Film review: Azhar is cringingly disingenuousness

Director: Tony D’Souza Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai, Nargis Fakhri One and a half stars If you’re a fan of cricket, Azhar will make you angry. Even if you’re not, it will surely irritate you with its glibness. Azhar is based on the life of Mohammad Azharuddin (Emraan Hashimi), arguably India’s most controversial cricket captain. […]

Director: Tony D’Souza

Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai, Nargis Fakhri

One and a half stars

If you’re a fan of cricket, Azhar will make you angry. Even if you’re not, it will surely irritate you with its glibness.

Azhar is based on the life of Mohammad Azharuddin (Emraan Hashimi), arguably India’s most controversial cricket captain. He admitted to throwing matches for money and thus received a lifetime cricket ban.

He also had a publicised affair with actress Sangeeta Bijlani, which resulted in the dissolving of his first marriage to Naureen in 1996. His eventual second marriage to Biljani, that same year, also ended in tears with the couple divorcing in 2000.

There is so much drama on offer, but what we get instead with Azhar is an almost pious retelling of Azharuddin’s life story. It feels like it was made for the sole purpose of exonerating the now 53-year-old for letting down millions of fans.

The movie starts with a wordy disclaimer to establish the movie is a dramatised version of Azharuddin’s life and any resemblance is coincidental.

Famous cricketers are identified solely by their first names (“Manoj”, “Sachin”, “Kapil”, “Javed”) – Azharuddin’s character is called Azhar Mohammad.

The film isn’t all that bad in the first half. We get to see how a simple Hyderabadi lad becomes India’s pride, navigates stardom and tries to resist the lure of a seductress. Some scenes of Azhar with his teammates will make you nostalgic for the simpler times in the sport’s history.

The disingenuousness in the second half is the film’s undoing. It attempted to show Azhar as a victim instead of a man who lost his head and made some bad decisions.

The courtroom scene, where Azhar’s lawyer (Kunaal Roy Kapoor) and the public prosecutor (Lara Dutta) duke it out after the match-fixing scandal is painful to watch: the film tries so desperately to paint Azhar as a misunderstood hero that it will make you cringe.

Hashmi, though inconsistent, will charm you with his earnestness. Backed by a more gutsy script, Azhar could easily have been his career highlight.

Prachi Desai, as Azhar’s first wife Naureen, is boringly one-dimensional and Nargis Fakhri, who plays the controversial lover Bijlani, is breathy, pouty and intermittently hysterical.

Azhar could have been a riveting film. Instead, it drops the ball spectacularly.

artslife@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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