Movie Review: ‘Azhar’ by Neha Ravindran 

Movie: Azhar

Director: Tony D’Souza

Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai, Lara Dutta, Nargis Fakri

Genre: Biopic

Mohammad Azhruddin was a man who created history. Young boy from Hyderabad, he went onto create a record of triple centuries in his first three matches itself. He goes on to become the captain of the Indian cricket team, leading the team to win three world cups under his captaincy. He then went on to be painted in controversies of alleged extra marital affairs and match fixing resulting in a lifetime cricket ban. This movie is the inside story of cricketing legend Mohammad Azhruddin’s life.

Azhar (Emraan Hashmi) is a well known cricket star in India. He wants to fulfil his grandfather’s dream of playing 100 test matches. His wife of 8 years Naureen (Prachi Desai) is his pillar of strength and support. But stardom and fame always comes at a cost- a price to be paid for being in the limelight. Azhar is accused of match fixing and is banned from playing for India. He then falls for a Bollywood actress Sangeeta (Nargis Fakri) and goes on to have a steamy affair with her. For almost 8 years Azhar’s life is stuck in a flux personally and professionally. Will he be able to defend himself for selling his religion (cricket) or will he lose it all?

Azhar is a biography and revelation of inside stories that may put to rest several questions Azhruddin’s fans might have had all these years. Emraan Hashmi is charming as young Azhar. He has captured the cricketer’s mannerisms and gestures quite perfectly. It was welcoming to see Prachi Desai back on the ssilver screen. She essay’s the role of Azhar’s first wife Naureen. Prachi was a delight to watch in this movie. Her performance has beautifully mirrored the changing phases of Azhar and Naureen’s marriage. Though, she has been repeatedly casted as the lover or the docile wife without opportunities to explore other facets of her as an actor. Well, I am hopeful that after this movie, Prachi will get more challenging offers. Lara Dutta is splendid as the defense lawyer. Though it is not a meaty role, she manages to play beautifully with what is laden out to her. Kunaal Roy Kapur is infuses humour through his character’s antics and personality. The weakest link in the movie is Nargis Fakri. There are times, when it’s virtually impossible to make out her expressions.

The first half of the movie is its high point; the second half keeps sliding down till the climax which is the only high in the second half. The portion around Azhar’s affair with Sangeeta is shot clumsily possibly to avoid controversy, but in effect it ruins the second half. The constant true and fro to flash backs is also a little tiring considering the movie’s running time is nearly 3 hours. Songs by Amaal Malik and Pritam is soulful and beautiful.

Azhar is a decent watch! For all Azhruddin fans, this movie will be an answer to many unanswered questions.

My verdict: ***