Thursday, August 16, 2018

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Strikes home and touches a chordA poster of Gold. Photo: Twitter
Movie Review: Gold

Strikes home and touches a chord

15 Aug 2018 | 6:05 PM

Film: Gold

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kunal Kapoor, Mouni Roy , Amit Sadh, Vineet Kumar Singh and SunnyKaushal

Director: Reema Kagti

[ + read story ]

Nonika Singh 

Reliving the golden moment, Indian hockey’s first Olympic gold medal won way back in 1948, is just the reminder one needs around India’s 72nd Independence Day. Expectedly the film is as high on India’s national game hockey as the patriotic sentiments. Avenging 200 years of slavery with a sporting victory might sound a bit stretched out thought. But if you place the movie in the right context it does make a whole lot of sense.

Not that the film is a factual lesson in history. Of course, the pre-independence period is the backdrop for a major part of the film. As it begins with the British Indian team picking up the gold in 1936 Berlin Olympics, it also shows the birth of a dream dreamt by one particular individual.

Akshay Kumar as Tapan Das is the man who not only guides the hockey team to victory but also the film. The lead actor as also its anchor, it is his voice that takes us through the dramatic highs and lows of the narrative. 

Certainly the film has many Bollywood moments, songs, especially Chad gayi hai, are thoroughly unnecessary. When the deputy manager of Indian hockey team says; now Tapan Das will entertain you with a song and he duly obliges, you are almost tempted to make a dig. But Akshay is not here to entertain but to inspire. Not just the team which he leads by becoming its manager but the audiences as well. 

Indeed, Gold is an inspirational film with dollops of patriotic fervour thrown in for good measure. However, the film stays with its core subject hockey too. And the most refreshing part is that a woman has helmed this sports film. 

Reema Kagti as the director of the ship is brilliant and in the execution of hockey scenes nowhere do you feel that the playing technique of the game is not in capable hands. The hockey scenes offer you all the excitement and adrenaline rush. Even though you know the climax, Kagti keeps you on tenterhooks and during the proceedings even manages to plant the seed of doubt… did India really win the match? 

As for extracting performances from its talented cast led by superstar Akshay Kumar, well Akshay’s Bengali diction may not be consistent but as a man possessed with getting a medal for free India, his is an earnest act. How he builds the team, not just once but twice over are the highpoints that grab your attention. The partition saga only figures to depict how India lost its probable captain to Pakistan. Vineet Kumar Singh as Imtiaz Shah doesn’t get too many scenes but makes a solid impact nevertheless. 

Of course, the real scene stealer is Amit Sadh (Raghubir Pratap Singh) As the royal member of the team hailing from an exalted blue blood family, he gets his posture as well as chutzpah right and wears the enormity of his being up his sleeve with aplomb. And keeping him company is Sunny Kaushal playing hockey player Himmat Singh. In the film, he may get a chance to play only in the final match of Olympics, but he gets all his moves right. As they say in Punjabi he is truly in chadi kalan. Mouni Roy makes a decent debut and looks lovely as the Bengali wife who gives the all-important lesson to her husband Tapan.

Did the Indian hockey team actually play barefoot, was the team’s unity split wide open and were there men like Tapan Das constantly egging the team? Rest assured, google won’t give easy answers for there is more fiction than fact here. But yes hockey legend Balbir Singh Senior, part of the winning team back then, has time and again admitted to feeling highly patriotic at that moment of glory. No wonder, the film closes by playing the ultimate patriotic card; National Anthem which we all know never fails to move, not even the most sceptical.

So go ahead a dash of patriotism, even in days of manufactured nationalism, can only be uplifting. To make it simple, the answer to whether the film lies in the viewing category, is a resounding yes.

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