ApunKaChoice : Bollywood


Victory - Movie Review

By Nikhil Kumar
Fri, Jan 30, 2009 20:00 IST

Victory Harman Baweja's second film as actor, Victory , is a timepass entertainer that thrills momentarily without ever winning you over.

It's not Lagaan revisited, neither is it Iqbal redux. 'Victory', directed by Ajitpal Mangat, is a story that takes a leaf out of the lives of cricketers like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh or Virender Sehwag, who come from small towns and have struck stardom in sports by sheer dint of their talent. The only difference is that the protagonist of 'Victory' gets swept away by his stardom and loses the track of his dream (of playing international cricket) in the gloss and glitz of his newfound celebrity.

Reduced to its rudiments, the movie is a typical rise-of-the-underdog story. Vijay ( Harman Baweja ), a 24-year-old struggling cricketer from Jaisalmer, has a dream of playing for Team India. It's a dream his righteous, Gandhian father ( Anupam Kher ) has harboured for long. Vijay cuts through the politics of team selection and nepotism with his batting blitz and becomes a star that would eventually fall victim to his own success. Product endorsements, parties, and lucrative deals by cunning agents ( Gulshan Grover ) take precedence over the game and queer the pitch for Vijay's fledgling career.

This shattering of his dream (and his father's dream) comes as a rude awakening for the fallen hero. Shaking the dust off his muddled mind, Vijay makes a successful return to Team India and in the end finds himself shouldering a massive responsibility when he faces the last ball of the last match which he must hit across the boundary.

The outcome of the film is predictable (after all its title is 'Victory'), but that granted, director Ajitpal Mangat doesn't manage to create an edge-of-the-seat suspense we saw in films like Chak De India or 'Lagaan'. The fault lies in Mangat's style of telling. He makes the film so heavy and long (almost three hours) that by the time the crucial last half-hour comes you feel like a tired player after a five day match dying for a drink.

Yes, the cameos by cricketers like Brett Lee, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, Mike Hussey, Jayasuriya, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir and others do add some sheen and authenticity to the film. And the movie does have some touching moments between Vijay and his dad, or Vijay and his sweetheart ( Amrita Rao ). But these sparks are few and far between.

After a disastrous start in Love Story 2050 , Harman shows growth as an actor and, to his credit, doesn't try to ape Hrithik Roshan . He is particularly good in the last reels when Vijay - battered and bruised - is the pivot on which the fate of the final match rests.

Anupam Kher suits the role of a Gandhian to a T, while Gulshan Grover as the opportunistic and manipulative agent is most convincing. Amrita Rao, as Harman's patient and understanding girlfriend, doesn't get much footage.

With its average music, frugal editing and amateurish direction, 'Victory' turns out to be a film that just about manages to hold your interest rather than leave you bowled over.

Rating: **

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