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Movie Review: GOLD

Banner: Excel Entertainment

Producers: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar

Director: Reema Kagti

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kunal Kapoor, Vineet Kumar Singh, Amit Sadh, Sunny Kaushal, Mouni Roy, Ankita Dutta

Writers: Reema Kagti, Rajesh Devraj

Music: Sachin-Jigar, Arko, Tanishk Bagchi

When you’re making a commercial film, you tend to take cinematic liberties or try to infuse certain elements to make the movie very commercial. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t need to be 100 per cent true in your writing or execution. But you can’t do that when you’re making a film based on a true story, that too one that holds a very special moment for your country.

It’s disappointing. What’s the point of being one of the largest film companies in Hindi cinema and bringing one of our biggest superstars on board when the team doesn’t do their research thoroughly? GOLD is a perfect example of leveraging a superstar’s presence and patriotic theme to take the audience for a ride.

For instance, the main protagonist speaks with a Bengali accent throughout the film and, at one point, even says “Joy Durga”. Then, in the next scene, he starts singing a Hindi song (really now, so much for claiming to deliver an authentic movie dedicated to the first sports win by India). Bizarre, to say the least.

There are many more examples that call out this film, and we hope that the next time Excel Entertainment makes a film based on a true incident (even if they claim it is a finctionalised story), they will serve us something worth taking home.

Story: The year is 1936. The venue is Berlin. Two-time Olympic gold winners British India is playing Hitler’s Germany in the final. Under the captaincy of Samrat and the able support of team members like Imtiaz Shah, the Indian team achieves a hat trick. But the victory is bitter-sweet. Despite being a team of Indian players, the flag hoisted at the winner’s podium is that of the British Empire and the anthem that plays is ‘God Save The Queen’.

Tapan Das, the junior manager of the team, is as upset about it as is the rest of the team. On that day, a dream is born, to win the Olympic Gold as an independent nation. In the years that follow, the world goes through much upheaval. The Second World War results in the Olympics Games of 1940 and 1944 being cancelled. The team disseminates and Das drowns himself in alcohol and gambling.

But in 1946, as the voices for India’s independence start getting stronger, news of the 1948 Olympics in London is also announced. Excited by this news, Das approaches the hockey federation to allow him to form a new team India. He travels the country and with the help of Imtiaz assembles a new team with young players like Himmat Singh and Raghubir Pratap Singh. With the joy of independence comes the pain of Partition. The Radcliffe line did not just divide the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan, it also divided the people of these nations. What started out as the Indian team was left with just a handful of players. Imtiaz and a few more Muslims move to Pakistan and the Anglo-Indians decide to settle abroad. Das once again seeks refuge in alcohol.

At this time, Samrat comes to his aide. He takes a break from his job as a school hockey coach and decides to set up the team once again. The task, this time around, is much more difficult. But with the support of Das’s wife Monobina and the generous Hockey Federation president Mr Wadia, Das and Samrat manage to put together a team. What follow are ego struggles and other challenges on and off the field in London, coming face-to-face with some old mates… but how team India along with Das overcome every hurdle to win gold for India is what the film is all about.

The strength of these content-driven films is always writing, followed by execution but GOLD fails in both departments. The character introductions are quick. Not much time is spent creating any drama on introductory scenes. Whether the opening sequence of the Berlin Olympics, the pain of Partition or the final moments of victory in the 1948 London Olympics, everything whizzes by all too quickly. But it still looks like a lengthy process. There is a little humour (thanks to Akshay Kumar and the way he’s handled his character) and the patriotic flavour is used as and when needed.

Music plays a very important role in a film like this but there is not much to say about it in this film. There are two songs that seem completely unnecessary to the narrative, and the blame for this lies with the director and not the composers. Even so, not a single song grabs your attention during the film, or stays with you after the film ends. Background music too fails to hold your attention.

Performance-wise, Akshay Kumar as Tapan Das is a delight to watch. He is funny, passionate, emotional and dramatic. He captures the essence of his character and carries it throughout the film. At no point does he let his superstar status take over Tapan or for that matter any of the other characters. His presence is the only USP of this film.

Kunal Kapoor as Samrat is decent. He brings dignity and respect to his role. Vineet Kumar Singh as Imtiaz touches your heart. Both these actors have limited screen space but every time they are on screen, they shine. Amit Sadh as the aristocratic Raghubir Pratap Singh is terrific. Sunny Kaushal as the hot-headed Himmat Singh impresses from the first time he appears on screen. He is exceptionally good in the emotional scenes. Mouni Roy as Tapan’s wife Monobina and Ankita Dutta as Himmat’s sweetheart have done their parts well. How one wishes the writers had crafted a few more layers to their characters.

Verdict: GOLD manages to impresses in parts only because of the presence of leading man Akshay Kumar. The film is a treat for Kumar’s fans but that’s it! Superhit!

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