Tuesday, May 17, 2016


 Off The Field

In Jannat, based on the cricket match-fixing scandal, Emraan Hashmi played a greedy bookie.. In Tony D’Souza’s Azhar, he jumps over the fence to play the tainted cricketer. The film plays safe with a disclaimer that this is not biopic, which gives the director the freedom to make a ridiculously dramatized version of Mohammad Azharuddin’s life. D’Souza hopes to give Azhar’s side of the story, in case somebody did not follow the long case and its aftermath, but ends up probably embarrassing the poor man.

Using a jumping back and forth in time structure, Azhar quickly covers Emraan’s childhood with a grandpa (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) encouraging his cricketing ambitions, an arranged marriage with Naureen (Prachi Desai in bad make-up), and his rise to fame.

There is the romance with actress Sangeeta (Nargis Fakhri), who is blamed by a fellow cricketer for Azhar’s corruption and fall from grace. He became captain leaving behind resentful senior cricketers, but his success silenced rivals. There are cricketers with recognizable first names, and the backstabber inAzhar’s life is Manoj, who organizes the infamous sting operation that blackened Azhar’s name.

Azhar was accused of taking money from a bookie to throw three matches. Overnight, from being a hero he becomes the most hated, with his effigies being burnt and worse, a ban being imposed on him.

He gets his old friend Reddy (Kunaal Roy Kapoor) to fight his case, against the flinty prosecuting lawyer Meera (Lara Dutta).  Nobody stands by him, and he won’t allow his wives to take the stand. What Reddy presents in the end could have cleared Azhar right off, and, the reason for that money exchange in the dressing room is laughable.

The film is not an inspiring story of a shy man from a conservative family getting a fairy-tale life; it’s not able to capture the most shameful episode in Indian and international (South African Hansie Cronje was involved, so were some Pakistani players) cricket; it cannot convey the tragedy of a wronged man. It a scattershot way it tries to project Azhar as a patriot – loyal to his country and community (the qaum word repeated often).

In real life, Azhar moved on, going into politics and winning an election—obviously people forgot all about his past.

Emraan Hashmi holds the film together, even though no attempt has been made to make him look or sound like Azhar. For cricket fans, the film may be worth a look, for others it leaves too much unsaid to be worthwhile.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker