Director: Reema Kagti
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Amit Sadh, Kunal Kapoor, Sunny Kaushal, Vineet Kumar Singh and others
Runtime: 153 minutes
After ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’ and ‘Talaash: The Answer Lies Within’, not many would’ve expected an out-and-out commercial film from Reema Kagti. However, considering Akshay Kumar’s recent line-up of films, another venture boosting his ‘Bharat Kumar’ moniker was surely on the cards. Irrespective of their contrasting turns with this Excel Entertainment production, the duo delivers an impressive and emotion-packed sports drama.
Tapan Das (Akshay) is Junior Manager of the Indian hockey team that is gearing up for the Olympics final against Germany in Berlin in 1936. He fires up the boys including captain and star player Samrat (Kunal Kapoor)and Imtiaz (Vineet Kumar Singh) with his half-time pep talk by showing them a banned tricolour which he’s hid inside his jacket. The team responds in style and trash the hosts 8-1, but Tapan isn’t happy as the winners went by the name ‘British India.’
As World War II forces cancellation of two Olympics, he turns alcoholic and is sacked for corruption, and is removed from jobs in football and wrestling, and is literally on the streets. His wife Monobina (Mouni Roy) is equally frustrated with him and abuses him left, right and centre.
But the imminent Independence and announcement of Olympics in 1948 offers him a fresh lease of life and the opportunity to win gold as just India brings him back to life and the venue, Great Britain, gives him another reason to be fired up about ‘avenging 200 years of slavery.’
With Samrat retiring, he makes Imtiaz the new captain and scouting across the country, assembles a fine group of players including Raghubir (Amit Sadh) and Himmat (Sunny Kaushal). The Partition wreaks havoc in their plans, with their captain moving across the country and a handful from earlier team left. He turns to Samrat again, who agrees to manage the new set of boys this time. With numerous hurdles in their paths, including a jealous co-manager, infighting and more, the story is about how they overcome all the odds to win India’s first gold medal as an independent country.
‘Gold’ is filled with a number of moments that will stay back with you after you exit the theatre. A scene showing riots after the announcement of Partition, Sadiq’s heartbreaking moment informing his decision of going to Pakistan, Tapan’s dressing room speech during the 1948 final, the thrilling climax and the emotional presentation ceremony after it, stand out. There are numerous light-hearted situations that will bring a smile to your face and perhaps even make you laugh, mostly Tapan’s moments with his wife and Raghubir-Himmat’s tiff scenes.
Akshay is the star performer with his act while being a good-for-nothing husband and also wearing the patriotic heart on his sleeve. Some of his dialogues will make you chuckle and his talk of ‘Desh Bhakti’ will make you emotional, though some might find it a bit too preachy. His Bengali, however, sounds completely different to his co-star’s.
TV actress Mouni Roy makes a fine debut as the irritated yet loving wife and looks extremely convincing and relatable as a Bengali woman.
Sunny Kaushal, brother of current sensation Vicky Kaushal, is the pick of the lot from the supporting actors. He is impressive, be it at refusing to salute a British officer, mouthing lines like ‘Inquilaab Zindabad happens before breakfast,’ distress at being benched and conflict with Amit Sadh. His love story with TV actress Nikita Dutt's character is particularly cute.
Amit Sadh as the ‘Ameerzaada’ Thakur scion is excellent and his proudly flaunting his ‘born with centre forward’ tag is effective. His jibes at Sunny’s character and final change of heart are among the defining moments.
Vineet Kumar Singh is good, but after a lead role in an Anurag Kashyap film ‘Mukkabaaz’, he doesn’t have much to do here.
Kunal Kapoor as the player who still makes people ‘fan boy’ over him, is convincing in his brief role, and his ‘unity task’ is one of the highlights of the film.
There are numerous scenes which will remind of other sports films, Akshay’s masterstroke at the end from touchline (left-right feet scene), dressing room speech (sattar minute), player refusing to pass (Komal-Preeti tiff) is all ala Shah Rukh Khan's ‘Chak De! India.’ That dream to win gold through someone else, manager getting jealous of protagonist might freshen memory of Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’, while battle against British ‘Gulami’ and a sort of ‘Ghanan Ghanan’ moment in a different situation here will send you back in time to ‘Lagaan.’
The hockey scenes are picturised well, but the pace of play seemed a bit slow at some places. The VFX is good at most places, except at certain scenes where the crowd looked blurry.
Music by Sachin-Jigar, Arko and Tanishk Bagchi is impressive. Romantic number ’Naino Ne Baandhi’ and inspiring track ‘Ghar Layenge Gold’ stand out, while ‘Monobina’ and ‘Chad Gayi Hai’, though important to plot, marginally affects the pace. Other songs are good too.
The background music deserves special mention as it induces goosebumps in the viewer.
Reema Kagti and Rajesh Devraj’s script is not a true account of a real-life incident, but is a fictional and gripping take on the actual story of free India’s first gold. There’s never a dull moment and Kagti’s direction deserves credit for it.
All in all, Akshay and his boys deliver the perfect Independence Day release and win not just gold, but also hearts! Go for ‘Gold’!...