The problem with a cult film is that any other film made on that subject has to jostle hard to cut through the ‘cult’ tag. While watching this week’s release Harjeeta, one is not constantly taken back to the field where Chak De India or Khido Khundi was played.
Director Vijay Kumar Arora’s Harjeeta creates a comfortable space for itself without having to worry about any other movies that have been made on the same topic—hockey.
While on one hand, you cannot help marvelling at Arora’s neat direction; Jagdeep Sidhu’s story does a fine balancing act of emotions, drama, romance and comedy.
Whether it is the first half or the second half, the film maintains an interesting momentum. Impactful dialogues and effective cinematography make every scene in Harjeeta worth watching. The director has left no loose ends in his direction; every character and scene justifies its presence in the film.
Here, it becomes almost necessary to mention, Sameep Singh, the child artiste who plays junior Tuli (Harjeet Singh). It is Sameep who prepares the perfect ground for the young Tuli. Sameep delivers an award winning performance and so does the young Tuli (Ammy Virk).
While the film is based on professional hockey player Harjeet Singh Tuli, who captained the Indian team at 2016 Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup, the director has neatly balanced Tuli’s drive to be a hockey player and Tuli’s family, his love life. Not a single emotion in the film is misplaced.
In addition to fine direction and screenplay, it is the actors who have brought Harjeet Singh Tuli to life on screen. First on the list is Punjabi singer-actor Ammy Virk. It is hard not to notice the actor’s hard work, whether it is adopting the real Tuli’s young looks, his mannerism and his style. Ammy delivers an award winning performance. Ammy has taken to the character like chalk and cheese. Next up is Gurpreet Bhangu, the artiste who plays Tuli’s mother on screen. Gurpreet Bhangu is amazingly brilliant as a nagging mother. Gurpreet is effortlessly natural in her role, just like Parkash Gadu, the artiste playing Tuli’s father.
Harjeeta also opens an innings for Bollywood actor Pankaj Tripathi, who plays the role of a hockey coach. And talking about Pankaj Tripathi, the only word that comes to one’s mind is ‘brilliant’ and this is what he is in Harjeeta. Though for a hockey coach, Pankaj has considerably less screen space but it is pure magic to see him on screen for whatever time.
Sawan Rupowali is a pleasant change in Harjeeta. For once we can say we saw an actress in a Punjabi film who also acted well. Raj Jhinjer with his limited dialogues and screen space is still impressive.
The thing about this hockey film is that it is not a rip-off of the popular hockey films made before. Whether it is consciously or unconsciously, the director has ‘neatly’ avoided everything that Chak De India or Khido Khundi had. Harjeeta’s music is soothing to the ears and so is the background score.
Harjeeta is a fine example of a good story, good direction, good acting, good music, together in one team, heading for a goal...And goal it is for team Harjeeta!
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