wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?)
A collection of newspaper articles presented in the form of moving images. Yet, it brings some form of closure to not-so-happy trip down nostalgia, even if it is fictional.Read more
If you belong to my age group and were a cricket fan, you will remember the heartache that came with allegation of match-fixing against Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja - arguably, the most loved cricketers of that time. For generation next of the game's fans it is like finding out that all those matches we lost, were because Dhoni or Kohli got a huge payoff for losing them. Ouch, that hurts.
So, now we have a biopic on Azharuddin. Considering the man himself is involved in some of the film's promotion, it is highly unlikely that we will see both sides of the story. However, knowing what we know about his ban from the game, we take it with a pinch of salt and think of it as his perspective.
Watching with that in mind, Azhar brings a certain amount of excited anticipation. It will be different. I am not too sure I want to see too much of his personal life. But, yes, it will bring two of my favorites together – cricket and movies.
Interestingly, I didn't expect this of the Cricket Biopic trio to come first. It certainly is likely to be the most interesting story because the one on Sachin Tendulkar will most likely be all adulatory and rightly so and the one on Mahendra Singh Dhoni is seemingly about his rags-to-riches story. Azhar seems to be the only controversial one, one that feels more like a story, rather than an account or a documentary.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Yes, a woman is wronged when her husband, who she loves and more importantly, trusts cheats on her. Yes, a sports fan is wronged when a player they love and trusts, cheats or is even accused of cheating. When Emraan Hashmi trying his best to convince us that he is Mohammed Azharuddin, pleads to the cricket board saying, “You know me. Could I do that? Could I sell my country out?”, you feel like he is talking to the cricket fan in you. Especially because, it was unbelievable, when it did happen. If Azharuddin is a cheater, anyone else can be, right? So, the film brings about some sort of closure to that unpleasant time. Even if it is not very convincing – as a film, as a story.
It is a good thing then, that a voiceover reads out a long disclaimer absolving the film from the responsibility of being a biopic. Because that would then require it to give some context to the Hansie Cronje allegation, the South African cricketer who was part of another scandal himself. The film would also have needed to be smarter about showing why it took 8 years for the goofy lawyer (Kunal Roy Kapoor) to smarten up. The film could also offer some explanation for taking cheap shots at other cricketers. It would have had to dig deeper and be much smarter.
But hey, this is not a biopic. So we get newspaper articles strung together with a not so convincing actor playing the cricketer. Emraan Hashmi's performance is earnest. And it's not like the actor has to bear physical resemblance to the player. Even if you put a 70+ Amitabh Bachchan and tell me to believe he is Mohammad Azharuddin from the 90s, I will give you a benefit of doubt. But, the mannerism, the body language, his diction, something had to be in sync, right?
Prachi Desai is appropriately demure as the first Mrs Azharuddin and does most with the little space she has. But there is a huge distraction in Kunal Roy Kapoor's act, more specifically his uneven and where-are-you-from accent. Lara Dutta, as the lawyer too is too superficially written a character considering she has a big enough part. In fact, the only actor then who manages to convince is Nargis Fakhri who has to play an actress who cannot act well.
As a story then, Azhar doesn't pace itself too well. For example, to start his story Azhar spends a lot of time on the player's childhood with zero mention of his rise from the streets of a regular household in Hyderabad. After a brief mention of his glorious debut, there is no mention of his efficiency as India's best captain, whose record was broken only 15-17 years later. There is a passing reference to his rich taste but barely any incident that lets that come through. Even if this were a 100% fictional character, we would need these details to get involved in the story.
Our involvement is taken for granted and actually we give in willingly too. So, despite lapses in the narrative, despite dialogue writing that makes almost every character into a preacher with an 'inspirational quote of the day', despite unanswered questions, we stay interested. This interest, this engagement which was so willingly given without any doing from the filmmaker, is not used to its fullest. In the end, if you come out of the theater feeling that the film was 'not too bad' it is quite likely that it is because we like the cricketer, we like cricket.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Azhar is not an apologetic bio-pic. It doesn’t try too hard to portray the fallen hero as a victim. The director lets the story tell itself out in the hope that the truth will emerge in the process. It does. To a point. ... full review
Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, AZHAR is a highly engaging piece of cinema that grips you completely and keeps you guessing. The story telling is objective as it shows both sides of the coin. You are simultaneously treated to the arguments for and against the verdict on Azhar's personal and public upheavals. You are also made to come across a fiercely hungry actor in Emraan Hashmi who simply grabs you by your eyeballs and compels you to witness his masterful knock! ... full review
Thumbs up, by Mohammad Murtaza Ali , Desi Martini : ...Overall, Azhar, despite its flaws and inconsistencies, proves to be an engaging cinematic experience. How it succeeds in weaving together different genres is quite commendable. The movie's real highlight is its nonlinear narrative constructed using brilliant flashbacks thanks to some topnotch editing. Just like Azhar’s career and life, the movie also has its highs and lows, but there is not a moment in there that can be described as boring. Recommended! ... full review
Thumbs up, by Ananya Bhattacharya, india today : ...n all, this Tony D'Souza film works solely because of Emraan Hashmi. The actor pours in his heart and soul into playing Azhar, being Azhar.... full review
So-So, by Sreeju Sudhakaran, Bollywood Life : ...There is a line in the film where Azhar says people forget all his achievements just because he made a couple of mistakes. That was the thread the film should have followed – a man on top of his game, compromising his character in a weak moment – instead of writing a narrative that completely whitewashes the character. Like last year’s Talwar, the movie should have left the decision for the audiences to make whether Azhar was the wronged one or not. However, the makers lacked the guts to do so, making this a totally one sided match. But kudos to Emraan Hashmi who makes the proceedings believable! ... full review
So-So, by Mehul S Thakkar, Deccan Chronicle : ...The film does touch upon the dark side of match-fixing and shows how Azhar was deserted by his people during the trying times. In fact, there is also a scene where he is shown accepting money to throw away a match. But how Azhar’s character deals with that situation is for you to find out in the theaters. Contrary to what many would expect, the film is not a one-sided affair. However, by the end of it, Azhar does come out looking like a hero. ... full review
So-So, by Yatharth Chauhan, Desi Martini : ...Azhar in totality is one of those matches that you won not because you played well, but the other team just didn’t turn out! Though for all the effort that Emraan put behind this work of ‘dramatized biopic’, he deserves some extra marks! ... full review
So-So, by Smita Vyas Kumar, Desi Martini : ...The story between him and his first wife is sweet and the romance between him and Sangeeta Bijlani takes place mostly over a song and a few scenes of her saying no and he looking at her intensely in true Emran Hashmi fashion. ... full review
So-So, by Rohit Vats , Hindustan Times : ...The Emraan Hashmi charm mixed with shy Azharuddin mannerism makes it a heady cocktail. You wouldn’t want to put it down without giving it a try. ... full review
So-So, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...The courtroom drama in the second half is almost unbearable with Lara Dutta as a prosecutor lawyer screeching her way till the end with Rajat Arora's bordering on nonsense rhyming dialogues and, of course, a feeble attempt at trying to attribute Azhar's deed (or misdeed?) to patriotism.... full review
So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...A problem with this film is that it won't agree well with ardent Azhar fans, given the slips in factual accuracy. And his detractors would argue against his engineered victim image in the film. So the point is, who does that leave Azhar with? ... full review
So-So, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, NDTV : ...The courtroom drama in the second half is almost unbearable with Lara Dutta as a prosecutor lawyer screeching her way till the end with Rajat Arora's bordering on nonsense rhyming dialogues and, of course, a feeble attempt at trying to attribute Azhar's deed (or misdeed?) to patriotism. ... full review
So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Azhar’s most weighty dialogue comes much later— that scoring a 100 is important, no one applauds for a 99. In the end, the character calls the entire allegation and his winning the court case “the biggest test-match of his life”. If only the onscreen attempt was half as complex and intriguing as the real story. ... full review
So-So, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...It is to Emraan Hashmi’s credit that he has approached his part in all sincerity. He rises above the mediocrity of the script to essay a commendable performance. Emraan makes ‘Azhar’ watchable. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vetticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...Azhar is a superficial look at the life of one of the most enigmatic and intriguing sporting stars this country has ever seen. It is an opportunity lost. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...Hashmi looks like he’s in a hurry to say his lines and get back home. I was shocked seeing his smug grin when his lawyer wins a point in court. I wanted to tell him this isn’t a tennis match.... full review
Thumbs down, by Krish Sripada, Desi Martini : ...The only selling point of the movie is the truth about Azhar, given the man himself was promoting the movie. The truth is provided subtly and you may not really like the way it was handled or justified. Important episodes like Cronje's never gets touched. The worst part about the movie is the kind of actors picked to play other cricketers - almost laughable. Avoid!... full review
Thumbs down, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...Director Tony D'Souza's Azhar is a vanilla look at a story that could've been both riveting and hard hitting. In stead of presenting Mohammed Azharuddin as a man of many contradictions and supreme talent, it portrays him as a victim and stoic person. In a classic example of bad taste, the film also casts moral aspersions on other cricketers but projects Azhar as a righteous hero. It's the oldest trick in the book to gain sympathy. Sadly, it's just not good enough. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...That’s the gist of the story then. Unfortunately the manner in which it is put across on screen is entirely confusing. The timeline shifts back and forth in it’s attempt to derive complexity. But the hasty shifts don’t reveal anything new or interesting. There is no depth to the storyline and the entire set-up is weak and hackneyed. The dialogues sound pompous and bombastic, the performances are unrealistic and the narrative gets bogged down by it’s own central conceit. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Zehra Abbas , fullhyd.com : ...Mohammad Azharuddin had some glorious moments on the pitch, and his fans, or any cricket fan for that matter, will expect, no demand, that the match scenes allow us to experience a rush of adrenaline, goose bumps and patriotism all in equal measure. And therein lies the tragedy of Azhar - it fails to give us even that thrill. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Divya Pal, IBN Live : ...Viewers would have loved the film and found Hashmi’s inning as the former captain a lot more interesting only if the director hadn’t tried too hard to glorify Azhar as an underdog. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Scenes like these work because they riff on the Azhar we once knew. But the film isn’t interested in bringing him down to our level—it wants to raise him back to where he used to be... full review
Thumbs down, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...It is quite unfortunate that the makers of the film lacked the courage to show what actually happened and decided to go ahead with a PR exercise to benefit Mohammad Azharuddin, so if you wanted to watch the film to gain some insight into the life of Azhar, you are advised to avoid this one. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...As a work of fan-fiction, Azhar is a mostly watchable film with a solid lead, but falls far short of being either entertaining, insightful, or worthy of recommendation. Hashmi and D'Souza try hard, and their effort shows. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...In the name of acting you have Emraan being stiff, staring deep into the camera, looking far from his comfortable self. Prachi and Nargis weep buckets when they are not being coy. Nargis does it most inelegantly. If that wasn’t all there is also Kunaal Roy Kapur as Azhar’s lawyer. As yet another stereotype of the South Indian in Bollywood, he irritates to the hilt. So does the film. ... full review
Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.
Not Interested in Watching, by Anuj
Not Interested in Watching, by Fan
Not Interested in Watching, by TimELiebe : Sounds highly missable
Yay! Thumbs Up, by alltracklyrics.com : Very good movie
Yay! Thumbs Up, by basit Ansari : Amazing movie
Yay! Thumbs Up, by Murtaza Ali : An engaging multi-genre film about cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin
Yay! Thumbs Up, by pendujatt
Yay! Thumbs Up, by Santosh pradhan
Yay! Thumbs Up, by steffi
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.