Justice delayed is justice denied. Or is it?
What the eyes see and believe, is it always true?
What one hears in the environment, can it be believed?
This and many more questions are asked and answered in Azhar, the movie based on the life of former Indian cricket team captain Mohammed Azharuddin and his journey from being a successful cicketer to being tainted for match fixing and then getting his ban revoked. The movie showcases his journey from playing cricket from a young age to being selected for the Indian team despite the death of his mentor, his grandfather; going on to score three centuries in his first three test matches. From the coveted captaincy and all its attached glories-expensive lifestyle, fans ardour and a happy marriage to being declared a traitor, being banned from playing cricket to a controversial extra marital affair, Azhar the cricketer has seen it all. From immense fame to being ridiculed to ultimately redeeming himself-Azhar the movie does make for an entertaining watch but could have been fine tuned to truly blaze the big screen.
Played endearingly by Emraan Hashmi, Azhar is a character you want to get to know better. What hides behind that enigmatic smile and the cool swagger on the field and what led to the blatant allegations on one of India’s most successful captains. In a country where cricket is religion and cricketers nothing short of holy incarnations, match fixing is a crime not easily forgiven and forgotten by anyone. The case continues for eight long years and finally Azhar is acquitted due to lack of evidence. Supported by an able ensemble cast of Prachi Desai, Nargis Fakhri, Lara Dutta, Kunaal Roy Kapoor, Azhar is an honest attempt by first time director Tony D’Souza to bring a story close to the nation’s heart on 70mm. Written by Rajat Arora credited with noteworthy films like The Dirty Picture and Gabbar is Back, Azhar states what is known to the world leaving the audience to make its own judgement about his innocence or guilt.
Opening to mixed reviews but garnering a noteworthy box office collection, the timing of the release of Azhar is perfect with the schools closing for vacations and the IPL fever high in the air. It is a story worth sharing with the world as which man has not got the right for redemption or at least a chance to do so. The dialogues are crisp and the best one liners are saved for Emraan who does justice to the role of Emraan giving it his best shot. The rest of the cast gives an average performance and do not make much of an impact. The music is forgettable but then this movie was not about it at all. Coming from the Ekta Kapoor stable of Balaji, she has successfully managed to break away from her brand of over the top fiction and has brought a tale as it has spun over the years.
A few questions remain unanswered as to why the case ran for so long, why nobody came up for Azhar’s defence and least of all you still cannot say whether he was guilty or not. That is for you, the audience to decide. Watch the movie once if you will for Azhar’s shy smile, his angst and his unfulfilled dream of playing 100 tests and his ultimate win. Watch it for Emraan who pulls out all stops to bring the inimitable style of Azhar on celluloid. Last, but not the least, watch it for the man himself who gave his life to the sport and who fought right till the end-Azhar.