Game, Set, Match
Striker sets out to achieve a lot in its limited canvas of 2 hours and 7 minutes. It shuffles through two different timelines – the Bombay of the 80s and then the infamous ‘December 1992’. Siddharth as Surya is a Bombay bred n brought up lad, who moved to Malvani in his childhood along with his elder brother, sister Devi and parents [ Rajendra Gupta ‘member Chandrakanta’s Pt. Jagannath and Seema ‘Bandit Queen’ Biswas ]. Life in the underbelly is a constant struggle. And if Slumdog Millionaire tried to higlight it in a way what the critics call it as ‘poverty porn’, Striker does it in excruciating details. From the dark bylanes to the darker money churning Seths, the hustle and bustle of the Local train to even the brown and battered vests, Striker strikes the right chords. After all it’s a game. And it suceeds in achieving what it set out for, more or less.
Before I talk about the film, let me emphasise on this point that this is not a sports movie of an underdog’s triumph. Although there is a major chunk of the movie spent in dark rooms with lamp shades glowing over Carrom boards, this movie is more about Surya as the Striker, one who suffers at every stage and struggles through each and every point of his life- from having a failed love life to getting fooled by a fake Dubai transportation gang [ aptly named Gul Gulshan Gulfam – awesome connection – remember the 80s TV show on DD with Parikshit Sahni on Kashmiri Houseboats on Dal Lake..those were the days..sigh!] Surya grows up learning Carrom from his elder brother, and in different situations has to come back to the game. The game scenes are a bit repetitive, but coupled with the background score, it does succeed in keeping the tension alive. But more than anything which keeps the movie rolling is its eye for detail. And the filmmaker Chandan Arora deserves credit for it.
From chuckle worthy references of Govinda-Kimi Katkar as Superman-Spiderwoman in Dariya Dil, to the unapologetic mumbaiya language, and even references to Rajeev Gandhi – Striker has enough room for us all to chew upon. And similar to Kaminey, the awesomeness here is in the details [ I know I know, I am chewing the cud a bit too much ]. The fascination with Dubai for a fast-route to prosperity, absense of mobiles, and even Carrom as a game not limited to juice-peevanu Tikras is all reminiscient of the 80s and early 90s. Tell me, who plays Carrom anymore in the age of post Cricket match-fixing and Football betting. And of course, references to the immortal Sholay always wins extra brownie points from me 🙂
Aditya Pancholi’s scarfaced Jaleel Bhai is a bit confusing. The man has no sense of profit n loss. He is a bit of a maniac himself betting left, right and centre. C’mon dude, even the 8 year old sitting in a cinema hall in Malvani right now knows that the hero will win. So, don’t mess with him. Anupam Sir is quite competent in his limited role. Nothing bad about it, but neither overpowering – still, no complaints.
Sidhharth as Surya gives a credible performance. He emotes effortlessly, and his frustration and angst comes across easily. And it is very easy to take pity on such a character who suffers through a lot. Unlike Dev Patel’s Jamal, Surya is not focussed about achieving something. All the events in his life are driven by the circumstances that surround him. And tbh, it is a fresh change to see Bollywood heroes not saving the world before and after shower. Heck, in this movie, the hero does not even shower, sleeps in a boat. Although I have a huge problem with the rape attempt and his adopted method to undo the harm by marrying her. The problem is with the girl agreeing to get married to him. Perhaps she did like him before to agree to it. Anywho, Surya even admits that his climactic act wasn’t heroic at all. And then he uses a big ass iron striker .. so much for symbolism 😛 Jeeyo Raja!!!
Vidya as Siddhart’s elder sister Devi is a breeze to watch. Chak De Vidya 🙂
Of course, this review is incomplete without mentioning the star of the movie – Ankur Vikal as Zaid [ we saw him last as Mamman in Slumdog ]. This man was born to do this role. His body language, the gleam in his drugged eyes, and absolutely high grin – all adds up to a memorable performance. His colorful range of shirts, uncombed, uncut hair and maniac behaviour is second to none. I know Bhope Bhau didn’t win any awards. But if Zaid doesn’t win anything next year, I’ll disown all them awards.
To sum it up, Striker is a win win for me. I cannot say that this is a must watch or not [its for you to decide], but for cinephiles who get a bit high by picking up the clues scene by scene, this is quite an unmissable one. And I know, you are on that seekbar yourself on Youtube. Cheers!
P.S. I am still waving as I hit this publish button, discussing the movie in real time while my fellow bloggers are watching the movie. Awesome #strikerwatchalong. More updates on the wave in an upcoming post.