True Review

True Review Movie - Azhar

True Review Movie - Azhar

by Niharika Puri May 15 2016, 6:48 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 56 secs

Cast: Emraan hashmi, nargis fakhri, prachi desai, lara dutta, kunal roy kapoor.

Direction: Tony D’Souza

Produced: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Sony Pictures India

Written: Rajat Aroraa

Genre: Sports Biography

Duration: 130 minutes

The film issues a disclaimer at the very outset regarding its fictitious nature. Any resemblance to the real lives of the characters involved is coincidental. With this caveat before the biopic of a controversial cricket captain, you would expect the fictional aspect of it to be engaging or sumptuous enough to sink your teeth into. However, where entertaining biopics are concerned, Azhar does not match up to the visual and the entertainment triad of The Dirty Picture.

We begin with Azhar's (Emraan Hashmi) childhood in Hyderabad where his well-meaning but seriously pushy grandfather, Nanujaan, (Khulbhushan Kharbanda in a cameo) thrusts a cricket bat into his hands and urges him to play a 100 test matches. It is almost as if Nanujaan sat with the film's writers and goaded the protagonist into the only direction that could get the biopic rolling.

Azhar makes his debut in 1983 in Bombay's West Zone vs South Zone despite the personal setback of his grandfather's death. Just when he is underperforming, Azhar remembers his ubiquitous Nanujaan who gives him a deus ex machina-level reminder that he needs to play a 100 test matches. In the spirit of a WWE wrestler who nearly loses a match, only to pin his opponent the moment in a flash of aggression, Azhar smashes the ball out of the field and his way into the team.

The cricket matches are never milked for the sports biopic. In fact, the real battle happens in the courtroom where Azhar battles the match-fixing allegations against him with his lawyer friend Reddy (an outlandish Kunaal Roy Kapur). Meera Verma (Lara Dutta) is a formidable opponent, burning with self-righteous rage and more than happy to prosecute the cricketer she once hero-worshipped. The case moves at an uninteresting pace with unneeded belligerence and a comic track that undermines the gravitas of the case completely.

The flashbacks and cuts to the present day are not seamless. It does not help that the characters defy age even if the film explores almost two decades of their lives. Only Reddy ages and not gracefully either. The matches are not exciting enough (Azhar's entry guarantees victory), the courtroom drama is not compelling either. Azhar does not redeem itself in the romantic tracks either.

The track with Naureen (Prachi Desai), his first wife, has moments of perfunctory coyness but does not explore the cracks in their marriage which led to him begin an extramarital affair with Bollywood star Sangeeta (Nargis Fakhri). Azhar and Naureen watch a film of hers in what seems to be a multiplex than the single screen halls of that time. Their affair is given little time to blossom into a fiery romance. It is simply rushed through.

That is the problem with Azhar. It introduces numerous tracks yet does justice to none. The film races through the interesting bits and pauses during the courtroom sequences, which eventually culminates in the arguing lawyer testifying as witness. Bizarre stuff that.

Azhar serves as a cinematic exercise in exonerating the titular character from all blame while ghosting past his affairs and turbulent interactions with his team members (no surnames of the illustrious members mentioned). It whitewashes the hero instead of being an unapologetic portrayal of a man besieged with controversies. Come for the thrills, leave without them. Azhar is an opportunity lost for a riveting sports drama.

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