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'Saala Khadoos' Review: Guts n glory, but half-baked!

'Saala Khadoos' Review: Guts n glory, but half-baked!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Thursday 28 January 2016

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Movie Title

Saala Khadoos

Director

Sudha Kongara Prasad

Star Cast

R. Madhavan, Ritika Singh, Mumtaz Sorcar, Nassar

Saala Khadoos - what an interesting title! Sadly, the film, that had a lot of potential, falls short. It has the guts, but not enough. It has the idea, but chooses to follow the predictable path. And the glory too is half-hearted, as the story demanded a far braver approach, not a cop-out.

Adi (Madhavan), disgruntled boxing coach of the women's boxing team, uses filthy language and yawns openly when a match doesn't interest him. Wearing stylishly disheveled hair and a constant frown, Adi becomes a victim of administrative politics and is transferred to Chennai.

Not one to be discouraged, Adi begins hunting for talent for his new team. He meets local fish-seller Madhi (Ritika Singh) and is impressed by her fearless aggression. Seeing a potential champion in her, he begins to train her diligently.

But then, matters of the heart and vested interests get in the way, and we trail Madhi's journey as she deals with these odds.

The film's story is simple, even predictable. We've seen the infamous coach take a women's team under his wing, and come out trumps in Chak De! India. We've seen a committed athlete having to deal with administration corruption in Mary Kom. This, then, appears to be a watered-down version.

While Chak De! India and Mary Kom did justice to their characters, here, the film is almost apologetic for Madhi's ambition and aggression. We are taken in by this unconventional character's zest; complete with her carelessly put together clothes and a necklace held with a safety pin.

However, instead of celebrating her feistiness, the film prefers to show her as an air-headed, emotionally frail girl who falls for her coach, and cannot fight in the ring without his support. The film often shows female athletes as being bad losers and sobbing. And the coach actually says at one point, "Kya problem hai tum ladkiyon ki?" (What is the problem with you girls?) By saying this, the film does female athletes a huge disservice, for it immediately disregards their professionalism and passion for the sport.

Also the film is obsessed with sexual harassment issue. Adi is accused of sexual harassment. The creepy head of department actually indulges in a casting couch of sorts. And annoyingly, as if a platonic coach-student relationship were impossible, every other dialogue has someone taunting Adi and Madhi on sleeping with each other.

It's great that writer-director Sudha Kongara chose a unique story, but one wishes the treatment wasn't so predictable. It has almost become a given for sports films to have an underdog who wins, the disgruntled coach who finds redemption, the corrupt administrative forces, and unsupportive parents who finally have a turnaround and so on. This film ticks all these boxes. One really yearns for a single scene that wasn't about gender dynamics, beating hearts, or sexual harassment, and actually about the sport. The boxing matches are very few, and they could have been more charged and dynamic. Despite being emotionally invested in Madhi's journey, we're never quite at the edge of our seat when Madhi is in the ring.

The film works to an extent due to the dedicated performances. Madhavan, with a beefed-up body, adds heart to his role of a misunderstood coach who only means well. Ritika Singh makes an impressive debut with her uninhibited performance. The supporting cast does exceedingly well.

The film does have its share of endearing moments. One of them is a poster saying 'Harty Welcome' when Adi arrives in Chennai. One wishes the film had other such insights that made it different from the rest. Sadly, the film chooses to walk the predictable path, instead of carving its own.

Rating: 3 stars

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