Well, I watched it! And it was super frustrating! Very good bit-bad bit, good bit-bad bit, and on and on. I’m recommending it if you really like Farhan Akhtar (he is super charming), and if you are desperate for a romance (there’s a sweet one). But I am not recommending it as a movie as a whole because it is way WAY too confused.
I saw that some reviews were calling it “predictable”. Predictable is good! Predictable is fine! Especially with sports movies. The point isn’t the destination, it’s the journey. If anything, I think this movie should have been MORE predictable. It just meanders, the points got muddled up, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be feeling. The love story worked, and Farhan worked, but then the film threw in all this other stuff that just didn’t work.
Again, made me appreciate Sultan!!! This film should have been Sultan, really. The broad strokes of the plot are almost identical, but it makes different choices which are far far worse. Sultan isn’t perfect, but it had a point and a focus and knew what it was doing. This thing is just a disaster.
Maybe it is because Raykesh Omprakesh Mehra can’t do a straightforward movie? This is as straightforward as I have ever seen from him, no weird time leaps back and forth, no strange philosopher wandering around the edges, just a 6 year story that goes start to finish in chronological order. But it doesn’t feel in order, it feels more confused than if it were full of flashbacks. Maybe he should have leaned into his natural style and jumped back and forth in time so at least it would be thematically tied together? Instead of feeling all messy?
What’s frustrating is that there is so much good within the mess, primarily in the love story. Farhan and Mrunal have great chemistry, and a really unusual sort of love story. She gets to be a mature adult along with him, they get to make their own decisions and stick with them, they fight and make up like mature adult people not like poetic drama queens. Vijay Raaz is there and his few scenes are very VERY strong. Supriya Pathak, also great. But just not enough of her. Not enough of any of that good stuff.
I guess the problem with the film boils down to two things. First, Paresh Rawal. The film expects me to care about his character way more than I do (meaning, more than “0”). So every time it goes back to him I tended to lose interest, and it went back to him A LOT. Second, filming fight scenes. Boxing scenes are really really hard to film in a way that works. But when it does work, it is incredibly powerful. The Rocky movies, the Creed movies, the Ali biopic, they all had these spectacular set pieces that just Worked. And it makes people think it’s easy, think you can just film a fight and the audience will get it. But, nope! The fights here are well-filmed, as in, the camera moves around and they are properly lit and all of that. But whatever magic is necessary to make us feel something just isn’t there. A boxing movie has to make us feel the fights, make us care, make us see them as the culmination of something. We got that in Sultan, we got that in Dangal, but not here.
So, I am going a qualified recommendation. Nice love story, charming Farhan, a lot of stuff you won’t care about.