Director: Tony D’Souza
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Nargis Fakhri, Prachi Desai
‘Azhar’ poster. Pic/Santa Banta
‘Azhar’ is clearly made as an attempt at redemption for the tainted cricketer and India’s ex-captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Unfortunately, you walk out of the theatre with no emotions, no sympathy, except for remorse at having wasted another two hours of your life on a strictly mediocre film.
It is sad because Tony D’Souza, the director of ‘Azhar’ biopic (or is it not as the long disclaimer at the beginning of the film tries to tell us in no uncertain terms) is supposedly talking about the tumultuous and adventurous life of one of the finest cricketers that the country has seen and all we remember now is how shockingly tacky any subject in hand, however interesting, can be turned into.
As most of us in this cricket loving nation would know, Azharuddin was a revered cricketer and the captain of Indian team, before he was banned from playing after he was accused of being part of a match fixing scandal in 2000. The film mainly focuses on his journey and struggle after the ban till eight years later he was given the clean chit, due to lack of evidence. If his alleged involvement in the scandal hugely disappointed his fans, this movie is only going to disappoint them further. Narrating a tale of this kind of a upheaval in a cricketing genius’ life requires a lot of research, thought and of course, a clear vision. Lacking in all three, the direction, the script and even the dialogues just about skim the surface, refusing to take pains to go any deeper or even invest any time and energy in showing some real on ground cricket.
In what could be one of the worst cases of casting, the director doesn’t seem to have even bothered to waste any thought over the peripheral characters around Azhar. While they are happily named after the real cricketers of that time, Manoj, Ravi, Sachin, Kapil, Anil etc., not one actor looked like the original players of that time.
Emraan Hashmi as Azharuddin has a tough task at hand, as his body type is entirely different from the real character that he’s playing. However, Emraan plays it with so much sincerity that at times he is the only one who seems to make any sense in this forgettable movie. Full points to him for admirably aping the stylish gait that Azhar was popular for. Then there is Prachi Desai playing Azhar’s jilted first wife Naureen. She looks beautiful and vulnerable as her character is expected to be. Nargis Fakhri, who plays Azhar’s second wife actress Sangeeta Bijlani, makes no attempt at acting or whatsoever and walks through her part in a daze.
The courtroom drama in the second half is almost unbearable with Lara Dutta as a prosecutor lawyer screeching her way till the end with Rajat Arora’s bordering on nonsense rhyming dialogues and, of course, a feeble attempt at trying to attribute Azhar’s deed (or misdeed?) to patriotism.