Woohoo, what a whitewash job. It’s total corn on the cob, demanding your saltiest teardrop for Mohammad Azharuddin, who was charged with match-fixing and banned from playing cricket by the BCCI, shame shame puppy shame and all that.
Cleared of the ‘unsustainable’ charges by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, he has now been anointed with sainthood in a full-blown movie which seeks to make you go gooey. Sorry but those who have issues with one-sided swachh karo campaigns might just go phooey.
Indeed, Azhar, produced by Ekta Kapoor and directed by Tony D’Souza (perpetrator of the eminently forgettable adventure flick Blue and something called Boss) end up bowling a costly, extended 131-minuter ad film. Instead, they could have hosted a splashy party to confer him with knighthood. Or a serial could have been attempted titled Cricketer Bhi Kabhi Devta Tha. Bad luck, the all-sugar-no-spice hero depicted here, scores a duck in terms of credibility and conviction, signifying nothing more than pulp fiction.
Cross my heart. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Mohammad Azharuddin who played in 99 matches, frequently knocked centuries galore, and captained the Indian team through most of the ‘90s.
It’s just that the transparent endeavour to glorify him as a goody-gumdrops of a guy, grates on the nerves. Moreover, whistle-blower Manoj Prabhakar comes off as a slimeball, Kapil Dev is downgraded as a procrastinator before popping up on TV to exonerate Azhar. And Ravi Shastri’s portrayed as a stud who bed-hops as if he were checking out the mattresses-‘n’-tresses of starlets. Of course, a super-lengthy disclaimer, drones on about how certain events have inspired the film, no offence meant to anyone. Ha ha, are we in the audience, a pack of morons?
A man — any man devoid of weaknesses or an Achilles heel — is as unbelievable as our world being flat as a pancake. So, here’s Saint Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) who seethes big-time on encountering a horrendous bookie (enacted by Vicious Grin). The horror, occasionally glimpsed with a blurry underworld don (Guess Who?), is told to take a walk. Gawk.
By the way, at this juncture, a bagful of a crore of rupees is photographed tantalisingly. Will the saint grab the lolly? Or will the tables be turned at a nail-biting match? The saint has a trick up his sleeve, natch.
Oye oye, the toothpick thin plot also boogies into the saint’s…er…love life. Adores he his wife (Prachi Desai) whom he strives to kiss at home, interrupted constantly by his insanely jabberwocky parents. Aah, no wonder, he slides into a steamy affair with a Bollywood actress (Nargis Fakhri), who bleats, “Don’t, don’t. This is wrong.” Ding dong.
Danger ahead: the lusty liaison’s exposed by a magazine called Famedust. Ergo, the saint in the manner of those bygone ‘ek hi bhool’ chauvinists, apologises to his biwi. Meanwhile, Ma’am Bollywood transforms into a Roti Soorat, weeping out a river of glycerine. The effect is more tee hee than sob sob.
Yet another section of this Saintuddin saga’s located in a Hyderabad courtroom which is more spic-and-span than the Buckingham Palace. For eight years, the cricketer’s lawyer buddy (Kunaal Roy Kapur, hamming to the hilt), is absurdly preoccupied with combing his vanishing hairline. As for the opposing legal eagle (Lara Dutta, okey dokey), she’s hell-bent on demolishing our Azhar bhai. Never mind, if she was the cricketer’s fanatic fan, once. “Fan THI, ab nahin hoon,” she grumps.
The rest of the proceedings can be guessed faster than speed dialling. Outcome: a flossy and far-out biopic which doesn’t tick.
Since Emraan Hashmi’s in the lead, expect the mandatory smooches snatched on the run. To the actor’s credit, he’s watchable, trying to be as close to the real-life cricketer, complete with upturned shirt collars, restrained dialogue pitch and a face which spells retentiveness. Yet, it’s not one of his best: he was far more calibrated in Jannat for instance, in which ironically enough, made for a convincing match-fixer.
As his stoic first wife, Prachi Desai is sufficiently competent. However, Nargis Fakhri as Sangeeta Bijlani, ladles out the worst performance evidenced, so far this year. Flashing her bumble-bee-stung lips, her faux dramatics affirm the fact that she requires elementary acting classes, or quit. As for the ensemble of the Indian cricket players, none of them is close to toting a single run.
Expectedly, the master of bombastic dialogue, Rajat Aroraa, insists on ceaseless punch-lines, the fusillade beginning with, “If you want to jump into a dal-dal, don’t expect to come out clean.” Quite.
The editing is a googly, even repeating a scene featuring the boorish bookie almost in its entirety. Why oh why? The audience doesn’t have to be fed twice with the same castor oil spoon, does it?
In effect, here’s a discomfiting watch. I just about survived. Best of luck to those who venture into this Chak de! Azhar.
Categories: Is the movie worth your buck?