LAHORE brings to fore the tension any cricket match held, in the years gone by, between arch rivals India and Pakistan whenever they crossed swords, in any part in the world. It's exciting, has more twists than any of the IPL matches seen so far, and is topped by a nail-biting finish by debutante director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan. LAHORE is about kickboxing and the rivalries between the two nations in particular.
Long after you have left the theatre, you take home the excitement, tension and the goodwill message from the final Goodwill Tournament held in Lahore, just months after a tragedy involving players between the two nations in the tournament in Kuala Lumpur. LAHORE mixes politics with sport, passion with a fierce pride to win - at all costs, and a single-minded focus to annihilate the opponent. It's a sports film you would not want to miss.
It does not boast of a huge star cast but the casting won't disappoint you. Newcomer Aanaahad has a tailor-made role that is sure to get him rave reviews. A super debut with a killer kick. He has the brawns and the skills required to provide Bollywood with a classic action hero, as well as the soft skills required to romance. Shraddha Das who plays a Pakistani sports psychologist is first-rate. Shraddha Nigam as the bubbly girl who encourages her fiance Sushant Singh as he kick-boxes his way to glory is controlled. Sabyasachi Chakravarthy as the tough as nails Pakistani coach is a powerful character you would love to hate. Farooq Sheikh as the genial Indian coach (in sharp contrast to his Pakistani counterpart) who deflects political interference in the selection process with subtle help from the media is an endearing character. Sushant Singh, Mukesh Rishi, Kelly Dorji and Aashish Vidyarthi all pitch in with performances that compliment the script. Nafisa Ali, who plays the mother, stands out for her grace, elegance and performance.
Veerendra Singh (Aanahad) is a budding cricketer who is set to break into the National team. His brother Dheerendra (Sushant Singh) is an established kick-boxer who catches the eye of the Indian Kick-boxing Federation with his skills. At one point, Veerendra, too, played the sport but gave it up because he felt it did no justice to sport. The relationship between the two brothers is established with Dheeru's girlfriend Neela (Shraddha Nigam). The trio paint the town red with their camaraderie. Dheeru, after knocking out five times National Champion Gajanan (Kelly Dorji) is selected to represent India at Kuala Lumpur. That's where the story takes an unexpected turn.
Veeru is forced to shun cricket, get back into the ring, and take the flight to Pakistan along with the Indian delegation. It's a best-of-five match and it all boils down to the last bout. What does Veeru have in mind? Why did he board the flight to Lahore? All this makes for an exciting and gripping finale.
What adds zing to the proceedings on screen are the background score by Wayne Sharp, cinematography by Neelabh Kaul and Tony Ching Siu Tung's sports choreography and action. First rate.
What would have added more power to the script would have been an intense two-minute clip showing Veeru getting fit for kickboxing action of the highest order. That apart, LAHORE, like I mentioned, will bring back fond memories of the tension matches between the two nations held.
Don't be surprised if your mind races back to seeing Javed Miandad whacking Chetan Sharma for that last-ball six in 1986!