Bollywood has seen many films that have been based on sports like cricket, hockey, football etc. In the recent times, there was the Priyanka Chopra starrer biopic MARY KOM that brought the game of boxing in the public eye and gave it the (due) credit it deserved. This week's release SAALA KHADOOS too takes an inside look in the world of boxing. Will the film deliver a knockout punch at the box-office or will it hang its gloves, let's analyse.
First things first. One has to simply give it to the film's director Sudha Kongara Prasad for bringing out a film that is simply a class apart. While she has already made films in the South (ANDHRA ANDAGADU, DROHI), SAALA KHADOOS marks her directorial debut in Bollywood. In addition to SAALA KHADOOS, she has also directed the Tamil version of the film IRUDHI SUTTRU, which has a different tone and content from the Hindi version. Besides directing the film, Sudha Kongara Prasad is also the writer of SAALA KHADOOS. And she excels superlatively in both the departments. Her stint of being an assistant director to filmmaker Mani Ratnam for nearly seven years seems to have paid rich dividend and it shows in the film in the form of a tight and crisp screenplay. Director Sudha Kongara deserves distinction marks. This one's straight from the heart. Full marks to her for convincingly depicting a story of an underdog girl and her coach fighting against all the odds as they race towards victory. In addition to this, she has not only highlighted upon the existing (dirty) politics in the sports of boxing, but also the sorry plight of the players who represent India on an international level. While the film's narrative is fast and doesn't lag at any place, the sad part is that the film's dialogues lack the much needed 'punch'.
As far as the performances are concerned, it is the film's lead stars R. Madhavan and debutante Ritika Singh who carry the film on their shoulders right from the start to the end. R. Madhavan delivers an extraordinary and extremely realistic performance. His hard work and dedication shows in every step of his performance. Right from attaining the perfectly toned body to his impeccable control over his emotions, R. Madhavan comes a clean winner. His chemistry with Ritika has to be seen to be believed. As far as Ritika Singh is concerned, she is definitely a revelation and a find of Bollywood. She is not just a firebrand, but also surely a name to watch out for. Despite being a debutante, she doesn't show any signs of nervousness. Her being a real life martial arts expert has helped her immensely while delivering such flawless performance. Do not miss the nail biting finale. While Nasar and Zakir Hussain are first rate, Mumtaz Sorcar and also the couple who play Ritika's parents are extremely endearing and believable, which adds to the film's narrative. Every character in the film shines in his own right.
A special word of mention to R. Madhavan and Raju Hirani for having backed a film like SAALA KHADOOS as producers.
On the whole, SAALA KHADOOS is an euphoric and electrifying film with amazing performances from the lead cast. It is definitely engaging, and inspiring. It truly deserves an ovation and is worth your time and money. SAALA KHADOOS delivers a solid punch. Winner!