Some stories seem very interesting on paper. You get hooked, perhaps captivated. But there are times when these stories lose sheen when translated on celluloid. As a storyteller, you need to have the convincing power to keep the viewer hooked. Also, you ought to know when and how to conclude the story. Like they say, never stretch a story beyond a point… STRIKER, directed by Chandan Arora, falters because the story doesn’t arrest your attention in entirety and also, it seems like a never-ending ride, even though the running time is approx. 2 hours. Frankly, the story overstays its welcome. Cinema is all about narrating stories and Chandan Arora makes a sincere attempt to narrate one in STRIKER, but the multiple tracks and layers in the film act as a spoilsport. The screenplay is patchy and the focus shifts from one episode to another constantly. It’s not sacrilegious to have multiple tracks in a film, but you need to conclude each track before the actual story reaches its culmination. Clearly, the screenplay writing lets STRIKER down. Also, the subject material is very Mumbai-centric and therefore, will appeal to a miniscule audience. Final word? The striker doesn’t strike! Set in a Mumbai ghetto in the mid 80s, Surya [Siddharth] grows up with few luxuries. Poor health keeps him away from school often and that is when his elder brother, Chandrakant [Anoop Soni], introduces him to carrom. Hopes for a job in Dubai replaces the passion for carrom as Surya grows into a young man. Duped by a bogus overseas employment agency, Surya loses his hard earned money he had saved for going to Dubai. Surya is forced to cross paths with Jaleel [Aditya Pancholi]. Reintroduced to carrom by his childhood friend Zaid [Ankur Vikal], Surya starts playing again. Being robbed of his hard earned money by the same man who had caused misery for many families, Surya decides to take on Jaleel on his turf. First things first. Even though STRIKER attempts to narrate the story of a carrom player, depicting the highs and lows in his life, the question is, does it have recall value after the show has concluded? The game of carrom being used for gambling may sound interesting and Chandan Arora should’ve stuck to the core issue, instead of drifting into multi-tracks. Like, for instance, the romance – between Siddharth and his neighbour – is concluded abruptly. The girl disappears suddenly after her father spots Siddharth and her in the train. But pray why? Naah, no explanations are offered. Ditto for Anupam Kher’s character. He seems hell-bent on putting an end to Aditya Pancholi’s reign of terror, but when Kher comes face to face with Pancholi, all he does is play an intermediary between Pancholi and his arch rival, whom Pancholi assumes had betrayed him. The track between Siddharth and Padma Priya, a fisher woman, seems forced in the screenplay. Even the finale – the death of his sister [Vidya Malvade] and brother-in-law during communal riots and the subsequent fight-to-finish with Pancholi – looks unreal, when the film seems to be following a realistic pattern. Chandan Arora’s choice of the story is right, but the erratic screenplay writing will cost him dear. However, there’s no denying that he has handled a number of individualistic scenes well. The music [multiple music composers] is soothing. P.S. Vinod’s cinematography is perfect. Siddharth is as natural as natural can be. He is superb. Aditya Pancholi looks noxious and enacts his part just too wonderfully. Anupam Kher does an okay job, partly because his character is not well-defined. Padma Priya looks confident. Ankur Vikal does very well. Seema Biswas gets into the skin of the character. Vidya Malvade doesn’t get much scope. Anoop Soni is perfect. The actress playing Noorie is passable.
On the whole, STRIKER lacks a solid script to strike a chord.