Movie Name: Gold
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy
Director: Reema Kagti
Why see a film where you already know what is going to happen? Gold starring Akshay Kumar is the perfect example of a film where the posters, trailers, promotions all scream out the outcome. But the way director Reema Kagti tells this tale is worth a watch.
The director puts Akshay Kumar on the backseat. He is the ‘paagal Bangali’. The slightly crazy alcoholic who has seen the Indian hockey team defeat strong contenders on the Olympic field with 12 goals. He stood by the winning team from British India as the band played God Save The King. The manager of the Indian hockey team, Tapan Das, dreams of seeing the word ‘British’ struck off from in front of Indian Team. In 1936 Berlin, as the world watched British India defeat Germany in the finals, Tapan is restless.
The world plunges into war in 1939. Tapan sees his dream rotting headline by headline as newspapers say World War II has swallowed yet another Olympics. He wastes away in alcohol as his nagging wife Monobina (Mouni Roy in a cracker of a Bollywood debut) keeps him from drowning in alcohol.
In 1945, the second World War is finally over. The 1948 Olympics are announced. The venue is London. With the Olympics a few years away and the Indian independence a few days away, Tapan gets a new lease of life. He starts off trying to realise the dream that united the Berlin Olympics team. Only that the team is no longer in its earlier state.
As Tapan sets out to scout for talent and make the journey to the Olympic gold possible, we are taken on a ride filled with the joy of a united India and the trauma of Partition. And finally, how India avenges the slavery of 200 years and defeats the British on their home ground.
In Gold, Reema Kagti keeps Akshay in the background like Tapan keeps his Himmat Singh. Tapan (with his shaky Bengali accent) is the proverbial glue that holds this team and the film together. But Akshay Kumar never lets his superstar aura take centrestage. He is the king-maker. From the sidelines, he cheers the team and propels them forward, both figuratively and otherwise.
Gold gives many of those Chak De moments that every sports film since then has. Kagti takes a lot of creative liberties in crafting a nail-biting climax, the intra-team skirmishes and ego battles. Tapan Das is not Kabir Khan in terms of his designation. He is the brains behind this Indian hockey team. The director puts her best man behind the team and lets the story and the performances surface. In Gold, Reema Kagti gives India another tale of long-lost glory to be proud of. On Independence Day, what better a crowd-puller than that?
The journey to the Olympic gold is fraught with disappointments and hurdles. How Tapan Das makes the impossible possible is the story of Gold.
Akshay shines best in the frames that he shares with someone else. Be it with a Vinnet Singh (who is his usual brilliant self) or a Kunal Kapoor (back on screen with his Rang De Basanti fervour) or a Sunny Kaushal (very impressive) or an Amit Sadh (commendable performance). Or with his wife Monobina, played by a fantastic Mouni Roy. Mouni crosses over from the small screen to the big with elan and matches Akshay in every scene that she is with him in.
All through the film, Sachin-Jigar gives a heart-thumping background music to match the pace of Gold. The pace drops in the second half, but seeing the semi-finals play out slo-mo is every bit worth it. Gold is made for the Independence-Day audience who love Akshay Kumar. Let there be no mistake about that. But Kagti is a fine storyteller. The execution of the journey is where you need to put your money on, much like the Indian team and not the individual players.
Cinematographer Alvaro Gutierrez recreates the 1940s perfectly with hardly a note out of place. Songs in the film aid the narrative.
But at the end of the day, all of this is not what people go to watch an Akshay Kumar film for. Gold ticks that box but is a lot more too. Make time for Gold this week.