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

January 30, 2009

Clean bowled

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 7:10 pm

January 30, 2009

Cast: Harman Baweja, Amrita Rao

Director: Ajit Pal Mangat

Victory starring Harman Baweja is a Madhur Bhandarkar film in disguise. It goes through all the motions of a typical Bhandarkar film, the same ups and downs you’ve seen in Page 3Corporate or Fashion, except that Victory features a male protagonist and it’s set against the backdrop of cricket.

So Harman stars as Vijay Shekhawat, a small-town kid, brimming with batting potential, who gets selected to play for the Indian cricket team. His is an overnight success story. From anonymous newcomer to Next Big Thing, it doesn’t take long for him to fall in the wrong company – in this case a cunning talent manager (played by Gulshan Grover) who lands him big endorsement deals, but also distracts him from the game and gets him addicted to wine, women and wealth. By the time our hero realises he’s lost everything that’s dear to him, it’s a tad too late. But nothing that a lazy screenplay-writer can’t solve by resorting to the oldest clichés in the book.

Like most of Bhandarkar’s films, Victory too is more predictable than the weather in Alaska. But to be fair to Bhandarkar, at least his films have a handful of memorable moments. Victory, unfortunately, is a completely forgettable film whose scenes play out exactly how you’d expect them to.

Sports films often follow the same blueprint; there’s rarely any surprise in how a film about cricket or football or hockey will turn out – the hero’s side always wins. You see, the trick is not in the ending, but in how you reach the ending. Think about it – were you surprised that the villagers beat the British in “Lagaan”, or that the Indian women’s hockey team won the match in “Chak De India”? No, you knew that was going to happen twenty minutes into both films. It’s the journey up to that expected ending that made both those films special. The problem with Victory is, there is nothing to discover, nothing to surprise you, and nothing exciting at all about how it reaches its expected ending.

Amateurishly directed by Ajitpal Mangat, the film is laughable in its supposedly emotional scenes, and too long by at least twenty minutes. The climax, a real hoot, is inspired much from Indian cricket history, with creative liberties thrown in for good measure. So you have six sixers back-to-back, and one final one that smashes the floodlights. All this delivered by our hero who’s bleeding profusely from the head, his vision blurred from the injury.

Forgive me for those spoilers, but chances are by this point you’ve fallen asleep in your seat already.

Now the big question – has Harman improved since “Love Story 2050”? Well, he’s lost some of his stiffness, and his acting’s a lot less labored for sure. But it’s going to take a much better film and a less stereotyped character for him to show what he’s really got. I would recommend, additionally, that he fire his make-up man instantly – the patches on the forehead, the uneven pancake really doesn’t make much of an impression.

Amrita Rao is wasted as our hero’s childhood love; and Anupam Kher hams it up as Shekhawat’s upright father, cracking you up with his rhythmic paralytical spasms.

It is in the end, an entirely pointless film, an exercise in futility. I’ll go with one out of five and a thumbs-down for director Ajitpal Mangat’s Victory, a film that reduces real heroes like Harbhajan Singh and Brett Lee to junior artistes in the background. Watch it only if you have a high threshold for pain.

(This review was first aired on CNN-IBN)

1 Comment »

  1. Its was a clean bowled on a free hit 😐

    Comment by Amey — December 23, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

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