Emraan Hashmi Nargis Fakhri Prachi Desai Lara Dutta Gautam Gulati Manjot Singh Kunaal Roy Kapur Rajesh Sharma
Balaji Motion Pictures & Sony Pictures Networks
A man who believed in one God, was married twice, and was blamed for match fixing — former Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin’s controversial life provides the basic storyline for Azhar.
However, the makers decide to play it safe by slamming a huge disclaimer in the beginning of the film stating that the film is not a biopic and stresses only on certain events and episodes that occurred in the cricketer’s life. To further safeguard their interests, it also states that certain cinematic liberties are taken to fictionalize the story.
Basically, telling the viewers to throw out every notion/judgement they have about the former cricketer and view it from a purely cinematic perspective and get entertained.
But does Azhar entertain? Well, in parts yes and in parts no.
Helmed by Tony D’souza, the non-linear plot opens with cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin’s (Emraan) victory in his 99th test and doesn’t take too long to establish the main plot – the downfall of the cricketing legend who was allegedly involved in match-fixing.
The movie travels back in time as Reddy (Kunaal Roy Kapoor), Azhar’s old friend and now lawyer insists on hearing everything from the start. So we are taken back to 8th February 1963, the day Azhar was born. The writers of the film have not put much effort in telling how Azhar started his journey and became a cricketer. Rather it stresses on how it was his grandfather’s (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) dream to see him play for the Indian cricket team.
In fact, while the makers had proclaimed that they would celebrate the life of this cricketing legend, who debuted with three consecutive centuries in his first tests, they hardly focused on him on the pitch. There is no on-ground action to build the energy and tempo that is needed in a sports drama - rather in an attempt to be a typical entertainer, the film highlights his relationships with his two wives – Naureen (Prachi Desai) and Sangeeta Bijlani (Nargis Fakhri).
And while there are many technical flaws in the film, the moments that the director creates between Azhar and Naureen are really sweet and endearing. But the same can’t be said about building the chemistry between Emraan and Nargis.
However, what really saves the film is its star— Emraan Hashmi, who has delivered one of his finest performances in Azhar. The movie is worth a watch solely for him. Prachi Desai leaves an impact as the demure Naureen. Nargis still has a way to go from being a pretty face to an actor. Kunaal Roy Kapoor as the lawyer lacking confidence does a decent job. Lara Dutta as the snooty opposition lawyer Meera is passable. The rest of the characters played by the likes of Varun Badola, Gautam Gulathi, Manjot Singh are poorly sketched and hence fail to leave any impression on the screen.
On the whole, one can safely say that Azhar is a classic example of a great plot, gone to waste.