Patriotic sports films, like most international team sports, have the ability to inspire and unite large numbers. The riveting nature of the subject makes a large impact on the viewer. Reema Kagti’s “Gold” definitely makes an impact but falls short of being a great patriotic sports film aka “Lagaan”, “Chak De India”, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” and “Dangal” to name a few.
In this post, I’ll list out what I enjoyed and what I didn’t, in order to give you a better idea of my personal opinion.
The movie is based on the 1948 Olympic Games held in London, after a gap of 12 years. India had won three consecutive gold medals for Field Hockey in the Olympics from 1928-1936, under the British flag. Many hurdles had to be crossed to select a fresh team from Independent India, to avenge the British rule by winning a gold medal in their own right.
The team is assembled by a Bengali manager, Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar), who treads great lengths to ensure success. He’s aided by Samrat (Kunal Kapoor), a legendary ex-hockey player and Olympian, and Mr. Wadia, the patron of the team. At every step, he’s thwarted by a wily politico named Mr. Mehta for his own reasons.
A sizeable sub-plot focuses on two of the promising players in the team, Raghubir Pratap Singh (Amit Sadh) and Himmat Singh (Sunny Kaushal), with their personal journeys and frustrations.
Picture courtesy: http://www.koimoi.com
WHAT I LIKED:
- The subject is very interesting. Hockey is a fast-paced and skilful game. Though cricket currently dominates the Indian conscience, hockey is our national game for a reason!
- The actors have done a good job at their individual roles. Akshay Kumar plays an oft- inebriated Bengali with a passion for sport, quite well. The performances of Kunal Kapoor, Vineet Kumar Singh (who plays Pakistani hockey captain Imtiaz Shah), Amit Sadh, and Mouni Roy (Tapan Das’ wife) are commendable. Sunny Kaushal shows great promise.
- The climax is well-orchestrated. The 2 hour 50 minute film tends to drag with multiple unnecessary sub-plots, but the gripping climax makes up for it.
- The patriotism served in the movie strikes the right chord, without being overarching or fundamentalist in any manner.
- The period costumes, interiors and architecture are charming and make an interesting and authentic backdrop.
- The songs are tuneful, especially the few sporty inspirational numbers.
WHAT I DISLIKED:
- The film is more a glorification of the (perhaps fictional) manager of the team, and less about the magnificent sporting victory of India as an independent nation, on an international level. I felt that Tapan Das was an entirely unnecessary character. If the idea was to give a juicy role to Kumar, who is a powerhouse of talent, it could’ve been as ex-Olympian and coach or as the team’s patron, Mr. Wadia. He would’ve made the same impact without the fripperies.
- Giving the most importance to Kumar’s character resulted in many unnecessary plots and sub-stories, as well as out-of-place, cringe-worthy dance numbers. His constant tussle with Mr. Mehta was especially annoying.
- The game of hockey and character-building of its players wasn’t accorded enough importance in a film marketed as a sports film.
- The cinematography and special effects were quite visible to the eye (unusual in this age of CGI excellence) and distracted from the story.
- A couple of players looked too old for their roles. Though Amit Sadh and Vineet Kumar Singh performed well, they didn’t quite fit the bill of young hockey players.
- As mentioned above, the movie gets boring in places, which certainly wouldn’t have happened had the game been given more prominence.
- The actors sometimes lacked chemistry amongst themselves which took away the depth and poignancy from sensitive story-lines. For example- the scenes of partition and violence seemed “arranged” and weren’t emotionally moving in the least.
Kagti has done a good job of presenting patriotic fervor through an important historical sporting incident. I wish she’d resisted the urge to glamourize and Bollywood-ize the film through lewd item numbers, silly ego battles and glossy romances. It had the potential to be a great patriotic sporting film like those listed in the introduction above, but it missed that mark.
However, I did enjoy the film and felt quite proud of my nation’s achievements. I would recommend it as worth watching.
Film Rating: 3.5/5
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