is not a biopic but an adaptation of Mohammad Azharuddin‘s life for entertainment purposes. Wow! I wish they had also stated that it will end up making him in to a messiah of sorts while tarnishing his fellow players including Ravi Shastri and the legendary Kapil Dev.
Anyways, the film covers all the major events of the former Indian captain’s life – from his childhood when his Nanajaan (Kulbhushan Kharbanda, endearing) motivates him to vent his anger through the cricket bat rather than words, his still unbeaten back to back three centuries on debut, his handling of resentful senior players on being suddenly elevated to captaincy position as well as his personal life – initially blissful with his first wife Naureen (Prachi Desai) and his subsequent affair with bollywood actress Sangeeta Bijlani (Nargis Fakhri).
Presented in non linear format, the narrative flows well and certain scenes like Azhar talking cricket lingo in his awkward first meeting with Naureen and his ad shoot with Sangeeta which is the germinating point for their affair are well executed.
On the other hand, certain questions like how did Azhar learn his trademark flick shot, what made him the outstanding fielder he was, how did he handle the tremendous success he got as a captain before the match fixing allegations struck him are unexplored. I wish director Tony D’Souza had touched upon these aspects.
Even the match fixing scandal is fleetingly passed with one scene where the bookie (Rajesh Sharma) is introduced to Azhar in the dressing room and a few scenes later, a deal is struck between the two of them.
On the film’s positive is Emraan Hashmi knocking it out of the stadium with a solid performance. He doesn’t physically resemble Azhar but gets the cricketers mannerisms and body language spot on. Maturing as an actor with every film of his, Emraan has come a long way from his serial kisser days. Of course, he gets his lip lock in Azhar as well but now, the guy can act like never before…
The supporting cast is a mixed bag. Rajesh Sharma is convincing as the bookie. Prachi Desai is okey dokey. Nargis Fakhri still can’t act and here, she doesn’t even try. Azhar’s fellow mates (Shastri, Siddhu, Kapil, Manoj Prabhakar) are too one dimensional and caricatured to leave a mark.
On the tech front, editing appears flawed with an entire scene repeated for no rhyme or reason. The two romantic numbers are soulful but the Oye Oye song is poorly recreated.
Overall, Azhar works better as an entertainer than a biopic. It’s desperate attempt to make him a messiah is its undoing. One time watch, nevertheless!