Mumbai, 22 Mar 2019 7:00 IST
Sur Sapata is yet another sports movie about a group of underdogs. But that is not its main problem.
Director Mangesh Kanthale’s Sur Sapata is about an unlikely group of schoolchildren who achieve glory against the odds. If that sounds familiar, it should, given the number of sports films about underdogs that we have had in Marathi as well as in Hindi over the past few years. Re Raya (2018), Gotya (2018) and Me Pan Sachin (2019) are the recent ones in Marathi alone.
But the repetitive theme is the least of the problems with Sur Sapata. A bigger problem is that the film tries to fit in a lot more than just the main plot of the underdogs.
So we have various subplots and characters that don’t add anything to the story of seven mischievous school kids (Hansraj Jagtap, Chinmay Girish Sant, Yash Kulkarni, Chinmay Patwardhan and others) who make life hell for their teachers (Anand Ingle and others) and the school principal (Govind Namdev) until they are given the responsibility of representing their school in the state kabaddi championship.
Now this is a tournament the school has not participated in for 25 years. Don't ask why because we don't know. Neither the reason for non-participation nor for sudden participation is made clear.
The personal animus between the characters of the school coach (Upendra Limaye) and the rival team coach (Sanjay Jadhav) appears contrived. Apparently, Jadhav’s character had played a nasty trick on Limaye’s 15 years ago when their respective school teams were competing against each other. The problem is that both Limaye and Jadhav appear to be in their 40s, so one wonders why they were still in school at 25.
Namdev's principal is also a flawed character. Being the head of the school, he does not tolerate even the slightest mischief, which is understandable. But he has no problem when the seven kids secretly enter the school at night to commit fraud. In fact, this causes a change of heart in him. Unfortunately, we cannot find it in our heart to forgive or forget the laundry list of such logical flaws in the script.
Most of the times, the principal is seen being upset and quiet, but there are occasions when he just screams in anger or excitement. You can say he alternates between Narayan Shankar of Mohabbatein (2000) and retired Major General GD Bakshi of television debates fame. By the way, someone else has dubbed for Namdev, which is also a dampener.
Sanjay Jadhav, a top filmmaker himself, is impressive at the start but later goes into a one-dimensional mode. His act in the pre-climax generates interest but the sub-plot is just ignored thereafter.
Upendra Limaye is one of the finest artistes in Marathi cinema currently. But even he is unable to shake off the weak presentation and writing here and ends up hamming, which is painful to watch. His character of a drunk loser who returns to the game as a coach constantly reminds you of Naseeruddin Shah’s character in Nagesh Kukunoor’s beloved classic Iqbal (2005).
The climax of such films is predictable, so Sur Sapata tries to be different, but you wish it hadn’t because of the over-the-top manner of presentation. An unusual twist takes place which you understand only because it is spoken out loudly since the visuals are confusing.
A rare plus point in Sur Sapata is the performance of the seven child artistes. They have not only acted well but their coordination and chemistry make them a believable team of underdogs. How you wish they had got a better film.
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