Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Striker: Sporadically good
Chandan Arora‘s “Striker” is one of those sleeper films — the ones which don’t have big stars or a big marketing budget, so that you don’t find hoardings at every street corner or its stars on every reality TV show.
But perhaps it is because of this that you go in without too many expectations and allow the director to pleasantly surprise you — at least in some parts.
Siddharth, whose last Hindi film was “Rang De Basanti” stars as Surya Sarang, a young man trying to make it big in Mumbai who lives in the far-flung suburb of Malvani, an area which forms a an ideal backdrop for the film.
He is also a champion carrom player and even impresses local don Jaleel (Aditya Pancholi), who asks him to play in one of his many gambling dens.
Surya initially resists but egged on by his best friend Zaid (played very well by Ankur Vikal) and in desperate need of money, he gives in.
Once he does enter the dark world of gambling, it is difficult to find a way out, and Surya finds Zaid and himself increasingly pulled into the murky politics of the trade.
Arora does manage to insert great moments and enough drama to keep you engaged throughout the first half.
The winding, dark alleys of the Mumbai slums and the claustrophobia of its local trains are captured very well, but the script loses steam in the second half.
The film flits from one situation to the other without much explanation and ultimately you lose track of where it’s heading.
The performances are uniformly good but are weighed down by the sporadic nature of the script. Disappointing, because this film could have made the cut as a genuinely great film.
In the end, this is a one-time watch.