Gold Review: Akshay film is more about him and less about hockey

November 17, 2019 0 Comments

first_imgTapan Das (Akshay Kumar) has one goal in life: to see free India’s flag flying high at the Olympics. Even better if it comes at the cost of beating England. Plenty of obstacles come his way, few of his own making, as he sets out to achieve his target. This is Kumar in the rousing patriot act and lecture mode, one that earned him his first National Award for acting for Rustom. And so Gold sees Kumar drunkenly dance to trite songs, put on a dodgy Bengali accent, fake moustache and dhoti to rouse love for the nation. The net result is a trying watch, rewarding mostly when it stays away from Das and goes to action on field which is limited for a sports drama.Gold starts off with the 1936 Olympics in Berlin when Das is what looks like the kit manager for the British India team. Indians have beaten Fuhrer’s Germany in his presence but Das isn’t happy for he longs for the day when Indians are not playing for the British flag but its own.Director-writer Reema Kagti makes quick work of history as World War II and India’s independence flash by in news clips and war footage. Das passes a decade in alcohol-laced stupor from which he is awakened when he read that Olympics will return – the 1940 and ’44 Games were called off – in London in 1948. The development gives him renewed energy as he looks to avenge England’s 200-year-old hegemony by winning gold and thereby prove that India’s hockey flourishes without them too. Interestingly, Das’ appearance has barely changed in this action-packed decade. We’re guessing that the fish has done him good.advertisementAnd so begins Das’ own Sardar Patel-like mission in trying to assemble a Team India only to see it break a year later with the partition of India, and for it to come together again with a little bit of charity from monks and a wise and wealthy Parsi gentleman named Wadia in charge of the hockey federation. In between we see Das enjoying his alcohol, being lectured by his “noble wife” (Mouni Roy) and trying to instil nationalism in the players.It’s ingenious that Gold, a film on a historic sporting moment, centres on a leading man who has a more behind-the-scenes role. So it’s surprising then that how little is revealed about him.. We know that he is a “paagal Bengali man” entrusted with the responsibility to scout for hockey talent because he was quick to see an opportunity here. But how did he get into hockey? How did he acquire knowledge of the game? How does he run his well-furnished house and afford fancy kurtas if he can’t hold on to a job? He isn’t a coach offering tactics but more a motivation speaker or sports psychologist .Which is why when the attention shifts to characters who wield the sticks and do the running, passing, dodging and flicking, Gold springs to life. Kunal Kapoor is Samrat, captain of the 1936 squad, a player inspired by the legendary Dhyan Chand. There’s Imtiaz Shah (Vineet Kumar Singh), modelled on Ali Dara, who was part of the gold-winning 1936 side and then played for Pakistan post 1947. Here Imtiaz is forced to leave his home and training centre in India on account of a violent mob. Kagti handles the departure of Muslims like Imtiaz across the border with sensitivity and manages to make it contemporarily relevant and poignant too.Sunny Kaushal shines the brightest among the supporting cast. His temperamental but talented Punjabi, Himmat Singh, is constantly at odds with the rich and vainglorious Raghubir Pratap Singh (Amit Sadh) more so given they are vying for the same position – centre forward. Their rivalry creates the necessary drama and conflict that Das’s struggle is unable to satisfyingly provide. It’s through the different socio-economic backgrounds of Himmat and Raghubir and their diverse approaches to the game – Raghubir refuses to be a team player and pass the ball – we get a sense of the scale of India’s achievement to continue its winning streak given the circumstances. (India also won the hockey gold in 1952 and 1956 Games)Kagti frequently relies on jingoism to hold audience’s attention but it’s a desperate move that doesn’t pay emotional dividends like it did in Lagaan. There’re many speeches here on the need to stay united and not fight amongst each other, tips that current India can definitely benefit from. The ghost of Shimit Amin’s enjoyable Chak De! India lingers over Gold given it to centres on one man dreaming of the impossible and achieving it.advertisementBut Gold’s increasing tendency to take a simplistic and contrived approach to history to create thrill doesn’t work. So when the rains play spoilsport in the final – Hey, it’s London – and the shoes and socks are off you know the stage is set for an uplifting climax (in reality India comprehensively beat England 4-0 in the finals). And inevitably the national anthem. In Gold the standing ovation is not earned but forced.ALSO READ | Movie Review: GoldALSO READ | Gold box office collection Day 1: Akshay Kumar gets his highest opener everALSO WATCH | Akshay Kumar opens up on his Gold journeylast_img read more