Cast: Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Nikita Dutta, Amit Sadh, Sunny Kaushal, Vineet Kumar Singh, Kunal Kapoor
Director: Reema Kagti
Rating: * * ½
Revising history with a fictitious conceit, ‘Gold’ aims to expand the Akshay Kumar brand reach to territories that haven’t given him much of a run at their Box Office, yet. So, after failing to rise to the occasion in films like ‘Airlift’ and ‘Padman’ (where he portrayed real-life South Indian heroes as reel life North Indians), AK steps gingerly out of his secure cocoon to essay a fictitious Bengali character, Tapan Das, who as per director Reema Kagti’s lesson in fake history, was instrumental in stitching together a winning team for partition traumatised India, at the Summer Olympics Hockey Competition in 1948, London.
The film begins in 1936 when the British Indian team won the gold defeating Germany and the Fuhrer was furious, we get it. The rest of it is a build-up to the 1948 Gold. The inaccurate and unauthentic depiction of the constitution of the winning team, names of team members, the contribution of the so-called manager and pre and post partition dynamics in this film makes it all fictional. Thankfully, the filmmakers don’t claim this one to be a true story. This film is largely a pretentious attempt to drum up pop-patriotism.
Guru Dutt Sondhi, a hockey stalwart of International repute, born in Lahore to a Punjabi Khatri family was the de-facto manager of the Indian contingent that went to the Olympics in 1948. Now how that real-life character got creatively subsumed into a reel life alcoholic Bengali with no backstory as a player in hockey, end up as Manager, is best known to Ms Kagti and Co. With little or no established research and no real facts to back it, the story itself sounds unconvincing.
The team is shown to have resided in a Buddhist monastery for training – with alcohol and romance making its presence felt even there. It seems like the one-note script underwent several revisions just so the lead character could be rewritten to suit the star’s abilities or lack of it.
Also rumours that Akshay Kumar was originally slated to play a cameo while Kunal Kapoor (as Samrat) was meant to be the main lead gain credence from the manner in which this sports drama plays out on screen. The narrative here appears to forcibly shift from the game to Tapan Das’ struggle with alcoholism and his feeble and largely unworthy attempts to cobble-up a team for the Olympics. The portrayal of the game as it was played then, is unchallenging at best. Aiming for a ‘Jerry McGuire’ sort of dynamic without establishing the worth and talent of the said leader, the writing appears terribly weak and the treatment thereof, largely unexciting. The obvious allusions to patriotic fervor come across as limp, unnecessarily forced, with little rationale other than to appeal to rabid sentimentalists.
The structure and treatment largely follow the by the numbers rote of the patriotic film genre code. The treatment, in fact, appears to have more marketing inputs than creative. In order to appease his Punjabi fans, Akshay Kumar as Tapan Das even breaks out into a Punjabi dance after downing a few doctored pegs. It’s as close to ridiculous as a true story-teller can get. ‘Gold’ is unforgivably preachy in tone and the emotional engagement is entirely flimsy. Akshay Kumar’s on and off Bengali accent and Mouni Roy’s pouty, snappish Monobina Das lend the film brief instances of levity while gritty muscular performances from Kunal Kapoor, Sunny Kaushal and Amit Sadh are largely wasted in this factory produced patriotism feeder that fails to ring true!