In our country, films that are based on the life of a public figure, end up glorifying them when they, ideally, should project them with all their flaws and blemishes. After the trailer of Azhar, hit the tube, I felt that we finally get to see a biopic which dares to explore greyer shades of a well-known personality. Director Tony/Anthony D’Souza had earlier helmed films like Blue and Boss which were mounted on a lavish scale. So, he seemed to be the right guy to bring to the audience.
Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) is the captain and one of the best players in the Indian Cricket Team. His flourishing career comes to a standstill when he finds himself caught in a match-fixing scandal. He is banned by the Board and the cricketer who has had a massive fan following, finds people looking at him with contempt. Azhar files a petition in the court and challenges the ban imposed on him. He seeks the help of his lawyer friend Reddy (Kunaal Roy Kapur) who asks him to tell him about the key events that happened in his life in the last couple of years. Azhar goes on to talk about his journey as a cricketer, his relationship with his two wives Noureen (Prachi Desai) and Sangeeta (Nargis Fakhri), and all the other incidents that made him the person he is.
One understands that a film that is titled after one of its principal characters is bound to revolve around him. But, giving the character too much importance and relegating almost all the other characters to the background is not right. Considering the fact that these characters are based on people who played a pivotal role in Mohammed Azharuddin’s life, the writer and the director could have done so much with them. The film does attempt to portray some uncomfortable truths from Azhar’s life but barring a few events that catch your attention, the film does not jolt you with many shocking revelations. A major portion of the film deals with the match-fixing scandal and touches upon the other areas of the cricketer’s life briefly. Azhar’s journey as a cricketer and his relationship wives could have made for interesting material but one gets to see very little of that.
Though the film does not turn out to be the explosive tale one had expected it to be, it trudges along smoothly with some engaging moments thrown in at regular intervals. The Azhar – Sangeeta love story which one thought would delve into some privy details runs out of steam soon enough. On the other hand, the scenes that Emraan and Prachi share are filled with warmth and candor. Though the incidents revolving around the match-fixing scandal would have been dealt with more maturely, the non-linear narrative manages to give one a glimpse into Azhar’s life and keeps one engaged in the process.
The film rests on Emraan Hashmi’s shoulders and the actor’s terrific portrayal of Mohammed Azharuddin is one of the major factors that help in keeping the film stay afloat. Prachi Desai and Nargis Fakhri have been projected as the leading ladies but both of them get limited screen time. While Prachi does complete justice to the role of the demure Noureen, Nargis does not show any improvement over past performances, none of which had compelled one to take her seriously as an actress. Lara Dutta delivers a riveting performance as Mira. She gets the body language and mannerisms of a tough, no-nonsense prosecuting lawyer right. Kunaal Roy Kapoor, a fine actor, has been burdened with a caricaturish character. His character of a fumbling, underconfident lawyer gets to one’s nerves after a point. Out of all the actors essaying the role of cricketers, Varun Badola (as Kapil) leaves some sort of an impact.
Azhar comes across as a one-dimensional film as it focuses (primarily) on one incident that took place in the controversial cricketer’s life. One would have liked to see the makers bring to fore several other aspects of a sportsman whose personal and professional life made headlines several times. They shy away from getting into intricate details of the many controversies Azharuddin found himself surrounded with at different junctures in life and make the film look like an escapist fare.