“AZHAR” is engaging but not compelling!
With a half-baked, over-dramatized and unconvincing screenplay, AZHAR is definitely a failed attempt at a biography and merely solves the purpose of vindicating the tainted Indian cricket legend. While it keeps you occupied for all of its 140 minutes, it seems overstuffed and lacks the honesty of a genuine biopic.
'AZHAR' is based on a few highly talked about incidents and facts in former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin's life, who ended up becoming the country's most controversial sportsman yet. From setting world records that are yet to be broken, to getting embroiled in the first ever match fixing scandal the country witnessed, the film traces Azhar's insurmountable highs and his tremendous lows.
It’s faulty writing that’s to be blamed for the inability to create a delicious film out of such a polemical subject. You have the screenplay jumping back and forth in different points in Azhar’s life timeline. Not only does that make it hard for the makers to handle the film adeptly, it also makes for a somewhat haphazard watching experience. Not that the film loses your interest anywhere, it’s just the Bollywood-ish treatment of the subject that makes it subpar. The scenes lose continuity and eventually the climax seems highly contrived.
Watching a biopic, you expect compelling facts to drive you to the climax. But all you get here is a masala-filled filmy storyline that’s hardly convincing for an informed set of audience. Yes, the man had a colorful life, but, it was definitely based in reality and not the overblown and dramatized version of life that’s depicted here. If you don’t really care about the background, then this film will act as a quintessential bollywood entertainer, sufficient to satiate your weekend pastime quest.
Being an expensive product that it is, the overall production values are high. The sets look authentic and the Hyderabadi dialect really impresses. But the caricaturist approach to portraying the co-cricketers and other real life characters, really spoils the show. I’m sure, Ravi Shastri, Manoj Prabhakar and Navjot Singh Siddhu will be offended at some level or the other after seeing this film.
What this film lacks in overall credibility, it makes up for a lot of it through the superb performance by its leading man Emraan Hashmi. He’s poised and controlled, much like the personality he’s portraying and his hard work to get into the skin of the character really shows. He’s terrific with light scenes and heated moments alike and despite all physical limitations he’s made sure his body language conveys what he’s out to display. While you yearn for a better written script for such a performance, you just can’t help but enjoy his brilliant efforts. Prachi Desai appears briefly and so does Nargis Fakhri, who has the most ill-written role in the film. Lara Dutta performs decently as the self-disputed lawyer who’s both a fan of and an advocate against Azhar. Kunaal Roy Kapur is passable. Rajesh Sharma Shines in a small but pivotal role.
In all, AZHAR is totally watchable as a work of fiction, but fails terribly as a real life biography. Nevertheless, worth a one-time watch, if not for anything else, then for Hashmi’s committed act.
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