“Jab desh ke liye medal laaye, to kono nahi puchcha Ab baaghi baan gaaye, to sabbhi puch ne laage” –
This sarcastic comment by the protagonist is so evocative of disrespect shown to many talents in these present times.
The film released in the first half of 2012, and became a major hit – it is a real life tale of a National Award winning athlete, who represented the country in International sports and by a turn of fate was compelled to become a dacoit. This hard hitting film is embellished with a remarkable performance by Irrfan Khan. In the past, Irrfan has wowed us with restraint performance in films like The Namesake and others, but hogging the limelight in this film which revolves entirely around him, he delivers the performance of a lifetime.
The first half of the film which focuses on his sporting career and his family is laced with good charm. The sequences where he sprints and delivers ice cream to his superiors’ residence within four minutes, or his efforts to pack off his children elsewhere to enjoy few moments with his wife (Mahie Gill), or the interactions with his sporting coach (Rajendra Gupta) depicts the human side of the talented sprinter. The other half of the film highlights the circumstances which compelled this simplistic man from a rural background to let go his sporting talent and embrace the gun. His property in his native village in Central India gets usurped by a village strongman, a distant relative of his. Violence engulfs the screen from this point and continues unabated till the end, when the protagonist quite predictably succumbs and compels us to question the system that makes criminals out of such talented sportsperson.
The protagonist uses the rigorous physical training methodology he underwent during his stint in the Army to train his band of outlaws later. The fluid camerawork in this Tigmanshu Dhulia (Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster) directed film captures the mood in the unfolding sequences superbly - whether capturing the athletic events, or depicting the rural backdrop, it is spot on. The muted scene where Irrfan wins a race and his coach erupts in joy shows how visuals can effectively convey the emotions of situations without dialogues.
Almost the entire narrative unfolds through flashback with the protagonist giving an interview to a reporter at his secret hideout. The film is realistic in its depiction, and the gritty film could have done with a better editing. It tends to drag in patches, especially in the overdose of violence. Nawazuddin Siddique, who has made a name to reckon with his performances in Kaahani & GOW series, acts in a cameo.
The film won the Best Film award as well as the Best Actor award for Irrfan Khan at the National awards in 2013.
Rating: 3.8 out of 5