Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Azhar – Gateposts to a life

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Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desia, Nargis Fakhri, Kunal Roy Kapoor, Gautam Gulati, Shernaz Patel, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Director: Anthony(Tony) D’souza

Rating: * *


Runtime: 137 mins

The story of a fallen hero is given a formulaic makeover in this ludicrous and unaccomplished quasi biopic on Mohammad Azharuddin, cricketing great who through his international cricketing successes , controversial detours on the personal front and king sized lifestyle sponsored by corrupt practices , saw himself ostracized and reviled for a long period of time. This film in fact makes out a jingoistic case for cinema referenced infamy.

The prime source for this fodder are news stories and tabloid grist. The script doesn’t appear to have had any inputs from any other source so what you see on screen is a representation based entirely on hearsay and bias. And it comes onscreen in a bombastic expression that appears reminiscent of Balaji’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai.’ Unfortunately the treatment here is devoid of style, depth or power.

In the opening frames itself Azar (Emraan Hashmi) declares that his life was defined by three main things. His three debut hundreds at Lord’s, his two wives and the financial scandal that truncated his flourishing career. The film stays true to that entirely. We are first made privy to his grandfather (Kulbhushan Kharbanda)’s ambitions for him. He dreams of his shy, tongue-tied grandson making his bat talk while completing a hundred tests. Sure enough that’s what Azhar sets out to do. After scoring his three centuries  Azhar is nudged into matrimony with Noreen (Prachi Desai) and after a brief spell of romance with her veers off into a relationship with a model (Nargis Fakhri). Then Manoj Prabhakar’s sting operation nets the big fish bookie Sharma who in turn, under duress reveals all his cricketing connections to the authorities. Mira (Lara Dutta) once a fan of Azhar, takes on the prosecutions case while Azhar’s childhood friend Reddy (Kunal Roy Kapoor) is entrusted with his defence.

That’s the gist of the story then. Unfortunately the manner in which it is put across on screen is entirely confusing. The timeline shifts back and forth in it’s attempt to derive complexity. But the hasty shifts don’t reveal anything new or interesting. There is no depth to the storyline and the entire set-up is weak and hackneyed. The dialogues sound pompous and bombastic, the performances are unrealistic and the narrative gets bogged down by it’s own central conceit.

The disclaimer in the opening credits, in fact, says it all. The makers claim that this is not a biopic and everything that is shown on screen is entirely fictional drawn from newspaper reports and dressing room gossip. They probably did not want to get waylaid by defamation suits by the cricketers and other sources mentioned in the film. So the loud, unbecoming treatment , the admittedly fictitious set-up, the inept performances and the irreverent inferences add-up to a lousy experience that is bound to be skimmed off the theatres in record time.