Iqbal bowls you over
Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Naseeruddin Shah, Shweta Prasad, Girish Karnad.
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor.
Genre: Feel-good drama
Storyline: An 18-year old speech and hearing impaired finds an unlikely coach in an alcoholic ex-cricketer to chase his dream of finding a seat in the Indian dressing room.
Bottomline: They don’t make films like this these days.
A movie must move. And this one not just moves you, it transports you right into the canvas.
You can’t help but admire Nagesh Kukunoor.
Like all his other films, ‘Iqbal’ is all heart. But this one packs enough spirit to set the world on fire.
There’s a certain honesty about Kukunoor’s films that makes them instantly likeable.
‘Iqbal’ has to be Kukunoor’s best work till date and one of the best films of all times, and in some departments of storytelling, even superior than ‘Lagaan’ or ‘Black.’
Every frame oozes inspiration, every scene comes alive with candid ingenuity and every character seems to breathe the same air as we do.
‘Iqbal’ is the story of an 18-year old boy who dreams of making it to the Indian cricket team. The fact that he cannot speak or hear is just a matter of academic interest. It’s that attitude with which Kukunoor handles disability without ever making you feel sorry for Iqbal, is where the director goes beyond all set boundaries of filmmaking.
It’s probably the first film that sets an example for an inclusive society, a world where there is no distinction made between the disabled and the abled. It’s with that no-special-treatment sensitivity where Kukunoor scores over Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
And, it’s in the plausibility of the tale about the triumph of human spirit where he scores over Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Right from the very first frame, ‘Iqbal’ is an authentic film about the true-blue son of the soil who never says die.
Shreyas Talpade as ‘Iqbal’ is the find of the year. The young man epitomises innocence, his face speaks volumes, even when he’s not talking at all — from enthusiasm to learn the game to the grit to not give up and the determination to keep going, Shreyas portrays it all with conviction and credibility, with the ease of a veteran.
Shweta Prasad as his bespectacled sister Khadija is super-endearing, as she holds her own against first-rate performers such as Shreyas and Naseeruddin Shah. When she hugs her mother and cries after Iqbal is thrown out of the cricket academy, you have a lump in your heart.
Naseer comes up with yet another brilliant portrayal as Mohit, a disillusioned alcoholic, who transforms into a spirited coach, hesitantly. He provides the laughs with his wry sense of humour as he brings to life a promising bowler now living in anonymity, victimised by the politics of the sport.
It is simply impossible to say which of these is better than the other and their interactions together create magic. Even the supporting cast of Iqbal’s adorable mother (Prateeksha Lonkar) and disapproving, struggling farmer father Anwar (Yatin Karyekar) come up with incredibly credible performances. Only Girish Karnad as Guruji seems a little rigid and unfit for a cricket coach, and the character too remains a little ambiguous as you are left wondering if he’s Mohit’s coach or team-mate or both (given that Mohit and Kapil Dev too calls him Guruji but Iqbal finds both of them in a team photograph).
The lingering moments in the film are one too many. The way the mother, son and daughter hide their passion for the game from the cricket-hating father is adorable just like the bond between Khadija and Mohit after she initially disapproves of his ways.
Technically too, ‘Iqbal’ is well-framed with a pretty neat background score. The KK number ‘Aashayien’ tugs at the heart-strings.
‘Iqbal’ is heart-warming, refreshingly spirited and endearingly inspiring.
Bowls you over.
Iqbal bowls you over