It happens to be a welcome First Friday for a couple of debutant filmmakers in Bollywood. Yup! If Zoya Akhtar does it with 'Luck By Chance', Ajithpal Mangal takes on with 'Victory'. Perhaps, film 'n' cricket buffs were elated picking on 'Lagaan' and 'Iqbal'. These flicks had much more about the emotional side touching the poignant theme of unity and integrity. Well, real biggies on cricket field teaming up for 'Victory' got our adrenalines shot up expecting a much greater show. Unfortunately, the film doesn't gratify to audiences' interest in many vistas.
In fact, a film made on 'Cricket' has the clichéd formula of protagonist peaking with triumph as there aren't any other options. 'A Hero Must-Win' factor always persists in any sports-based films and 'Victory' isn't elision. No fault in the script penned; but the lengthy duration of 155 minutes of 'Rise of the Phoenix' story does get everyone annoyed with more fidgetiness.
Ok! In India, cricket is much more than just a game; it is a passion, an obsession, a religion! Millions of youngsters, in all the corners of the country dream of playing for India! A dream which incredibly only one in every 100 million realizes.
'Victory' is the story of a father, Ram Shekhawat (Anupam Kher), who saw such an impossible dream for his son! This is also the heroic story of his son Vijay Shekhawat (Harman Baweja). Hailing from the small town of Jaisalmer, Vijay Shekhawat becomes India's latest world-class batting sensation and is catapulted to superstardom!
But it is the glamour and the glitter of this very demigod status that makes the young, vulnerable small-town boy Vijay stray from his true vocation of cricket. Unfortunately this leads to a loss of focus and to a miserable drop in his performance. But by the time Vijay realizes the error of his ways, it is too late and he finds himself thrown out of the Indian cricket team because of disciplinary reasons. Suddenly the hero of the cricket crazy India becomes a villain in everyone's eyes. His father Ram Shekhawat's dreams are shattered and suffer a paralytic stroke.
This tragedy awakens Vijay's conscience and sense of honor. He wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his father and every Indian. Against great odds, he once again makes it back to the Indian team and gets to play in the finals of the Champion's trophy against Australia where he plays a stellar role in enabling India to win the Trophy. In the emotionally moving final, in spite of being hospitalized mid-innings because of an injury, Vijay returns to bat, risking permanent injury, when India are nine down, to pull off an impossible victory against the world champion, Ricky Ponting's Australia.
In this match Vijay Shekhawat fulfils his father's dreams and enters the pantheon of Indian cricket.
Harman Baweja looks amateurish performing as a cricketer on the grounds. It doesn't matter about his batting skills, but on many parts he fails to emote as an aggressive guy or an elated one. Sweating in liters and rolling eyes-all over doesn't offer a tensed look. Perhaps, watching at least couple of real matches could've got him the psychological feel of emotions displayed on the grounds. Of course, even in most of the sequences outside the field, he isn't up with finesse. Amrita Rao has nothing big to spell apart from supporting the hero and appearing in songs. Gulshan Grover does justice to his role, with this one the farthest distance away from his previous one 'Karzzz'. A flawless performance by Anupam Kher.
Getting on with Debutant Ajithpal Mangal; dealing with a complicated theme with real life characters makes his deserve a grand round of applause. But, the director doesn't accomplish his directorial task so effectively. Especially, his sluggish screenplay in the latter half offers nothing more than boredom to the audiences. Sometimes you yawn and are restless and the scenario seems to be quite different during penultimate scenes as he makes a good comeback with the climax. But every best effort gets weakened due to the irksome screenplay. Not alone Ajithpal, Kannan Iyer too needs to be blamed for it.
Anu Malik doesn't come up with an extraordinary musical on both the songs as well as the background score. Apart from a couple of songs, 'Balla Utha' and 'Money Money', nothing is quite worthy heeding. Cinematography and editing, to a certain extent is commendable, but only a few computer generated works are quite laudable.
On the whole, 'Victory' could have made it bigger on the screens if the entire team had worked on an effective preproduction. Apart from this, it's a film worth watching for the different attempt by this debut filmmaker. Though loaded with more favorite cricketers on the screen, the film lacks solidity on many quotients.
Verdict: Merely a mediocre.
Rating : **