By Jyoti Sharma Bawa
Director – Reema Kagti
Cast – Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Amit Sadh, Kunal Kapoor, Vineet Singh
Rating – 3.5/5
It is 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Akshay Kumar enters the frame as a general ‘hey you’ of the British India’s national hockey team. Somewhere between not saluting to Mein Fuhrer and carrying the Indian Flag next to his heart, he establishes his patriotism. A thrilling hockey match follows and the action is equally engrossing on the bleachers (watch out for the Hitler lookalike). Whether Indians win or lose is immaterial, for standing on the podium would be slaves. There, in a country covered with swastikas, Akshay’s Tapan Das vows with a hand on the Tricolor, to win the medal for a free India.
The opening and the credits make for the most rousing 10 minutes of Gold. They tug at your heartstrings, appeal to your national pride and establish Tapan as our man in the Reema Kagati film. As the World War rages, a nuclear bomb is dropped in Japan and India is on the cusp of freedom, Tapan fills the hockey shaped hole in his heart with alcohol. Tapan’s love for his country never wavers and neither does our faith in him. Today’s alcoholic is tomorrow’s patriot.
Gold is inspired by India winning its first gold medal as a free country at the 1948 Olympics in Britain. Winning over our erstwhile colonial masters would have been sweet indeed and the story loses none of its strength as it is narrated in Gold. The fact that its span takes us over one of the most tumultuous time in the history of world and India makes it even more stirring. Well done Akshay Kumar and Reema Kagti for choosing the right subject and delivering a crackling film.
And then, extra marks to Akshay for delivering an engrossing performance. While walking into the theatre, I had misgivings about Akshay playing a Bengali but he has managed the act with finesse. He is also secure in his space and lets others shine. He is not the hockey captain, the coach or the manager; he is just a man with a dream. During the most important moments of the film, he is either outvoted or left behind. He leads but gives space to others wherever needed. That perhaps is the biggest achievement of Gold – it fleshes out its characters, giving everybody a space to breathe.
Mouni Roy as Akshay’s wife Monobina is just the right mixture of crotchety and charming. With her grasp of Bengali, she brings that extra something to the film’s milieu. Akshay and Mouni’s scenes together are the spice that Gold needed; she takes down her husband a notch or two every time they are together.
Patriotism is also weaved in nicely given it is the Independence Day release and is a sports drama that has a country avenging decades of slavery. You know who is going to win, you know what is going to happen in the middle and you know National Anthem will play before it is over, but it is August 15 and you’re prepared.
More than manipulation, it is the predictability that can become bit of a drag at certain places. For instance, if there are two centre forwards vying to be the star of the team, you know there will be a male appropriation of the ‘Komal, dikha de us launde ko…’ moment. There are many such scenes in the film that feel obvious but such is the tenor of the film that you bob along.
Overall, Gold is a well plotted drama that sometimes devolves into schmaltz and melodrama. However, it gives us solid two-and-half hours of tricolor hued entertainment. We suggest XL sized popcorn tubs.
By Jyoti Sharma Bawa