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Stand By review: Simplistic but relevant!

Stand By review: Simplistic but relevant!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Thursday 25 August 2011

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Movie Title

Stand By

Director

Sanjay Surkar

Star Cast

Sachin Khedekar, Dalip Tahil, Avtar Gill, Nagesh Bhonsle, Siddharth Kher

The film's finale, which has prominent sport personalities ruing the state of sports in newspaper articles - the lack of transparency in team selection, political interference, and lack of resources - make you understand why an otherwise regular film is important.

We track the sad state of sports in the country in both overt and subtle ways. In the more forthright manner, you have corrupt middlemen who tamper with the selection. More covertly, you have a minister handling the portfolio who doesn't know much about the sport itself - specifically the meaning of a stand by player.

So a Mr Moneybags (Dalip Tahil) wants to get his spoilt son Shekhar (Siddharth Kher) on the national team. The boy's hardly an ace player, but that's where the money and politics come into play. I'll agree with you if you call the premise too simplistic, but it's an effective onscreen tool to get the point across.

Then there is the region issue with each member of the committee insisting on more players from the state they represent, talent and capability be damned. The interesting symbol of chess, nicely used in a song with the players as the chess pieces, drives home the point effectively.

Enter the contrasting upright character of a coach (Manish Choudhary) and the table is set. Moneybags' son is friends with a promising player, Rahul (Adinath Kothare), who has been trained by his father since childhood. The father, a former player, is furiously ambitious for his son, and wants him to go national.

The chawl where he lives, often erupts into a spontaneous celebration, when he wins a local match. Rahul and his father (Sachin Khedekar) are now on tenterhooks as the national team is to be announced. Shekhar is also in the running, thanks to his father's contacts.

But when one friend is announced as the Captain, and the other as a Stand By, the dynamic of their friendship changes.

Director Sanjay Surkar makes an interesting film about the lack of sportsmanship in sports. It's as much a tale of corruption, as it is a tale of friendship in the face of competition.

The cast does well. Adinath Kothare (Rahul) and Siddharth Kher (Shekhar) give very earnest, convincing performances. The supporting cast does very well, though one wishes the conniving baddies weren't made to do the evil laugh.

Where the film falters is the execution. The narrative often becomes repetitive as the superfluous portions are not edited out. In a match, for example, we continuously see the scores between Bengal and Maharashtra, with each player's performance.

Then there are some improbable portions - the coach lecturing the powerful politician is a bit much, as is the unveiled offer of bribes by the corrupt sport officials.

With an item song and a murder thrown in the second-half, the film is further diluted. The film may not be as pacy and cool as Chak De! India, but it has several plusses.

But as mentioned, the finale reminds us of the film's message. Headlines in newspapers show us the disgruntlement of our talented athletes.

As the film's headline says, even if a tad simplistically, 'Play the game. Don't play with the game.'

Rating: 2.5 stars

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