Baichung Bhutia, India's soccer star, has today called it quits after an illustrious career spanning 16 years. And his only desire is to live to see the day India participates in the Soccer World Cup. 'I will take my children to see the matches whenever and wherever it happens,' he is quoted to have said. This is exactly one of the sentiments shared by the character that plays the coach of the Indian Soccer team in the movie STAND BY. The coach who has to spend more time attending to scheming politicians than his wards, tells the President of the Indian Football Federation (who basically is a politician who knows not what soccer is) that unless they get politics out of the sport, India will always be a STAND BY, watching World Cup matches from the sidelines.
That is the core message of director Sanjay Surkar's film. Politics has always been the bane of Indian sport and this has been highlighted in the media time and again. The rich try to influence team selection, while those in power barter for deals. STAND BY is one such story where a business tycoon wants to see his son in the playing XI at any cost. Even at the cost of his son's best friend, who too is a soccer player. Even though his son is the captain of the State team, he is a standby in the Indian squad. This insult is too much to bear for father and son.
While the issue dealt with is worthwhile, the manner in which Surkar - a first time Bollywood director, but a respected name in Marathi cinema - has attacked the plot lacks punch. This has mainly to do with the selection of the 'team'. Only Manish Chaudhary who plays the coach and the cop who makes a brief appearance give a lasting impression. Marathi actor Adinath Kothare too shines with his earnest performance. But the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Siddharth Kher who was very impressive in TEEN PATTI last year is surprisingly off the mark. For Avtaar Gill, Sachin Khedekar and Dalip Tahil, this ought to be the most tiring performance.
The songs looked forced and don't go with the flow of the screenplay and it is very difficult to pull off a sports film if technology is not used to the maximum. One of the reasons why CHAK DE worked in the first place was because of their terrific presentation of the hockey matches. It gave one a life-like feel. That's where the Arshad Warsi-John Abraham starrer DHANA DHAN GOAL too faltered.
Surkar chose a fine subject which had tremendous potential to hit the right chord with the audience. But 'team' selection let him down coupled with lack of use of advanced technology.