Anthony D’Souza’s latest film Azhar is a biopic that pretends it’s a fictional movie and tries very hard to gloss over reality. As to whether it actually manages to entertain in any way, let’s find out.
Azhar clearly tells the tale of Mohammad Azharuddin inspite of the disclaimer at the beginning that it is a fictional account of events. It starts with the infamous sting operation that led to the downfall of Mohammad Azharuddin played by Emraan Hashmi who looks nothing like the cricketer. Then we are taken back in time to the happy days he spent with his first wife played by Prachi Desai and his eventual infatuation with Sangeeta (Bijlani of course, played by Nargis Fakhri). The movie zips back and forth in time as the present day Azhar fights the match fixing charges in court. The story will be all too familiar to anyone who even remotely followed the rise and fall of Azharuddin’s career and the film hardly manages to add anything new.
Director Anthony D’Souza and writer Rajat Aroraa create a heavily embellished version of Azharuddin’s story and build him up as some kind of victim throughout. They stay away from actually getting into the skin of the characters and expect us to simply accept Azhar as the hero. But that’s not to say that the movie doesn’t work as a masala entertainer. Just don’t go expecting a hard-hitting insight into the life of a controversial cricketer.
Emraan Hashmi is the chief saving grace of the movie even though he doesn’t really look like Azharuddin. The actor makes a very strong effort to emulate Azharuddin’s mannerisms and delivers an accurate portrayal of the actor, be it in his speech or even the flick of his wrists on field. The supporting cast of Gautam Gulati, Lara Dutta and Kunaal Roy Kapoor have to make a very real effort to stop things from getting too tacky but don’t succeed most of the time. The production design falters often and the film doesn’t always bring out the 90s era very well.
Overall, a few story elements work well and it may be entertaining for some viewers. But by no account is this an unbiased version of events that rocked a nation. At some level we aren’t sure if we really needed a Mohammad Azharuddin movie in the first place. We shall go with two and a half stars.