Nagesh Kukunoor should be a happy man now as 'Iqbal' bridges a gap between so called offbeat films and commercial cinema. The man associated with niche movies like Hyderabad Blues, Rockford, Bollywood Calling and 3 Deewarein gets the biggest release of his career, courtesy some strong backing by Subhash Ghai, the producer, who has left no stone unturned to make the movie reach out to its target audience. And it has to be admitted that it has everything for those who want to watch a different story told in a simple yet highly entertaining manner. This is where Iqbal scores and becomes highly commercial viable cinema too!
Iqbal is a simple story about a deaf and mute 18 year old boy-turning-into-man Iqbal [Shreyas Talpade], who has just one dream since his childhood - to wear a national cap as an Indian cricketer one day. But there are number of hurdles in this dream to be fulfilled. His humble background [a small village called Kolipad], an average household [his father (Yateen Karyekar) is a simple man who is happy with his farming and wants him to follow his footsteps], his physical handicap and the biggest of all, lack of any formal coaching.
In this dream of his, he is supported by his doting sister Khatija [Shweta Prasad] and mother [Pratiksha Lonkar] who leave no stone unturned to help him realize his dream. While Shweta is her brother's communication channel with the rest of the world, his mother protects him every time his father senses of anything related to cricket.
After some random practice on his own, he is finally given a chance to join the nearby cricket academy run by a veteran coach [pirish Karnad]. This is where he learns some finer points of cricket only to be asked to leave due to a mishap with the blue eyed batsman who is academy's favorite. Iqbal begs, pleads and tries to convince the coach but to no avail.
Just when he feels distraught and starts loosing all hopes, he realizes that a village drunkard Mohit [Naseeruddin Shah] could help him with bowling coaching as he was an ex-cricketer himself. After some persuasion, Mohit agrees to coach Iqbal and this is where the drama in the story begins. Its no easy going for Iqbal as he has to battle a number of factors - first and foremost making Mohit leave his drinking habits, then going away from his father's wishes, then joining the Ranji team [even without playing for a district or a club level match] to fighting dirty politics revolving around selection for the Indian cricket team.
How Iqbal faces all the challenges with the support of Mohit, Khatija and his mother forms the crux of the movie. But an underlining message of the movie is clear - it's not about a budding cricketer who rises to be a superstar! It's more about a man on street who wins on sheer will power with the support of his near and dear ones, regardless of any field or profession. An ultimate triumph of human sprit!
Another good factor about the movie is that never once is the character of Iqbal shown to be helpless and dependant on others for his well being. You never feel sorry for the character inspite of his physical handicap and take him as just another normal human being. Writer-director Kukunoor has taken special care to have audience sympathize with the situation the character is in, rather than the character himself, hence making it different from the likes of 'Black' and 'Main Aisa Hi Hoon'.
The movie isn't devoid of light moments as well. All the scenes featuring Iqbal's sister and mom bring a smile on the face, especially the ones involving Khatija's interaction with Mohit [she hates his drinking problem while Mohit is constantly afraid of her taunts] and when mother comes face to face with Mohit for the first time [where she politely yet sternly tells Mohit to better make Iqbal an international character el