Engaging, entertaining, and energetic, and electric in parts – Gold arrives as the ideal cinematic retreat this Independence Day, certain to leave viewers engulfed in a topical piece of sports history while also permeating us with just the necessary amount of patriotism. It may not rank among the best sports films you’ll see, but it still plays the field well and ends up as scoring just enough goals to keep us hooked to its narrative.
No prizes for guessing that the film revolves around India’s first attempt at winning an Olympic gold medal as an independent nation – the trailer made that abundantly clear. Writer/Director Reema kagti and her cowriter Rajesh Devraj weave an interesting screenplay around this concept to take us through the journey of Tapan Das, the Indian hockey team’s manager, under whom British India won three gold medals in a row at the Olympics, but who’s now driven with one sole objective – to bring home an Olympic gold for the country post-independence, and see our national flag unfurled atop England’s Olympic stadium for the whole world to witness. According to him, nothing could be a more fitting reply to England’s 200 years of colonialism than this, and we gladly agree with him, especially with the way his journey unfolds.
The script has plenty of riveting moments and Kagti finally proves her capability at handling an intense subject after giving us glimpses of the same in her last directorial effort, the promising but, ultimately underwhelming, Talaash. The assembly of the team, Tapan’s challenges to take them to the Olympics, the in-fighting between some of the key teammates are some of the portions that reel you in and leave you curious for what happens next. The first half builds the drama quite well, and the story is also dexterously juxtaposed against the backdrop of the last days of colonial rule, followed by the horrendous aftermath of the partition. However, there are a few portions in the first half where the pace lags, which could have been avoided with some sharper editing. On the other hand, slightly more focus could have been paid to the on-field hockey and, especially, the chroma in the second half. But, just when you think that Kagti and her editor Anand Subaya are dragging the second half, the proceedings reach a head in a gripping climax that ends with a goosebump-inducing dose of ‘deshbhakti’ (that you don’t mind one bit indulging in), leaving the film on a high.
Of course, you shouldn’t go in expecting another Chak De India (yes, we know such comparisons are inevitable, particularly for a Hindi film based on hockey) as that was the gold standard when it comes to sports films in India, leave alone ones based on hockey. At times its difficult though, especially when you see two of the teammates having exactly the same issues that Preeti Sabarwal (Sagarika GHatge) and Komal Chautala (Chitrashi Rawat) faced with each other, or when another track resemble the one of Bindya Naik (Shilpa Shukla). But these unavoidable analogies aside, Gold does create its own mark and stands out for its conviction in story. Part of that conviction has a lot to do with the cast, all of whom do a credible job, with Amit Sadh, Sunny Kaushal, and obviously, Akshay Kumar being the best of the lot. Akshay makes easy work of quite a tough role, and also gets his Bengali accent right for the most part, while Amit and Sunny are given the juiciest character among the supporting cast, but it’s to their credit that exploit them to the fullest. Mouni Roy, too, makes a confident debut, showing that she’s much more than just small-screen nagins or bahus. The music though is quite a letdown, barring the title track.
All in all, Gold is a pretty good sports film that evokes a nice sense of patriotism, complemented by an ensemble in fine form. Releasing during the Independence Day weekend is also bound to work in its favor.
Movified Rating: 3.5/5
Images Source: Excel