Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Arbaz Khan, Seema Biswas, Nikitin Dheer, Amy Jackson
Director: Sohail Khan
After having wowed us with some superlative performances, some good actors are always willing to take chances and another swing at big-screen stardom. Do they succeed? While a few of them (like Irrfan Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Tabu) do merrily cross over to give us heartwarming films, many struggle hard in the rough with bad scripts. Therefore, like most others, Nawazuddin Siddiqui attempts to do a mainstream Freaky Ali while trying to balance out his penchant for the serious and the light-hearted with ease. His getting to play the lead is definitely a smart move on the part of the producers, since as an actor, he is obviously talented and famous enough to stir up interest, but, perhaps, not immediately identifiable with any role. He plays Ali, a raw but determined man who becomes an accidental sporting hero. He sells underwear in Mumbai, trying his best to woo customers even when few fall for his overenthusiastic sales pitch.
When things don’t work out one day, he gets an offer from his friend Maqsood (Arbaaz Khan) to work as a debt-collector for Danger Bhai (Nikitin Dheer). He gladly accepts it, and while on an assignment one day, he also discovers by chance that his wildly inaccurate cricketing style — he plays cricket with the street kids in his locality — can be converted into an incredibly powerful golf swing. Marvelling at his hitherto unknown talent — namely, being able to clout a golf ball some 400 yards — Ali decides to give the game his all. But can a debt-collector become a golfing sensation?
Within no time, his unusual gift of playing golf turns out to be unique, as soon, he gets to learn the basics and hone his talent under the tutelage of a professional caddie Kishan Lal (Asif Basra). On the golf course, he also falls for Megha (Amy Jackson) and gets challenged by the reigning golf champion (Jas Arora). In a short span, Ali gets so inspired by the pleasant turn of events that he decides to turn professional. Since every hero needs a nemesis, Ali finds his in the golf star who is not only arrogant, but is a nasty insecure man too, who’ll do anything to foil Ali — even go to the extent of hitting him on his arm just before the final tournament.
Despite all this, one doesn’t need to be a film scholar to know who comes out ahead. But here, the film goes downhill. After a sudden flurry of events that give the screenwriters to cram the film with instances of best friend (Khan) backstabbing Ali; or turning mean, selfish and greedy tournament; Ali’s beating all opponents, and thus, becoming famous; Megha going all out to support him; Ali’s entire neighbourhood comprising Hindus and Muslims praying for his win at the final golf tournament et al. Sohail Khan is credited with the story although the film has clearly been adapted from Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore. Perhaps, Khan couldn’t figure out whether to stick to a comedy or make a feel-good sports film, for one wonders midway, where the film is headed.
Among the cast, there is Seema Biswas too playing Ali’s mother, but gets reduced to an almost inconsequential character. The film would have been a goofy sports film had Nawaz’s comic skills worked better; or had there been a plausible plot, and not a silly storyline. There’s a half-baked love interest that goes on like a Megha’s fascination for Ali, though nothing is explained about her sudden interest in him. Writing suffers the most in this lacklustre film.
Ali’s training looks most unconvincing as mere talent is shown winning grand titles without much effort. There may not be any toilet humour that has become the staple of many similar films; some intelligent writing would have been a lot funnier. Despite every flaw, if the film rises a little above mediocrity, it’s all thanks to Nawaz’s straight-faced deadpan attempts at comedy. He makes the most out of a stock situation, and, at times, even manages to create a few good laughs too. But, if he chose to do the film only because he gets to play the protagonist in a mainstream film, it’s an error of judgment on his part!
The writer is a film critic and has been reviewing films for over 15 years. He also writes on music, art and culture, and other human interest stories....