AZHAR is not a biopic or actual representation of Mohammed Azharuddin or any of the characters (read cricketers) depicted in the film. This is for entertainment purpose only. A disclaimer like that coming on screen right before the movie starts knocks off all expectations one has as a viewer. So, will we get some facts to chew upon? Or like the various committee reports this too will be another exercise in futility? The disclaimer said it all!
But yes, since this is purely entertainment, I must admit that AZHAR is entertaining in bits. Tony D'Souza manages to get your attention at most times and at other times he is busy sewing up a 'Bollywood entertainer' which shows one aspect of match-fixing during the court trial, and then showing the other aspect just as the judge delivers his verdict. So was 'that' match fixed or not? Did Azhar take the alleged Rs 1 crore from bookie M K Sharma or not? And did India win or lose 'that' match?
The film could have been boldly told, which would have made it a rage. But alas! Being bold would have been opening another can of worms! Balaji Films gave us a cracker of a film in THE DIRTY PICTURE
, a biopic on south actress Silk Smitha. How I wish they had the chutzpah to load AZHAR with some hard-hitting facts. Nevertheless, AZHAR is a good one time watch if ever you were a fan of the wristy Hyderabadi.
Watch it for Naureen played by Prachi Desai. She essays a good portrayal of the wife wronged. A quiet, unassuming, beautiful character; Prachi does full justice to Naureen. Sangeeta (played by Nargis Fakhri) is introduced in a typical 'Bollywood manner' and the way the Boys (read cricketers) are shown ogling at the women at a poolside in England is akin to schoolboys out on a picnic.
For me, watching the woman wronged was the highlight of the movie. Tony could have stressed on this aspect by showing us Naureen walking away from Azhar's home to start life anew. Azhar's life was not just about 'match-fixing'!
Lots of instances of characterization of Azhar are missing in the movie. His arrogance hardly comes across as he is shown as this gentleman cricketer who could do no wrong. There's no focus on the impact Sangeeta had on the lives of his kids and how he coped during the time when everybody shunned him.
Apart from Naureen, the only other heart-warming portion is the part when he is shown with his grandfather. Kunal Roy Kapoor who plays Azhar's childhood friend who takes up his case as a lawyer is more a caricature. There's no depth to his character, just mannerisms with 'outward' acting.
Now for Emraan Hashmi: Does he do justice to the role? I would say yes, because I was looking for Azhar in Emraan and although it was Emraan on screen, I could sense a shadow of Azhar over his personality. That's a huge plus for the actor.
The movie plays out mostly in the courtroom with flashbacks on Azhar's life and on the cricketing field. There's more that could have been done with such a 'larger than life cricketing character'. Towards the end, we as the viewer are asked to judge whether Azhar was right or wrong.
How can we? We are given no facts!
In the movie, we are shown clippings of the late South African skipper Hansie Cronje saying Azhar introduced him to the bookie. We all know how Hansie came clean before his death! He admitted his lies before the Kings Commission and spoke of his shame and humiliation. He also begged for the reinstatement as players of his teammates Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams.
But that is another story, for another biopic. Hopefully, if it does come about, it would not be just entertainment!