Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review of Saala Khadoos

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Cast: R Madhavan (Adi Tomar), Ritika Singh (Madhi), Mumtaz Sorcar (Laxmi), Nassar (Pandian), Zakir Hussain (Dev Khatri), Kaali Venkat & Baljinder Kaur (Madhi and Laxmi’s parents)
Direction: Sudha Kongara
Produced by: S Shashikanth, R Madhavan, Rajkumar Hirani
Written by: Sudha Kongara, Sunanda Raghunathan
Screenplay by: Sudha Kongara
Story by: Sudha Kongara
Music: Santosh Narayanan
Cinematography: Sivakumar Vijayan
Edited by: Sathish Suriya
Production Company: Y Not Studios, UTV Motion Pictures
Distributed by: Rajumar Hirani Films, Tricolour Films
Release Date: 29th January, 2016
Duration: 1 hour 49 minutes
Language: Hindi

Saala Khadoos, a film by Sudha Kongara, explores the Mentor-Mentee relationship and the background chosen to share the story is that of boxing. This film releases simultaneously in Hindi and Tamil (Irudhi Suttru). It is inspired from many true events existing in the field of sports in our country. Sudha is good at her craft, she infuses realism into the film. The film projects the irregularities happening in the sports council, selecting sports personnel for various competitions on the basis of whims and fancies of influential selectors, selectors’ asking for favours from the female sports personnel etc. One thing which I felt was the characters could have been explored much more deeply. In Mary Kom, the background was same i.e. boxing, where the characters and their relationships, be it Mary Kom’s relationship with her mentor, or husband or father all was explored deeply. In Chak De, coach Kabir Khan’s relationships with his coachee were projected beautifully. Another film Bhag Milkha Bhag had lot of depth. Be it Mary Kom, Chak De or Bhag Milkha Bhag, tragedy and triumphs did spark an emotional deluge which was missing in Saala Khadoos (except the last scene and a few other scenes). In spite of this, the film has its own moments. 

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The film begins with a scene in the boxing ring and Adi Tomar (R Madhavan) is being pushed out of the stadium. And then the story moves to the flash back – prior to nine months time frame. Adi is shown as an eccentric, arrogant and aggressive boxing coach. He does not shy away from admitting that his wife eloped with a boxer and so he also sleeps with other women. But as far as his profession as boxing is concerned, he is highly ethical and talented and coaches his students very efficiently. His conflict with Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain) is very much evident, who was at one point of time Adi’s coach. The animosity between the two is because, Dev spiked Adi’s gloves during a very important match, which costed Adi his boxing career. Later on, when he became the coach of women boxers, his conflicts went on with Dev who had become the main selector. Dev is so shrewd that he doesn’t even mind framing Adi in false sexual harassment cases. Adi is no way shown to be just tolerating all injustice towards him. Ultimately he is transferred to Chennai. Adi is shown to be sarcastic, grumpy, irritated when he gets to see the group of female boxers of Chennai. He had already done his research on the boxers and their background. That is where, Madhi (Ritika Singh) enters into the scene along with her sister Laxmi aka Lax (Mumtaz Sorcar). Laxmi is to fight in that local boxing match. In spite of Laxmi fighting well, when the judges declared her opponent as winner, Madhi could not tolerate and she picks up verbal spat as well as physical fight with the judges. Adi, who was unable to see the passion and fire in rest of the boxers, could see lot of fire in Madhi. That is how Adi decides to be a mentor to Madhi.

Madhi is also a very eccentric and outspoken girl, belongs to a poor family, lives in the slums of Chennai and sells fishes to earn living for family. Her sister Laxmi aspires to join the Police department in sports quota and that is her inspiration to be a boxer.

It was not easy for Adi to convince Madhi to take training for boxing, rather he had to pay Rs. 500/ per day to Madhi for training her. There the journey of a mentor-mentee begins, rather an unconventional combination, both being aggressive. There are lot of clashes between the two.

Although the story is predictable, it is interesting to see how the events unfold. How did the relationship between Adi and Madhi shape up? Does the conviction of Adi about Madhi prove right ? How does Laxmi respond to the fact that her sister Madhi is a much better boxer than her? Does Dev sit back idle even after transferring Adi to Chennai or he starts another game? What efforts Dev take to malign the attempt of Adi to train Madhi to be a great boxer ? What happens in the end? Does the love of sport dominate at the end?

Madhavan has definitely portrayed Adi very well. Media reports say that he took special training for this film and also lost / gained weight for his role’s sake. He is able to break his chocolate, well- mannered gentleman image, since in this film, he is actually khadoos. His appearance completely justifies his character. Ritika as Madhi has also given a great performance. She is a professional kick boxer and also a mixed martial artist. She demonstrated the combination of sports personnel and an artist. Zakir Hussain as Dev Khatri is indeed good. Nassar as always has slipped into his character of Pandian, junior coach, effortlessly. Mumtaz Sorcar, though has a smaller role, has done well. Rest of the cast has also given good performances.

Saala Khadoos reiterates a strong message, which is to keep politics away from the sports field. It is also an unconventional take on mentor-mentee relationship. The last scene is indeed a knockout scene.
Rating: 3 /5 (Good)