Sunday, February 07, 2010



If just production design made a film, Chandan Arora’s Striker would have been a winner. The film goes into the dank distant suburbs of Mumbai of the 70s to early 90s, where films usually don’t descend. Malwani is now a swanky area with valuable real estate, but back when Arora’s story starts, it was the back of beyond.

Gangster Jaleel (Aditya Pancholi) runs gambling dens, and a lot of betting is done on games of carrom, at which poor boy Surya (Siddharth) is a champ. The film moves back and forth in time from 1977 to the 1992 riots, and follows the ups and downs in the life of Surya and his buddy Zaid (Ankur Vikal).

This business of getting into the circle of gangs and the hurdles that arise in the way of a hard-working and basically honest guy, has been seen before. Audiences may not have been inside the carrom dens, but then it is not a very visually exciting game. After a point, it becomes tough to drum up any enthusiasm for the cat-and-mouse confrontations between Jaleel and Surya.

Surya is spectacularly unlucky—whether it is a Dubai dream going sour, or his pocket being picked—and the carom matches seem to be the only way out. But no matter how well shot and earnest the story telling is, Striker is a boring watch, and carrom as a metaphor for Surya’s life is a bit too obvious. Odd subplots about his family and his love life leave no impact. And finally telling the view that gangsters engineer communal riots is no great expose. Anupam Kher turns up as the honest Muslim cop, doing nothing much, really.

Siddharth even with his ordinary looks has magnetic screen presence, but is consistently upstaged by Ankur Vikal playing the more colourful character.


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