Mumbai, 01 Feb 2019 18:41 IST
Barring a few niggles, the characters and their struggles are genuine enough to make you root for them.
It doesn't take an expert to notice that the title of first-time director Shreyas Jadhav’s Me Pan Sachin is a direct reference to legendary former India cricket star Sachin Tendulkar.
The protagonist of the film is also named Sachin (Swapnil Joshi) and, just like Tendulkar did once, he dreams of playing for India, especially at the iconic Lord's cricket ground in London.
But fate has other plans. Despite having the talent and, later, the opportunity, a tragic incident shatters Sachin’s dreams.
For a major part of the film's runtime, Me Pan Sachin plays out exactly like its trailer. Sachin is down in the dumps as his cricket career is going nowhere. Years later, his dreams are awakened when he sees an opportunity for his son to play at the taluka level. Sachin takes it upon himself to ensure that his son plays for India and goes to Lord's.
Just when you start thinking you know where the film is heading and how it will end, a surprise is thrown in. Other than being completely unpredictable, and positively so, the twist also has a social message.
However, here’s the catch. The surprise element makes Me Pan Sachin a lot like a superhit Hindi film released in 2016. This is true of the protagonist's character as well.
The different shades of Sachin are convincingly portrayed by Joshi though, as a city-bred actor, the rural accent doesn’t come naturally to him, which becomes apparent a few times. But his performance ensures you feel for him.
Child actor Mrunal Jadhav is adorable and moves you. Before this, she has delivered fine performances in films like Drishyam (2015) and Andya Cha Funda (2017).
For a film based on cricket, the shooting and presentation of matches were always going to be key for the film's entertainment quotient. The two matches in the film are entertaining and provide edge-of-the-seat thrills a few times.
But the quality of cricket in the first match, which is the longer one, leaves a lot to be desired. We have seen matches with far better execution almost two decades ago in Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India (2001). And if you were to talk about Marathi cinema, the village-level cricket match in Nagraj Popatrao Manjule’s Sairat (2016) was also much better.
The idea of establishing Sachin’s batsmanship by showing him swat a plastic ball away with the boundaries being almost at arm's length was plain silly. Anyone with an iota of knowledge about cricket would know it is child’s play to smash sixes like that, especially when you get some juicy full tosses. Later on, they also manage to shatter the window of an expensive car with a plastic ball. We wonder how they did that.
Despite such niggles, the characters and their struggles are genuine enough to make you root for them. The village scenario is convincingly developed by the production designer. It's not too arty, yet stays true to the genre.
Priyadarshan Jadhav, as Sachin’s best friend, provides comedic kicks to keep the entertainment quotient alive.
The casting of Kalyanee Mulay is a surprise. That her acting skills are fantastic we saw in Ravi Jadhav’s Nude (2018). So you wonder why she agreed to play a character that does not have much to do with the main plot.
Me Pan Sachin has well fleshed out main parts except for one of the villains, Raja Deshmukh, played by Abhijit Khandkekar. Khandkekar successfully brings out the baddie in him, but the lack of depth to and details of his character hobble him.
In a nutshell, Me Pan Sachin has its ups and downs, and this holds it back from hitting that crucial sixer. It might have hit a boundary if it had arrived at the crease a few years ago.
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