February 23, 2010

Strikes the right chords

Carrom. yawn...
That's how we shrug off a game that was once considered equal to other biggies like chess and table tennis. We're all too busy with playstation controllers and wiimotes these days. In 1994 kalpakkam, Dad would take me to the library where I used to slip off into the adjoining rooms to watch the click-clack of Carrom. It didn't make much sense but I enjoyed it anyway.

Striker revisits the good old days of carrom and seamlessly mixes it with another issue from the other end of the spectrum- violence, the riots, the communal tension.

The story is set in Malvani- a ghetto like suburb in Mumbai...wait Bombay. The non-linear story shows the protaganist Siddharth(as Surya) as a grown up 20-something as well as his troubled childhood days. What's striking(pun not intended) is the use of very real locations and environments and the 80s feel is spot on.

Siddharth's character loses his hard earned money in a Dubai scam and is unwillingly forced into the dark world of carrom betting thanks to his friend Zayed played by 'Maman' Ankur Vikal. Ankur has earned rave reviews for his performance and truly... he is remarkable.

The riots are shown in a passive way which implies the focus is on Carrom, right? Wrong. The director chooses to show us human emotions and tension and nothing of the real game is shown. Carrom has it's moves and tricks; Showing one or two wouldn't have hurt.

Then there is this underwhelming love story involving Nicolette "Noorie" Bird that ends all too abruptly. The next one- more of a sub plot, is about a fisherwoman played by Padma Priya. It has been compared with an Anil Kapoor movie of the early nineties. Not very useful here, in the context.

Vidya Malvade plays Siddharth's sister and her retorts in fluent Marathi kinda make up for Siddharth's
no-ledge of the language. I don't know the other characters...wait...there's Aditya Panscholi! This movie must be like Saturday Night Fever for our desi John Travolta. He looks good.

This movie is dark, visceral and fun. No duets, no crazy stunts, no emo overdose.
Just what I like.

(Image source: santabanta.com)

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