|Harman Baweja, Amrita Rao, Anupam Kher, Gulshan Grover, International Cricketers|
In Victory, we trail the life of Jaisalmer boy Vijay Shekhawat (Harman Baweja), a super-talented player, disillusioned at not being selected for the Ranji team yet again. On realising that important contacts and not ability is the criterion for selection, he gives up on cricket, but is encouraged back by his steadfast father (Anupam Kher, constantly sobbing).
Vijay gives himself one last chance; and with nothing to lose, directly confronts Team India’s chief coach (Dalip Tahil), who, impressed with his work, incorporates him into the Ranji team immediately. From there on, before he knows it, Vijay is playing for the Indian team alongside his idols, winning fame and money a bit too soon.
He is egged on by his manager Andy Singh (Gulshan Grover) to concentrate on making money through endorsements etc. Vijay, who once said that the cricket field was his temple, misses practice, parties hard and steadily loses his grip on the game.
Still confident of his image among people, he swallows more than he can chew and lands up in big trouble. The country that elevated him to the status of a demigod is enraged and torches his house in Jaisalmer landing his father in the hospital.
Girlfriend Nandu (Amrita Rao in yet another self-sacrificing, simpering role with zero personal ambition or agenda, dividing her time between the temple and the hospital) nurses his father back to normalcy and tries to initiate a truce between the two.
For a while, you do feel for the protagonist who despite talent, is frustrated at the lack of opportunity. Again, you empathise with the young man who gets swayed by sudden success, despite himself.
But somewhere down the road, the story gets too predictable for the interest to hold. It’s not that the small town boy making it big tale is implausible; we have many such real-life stories in sport stars like Yuvvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It's just that we’ve seen several redemption stories on film and need a new perspective to make it watchable again (Fashion, for example, put a fresh spin on the back-on one’s-feet tale).
The film is technically good. Cinematography by Vikas Shivraman (Dhoom: 2) is excellent and songs by Anu Malik are average.
Harman Baweja is a fair actor, perfectly capable of holding the film on his own; it's just so the competition in the leading man category at the moment is fierce.
Fantastic faces and bodies are coming in with equally impressive talent and screen presence. In this arena, only the best can survive, and it's too early to figure out if Baweja falls in that category.
Debut director Ajitpal Mangat seems to have incorporated all elements of what is commonly perceived to be agreeable to the audience's taste: an underdog finally making it, the emotional melodrama, and the ending moment of triumph.
Yes, the film does throw up some immersing moments, but it's nothing we haven’t seen already.
Verdict: Two stars