Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 4, 2020

Say Salaam India review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 5:33 pm

March 30, 2007

Cast: Sanjay Suri, Sandhya Mridul

Director: Subhash Kapoor

The other Bollywood film that’s made it to the cinemas this week is director Subhash Kapoor’s Say Salaam India, an inspiring underdog story about a group of boys from a small town in the Indian interiors whose passion for cricket helps them scale the heights they never thought they could reach.

It’s a film about overcoming all odds and about realizing one’s dreams. It’s also about sportsmanship and about playing sport for the right reasons.

In Say Salaam India, Sanjay Suri plays a dedicated cricket coach who after failing to instill a sense of sportsmanship in a team of rich, spoilt city kids decides to focus his attention on this bunch of small-town school-kids who have the drive and the ambition but not the resources to crack the state-level juniors team.

The coach’s mantra for success is simple: play honestly and diligently, ignore the opposition’s efforts to demoralize you, and aim to play well, not to win. It’s a formula that never fails.

No wonder the underdogs emerge successful after a nail-biting match against the old favourites.

Written and directed like it’s a story straight out of a class six moral science textbook, the problem withSay Salaam India is that it’s such an amateurish effort. I can’t understand why it’s mandatory to paint one person charcoal black in order to show how upright the other is. I’d have thought we’ve outgrown such clichés, but evidently we haven’t.

This film’s plot is as predictable as the weather in Alaska and sadly that’s what makes it such a royal bore. The only warm moments are provided in the interactions between Sanjay Suri and Sandhya Mridul who plays his supportive wife.

By far my favourite bit in the film is that part where he calls her the Rahul Dravid of his life, his strong wall. That apart it’s mostly a manipulative film that shamelessly taps into your emotions at every chance that it has.

And if you’re not seduced by the dark horse story of the kids who win against all odds, or the redemption saga of the coach who proved his point, then believe it or not the writers even throw in a child suffering from cerebral palsy to tap on your tear ducts. A sincere request here to Milind Soman: please stay away from acting if you haven’t learnt any.

In the end I’m going to go with two out of five for Say Salaam India. It’s bad enough the film is most ordinary, even the timing couldn’t be more inappropriate — this picture heralds our Indian cricket stars as heroes of the nation. Really, such bad timing.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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