With a running time of 131 minutes, it’s like watching
a leisurely test match. Every ball is expectedly thrown from the former India
captain’s perspective and you may toss to decide how much of it you want to
believe. But if you don’t go looking for authenticity, director Tony D’Souza’s Azhar has all the shots that commercial
There’s a careful blending of emotions. Azhar’s shyness
in romancing first wife Naureen has the humour and heart that was seen between
Ajay Devgn and Kangana in writer Rajat Arora’s earlier work Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. And the
spark is maintained when Azhar falls in love again with Sangeeta, Bijlani we
presume, as only first names are used for most of the characters.
Never known for his voice quality or for speaking
well, Azharuddin spoke with his bat as advised by his grandfather who was his
main source of inspiration. But some of the dialogues will please the audience.
For instance, when Pakistani cricketer Javedbhai taunts Azhar that Allah is on
their side, India’s captain reminds him, ‘Shaayad
aap bhool gaye ki mera naam Mohammed hai.’
Even if there’s a disclaimer that this is not a
reflection of any known personalities, watching Ravi, Kapil, Manoj and other
cricketers play their parts in Azhar’s life will give fans of the game a
Prachi Desai wins you over as the first wife who had
to give up her place in his life to another woman. Nargis Fakhri is all pout
and glamour as Sangeeta. By knitting in the famous Oye, oye number from the Sangeeta starrer Tridev, the romance gets its touch of realism.
Kunal Roy Kapoor is averagely amusing as Azhar’s clumsy
lawyer while Lara Dutta as his opponent looks smart though the courtroom is
conducted like comic theatre.
Emraan Hashmi may put his collar up like Azhar for
hitting a boundary in the cricketer’s shoes. He makes up for not looking like
Azhar by playing with his voice and gait and delivers a winning innings.
Azhar is by no
means a complete dossier on the all-rounder who doesn’t win most people’s
sympathy for his questionable personal and professional moves.
But as a dramatic entertainer with authentic moments, Azhar gets a 3* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author