True Review Movie - Hindi - Saala Khadoosby Niharika Puri January 30 2016, 11:00 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 3 secs
Cast: R. Madhwan, Ritika Singh, MumtazSorcar
Direction: Sudhakongara Prasad
Produced: Rajkumar Hirani, Siddhant Roy Kapoor
Written: Sudha Kongara
Duration: 150 Mins
You know it is an underdog story. The contender will triumph against all odds. Government officials will get their just desserts (and what desserts they are for a particularly slimy one in the climax). The simmering, tough-talking coach will have a quiet smile of pride. Mary Kom was a heavily fictionalised sports drama in this zone. Saala Khadoos follows close behind Creed, which possessed every single element of the underdog story but had nostalgia going for it.
The film, also known as Irudhi Suttru in its Tamil release, follows Adi Tomar (R. Madhavan), who is not above sleeping with his married househelp but is certainly not someone who will trifle with his trainees in boxing. He is outraged by an anonymous letter accusing him of sexual harassment. It may well be the machinations of the national coach Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain) but as is the case with little men on big chairs, the corruption stands unabated and the athletes are exploited.
Adi is shoved off to Chennai as a punishment posting and welcomed by Pandian (Nassar), the junior coach of the training academy (or whatever stands of it sans proper infrastructure). Pandian has organised a welcome for Adi with posters, featuring the senior coach in a lion's mane and a superman outfit. Adi will have none of it. He is here to train, though in a quick assessment realises that none are worth his time. Not even Luxmi (Mumtaz Sorcar), who is only here to join the police force via the sports quota.
It is Luxmi's sister, Madhi (Ritika Singh), who has the fire and only needs to acquire the discipline. Adi sees in her the champion worth fighting for and often, the champion necessary to fight with, in order to earn her respect. It is a task tantamount to breaking a horse or taming a bull. Between these fiery clashes stands Pandian, as the mild-mannered witness.
The junior coach is the still shore to Adi's raging waves, which is evident in the scene where Adi insults him after Madhi's failed boxing match. Adi spews his rage, implying to Pandian that nobody here is worth shit. Pandian replies that may be the case but the stench emanates from him (Adi). It is a line delivered with a sad half-smile and without Adi's mercurial temper. Yet, it has powerful resonance.
The saga of ups and downs continues with Dev finding a way to stymie the to-be champion and her unruly coach until she tops the rankings and wins. What's a good sports drama without a victory? And also with a lot of personal demons to tackle... or even siblings. Saala Khadoos is as much a young woman's journey to making it to the top as it is about sibling rivalry as a crucial plotline. Luxmi's breakdown as she confronts Adi on preferring one sister over the other is a powerful scene. Mumtaz Sorcar has the screen presence that complements debutante and mixed martial artist Ritika Singh, who brings a livewire energy few screen outings have.
Saala Khadoos is based on several true stories and is a tribute to the women who won gold for India in the 2006 Women's World Amateur Boxing Championships. It is disappointing that a film of this calibre does not find favour over Mastizaade at the box office. The trend might reverse over the weekend. Irudhi Suttru, the Tamil version, might fare better. The trailer definitely had a cool edge to it.
Show some love to this khadoos. It could be the weekend knock-out you are looking for.