Balaji Motion Pictures & Sony Picture Networks’ AZHAR is the fictionalized tale on the life, trail and tribulations of one of the most successful cricket captains India has ever seen; Mohd. Azharuddin. Emraan Hashmi plays the role of Azhar as we see him make a change from a shy introvert and at the same time a brilliant cricketer into a clam composed and tainted human being. The movie begins with Azhar’s maternal father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) telling the young kid that always let your bat do the talking; and that’s what Azhar does in his cricketing career as he piled up the records and never listened to what his critics had to say. As the story progresses you get to see how Azhar had to handle jealousy from his teammates who were his seniors when he was named the captain of the team. How he went on to fall in love head over heels with a famous actress (Nargis Fakhri) even though he seemed happily married with his first wife (Prachi Desai). How when he was stripped from the right to play cricket none of his so called friends never stood by his side. How he even had to convince his own childhood friend (Kunal Roy Kapoor) to fight his legal case against a defense lawyer (Lara Dutta) who was always a big fan of the captain. How the man with all these question marks finally finds the answer becomes the crux of the movie.
The movie starts off with great promise. The makers, seamlessly brings the narrative of the story back and forth to bring the highs and lows of a cricketer going through the whirlpool of emotions. The movie is in lighting pace in the first half keeps the audiences intrigued with the on goings in the life of the troubled cricketer. The initial romantic set up between Emraan Hashmi and Prachi Desai is also endearing. The interval point of the movie is a standout moment. Although the pace of the movie drops down in the second half as the makers move the story away from the stadium to a court room but all of it is still dealt expertly.
What however doesn’t cross the boundary line in the movie is the why some of the key scenes are handled in the film. There is no drama build up in the film and that too in key areas. For instance the pre-climax shot of Azhar walking out onto the field with Team India in a messy situation; in the first few balls he faces he knicks one out and a fielder drops the catch. The way they wrote that line is more dramatic than the way it’s filmed in the movie. It’s a mundane shot in the film which really hits home the point why it’s always important to keep the drama up in situations like these. The other downer in the movie is the completely out of place Nargis Fakhri; she is a complete misfit.
Production values are good. Cinematography is first-class. Music is a great while one is watching the film. Amaal Malik’s Bol Do Na Zara is a superb, while Pritam’s Itni Si Baat is another great composition. Editing could have been better. The real winner in the movie; are the sensational dialogues of Rajat Aroraa. Aroraa brings out the angst and frame of mind of the lead characters with some great élan!
Performance wise, Emraan Hashmi has given his career’s best performance easily. He is so calm and composed in his portrayal that it will have one and all simply amazed. From getting Azharuddin’s mannerism to even his rocking walk Hashmi has mastered it all for his role. Prachi Desai gives a subtle performance; her outburst scene in the second half shows her acting pedigree. Nargis Fakhri is a complete mis-cast. She looks completely out of place and hardly adds anything to the movie. Kunal Roy Kapoor starts off going a little over the top but grows into his character with ease and does well. Lara Dutta does a fair job. Kulbhusan Kharbanda is great in the small part. Debutant Gautam Gulati does well and has a strong screen presence. Rajesh Sharma as the bookie is fantastic. Manjot Singh, Varun Badola and others provide able support.
As a director, Tony D’souza tries to tell a complicated tale and he succeeds for the most part. He however isn’t able to extract even a decent performance from one of the leads in the film which is a shocker!
At the box-office
The film has taken a good start and with a growing word of mouth will only make the chances of the movie to perform better at the ticket windows easier.