Our critic picks out the best of a film that some will love, while others may find it all a bit of a yawn…
By Momtaz Begum-Hossain
PREDICTABLE and patriotic, ‘Gold’ is everything you think it will be, confirmed in the opening sequence where the entire storyline is explained.
On the brink of becoming an independent nation, the Indian hockey team vow to avenge 200 years of British rule by winning Gold at the Olympics and they do.
For some this level of predictability may offer comfort but for others it’s tiresome.
With director Reema Kagti behind the vision, known for her forward-thinking productions like ‘Honeymoon Travels PVT’ and ‘Talaash’, ‘Gold’ was an opportunity to challenge the conventional sports formula that’s become a staple genre in Bollywood in recent years, but instead sticks with safe territory.
For a mass Indian audience, the film delivers the goods. It’s emotional and chock full of national pride, it may even spark a tear or two. For other viewers, it can become tedious. But let’s not dwell on this too much, it was to be expected – instead here’s some of the movie’s finer points.
Heart strings will be played…
The film is laden with a positive fighting spirit. There’s a brief cameo by Adolf Hitler against whom the Indians revolt by illegally flying their flag in pre-war Germany and another poignant moment when the hockey team play barefoot, against the British – the under dogs, trying to prove their worth and these are the moments that give the movie a victorious energy.
The action is set in the mid 1930s to late 1940s and the sets and costumes are a nostalgic nod to the era. The highlight is a prohibition themed item number with glamorous dancing girls and a fun performance by Akshay who plays hockey enthusiast and team manager Tapan Das.
Lots of laughs…
You won’t be laughing out loud, but Gold will have you smiling regularly with giggles and light-hearted moments, thanks to some great scripting and chemistry between a rather fine line up, and in true Bollywood style there is of course a touch of romance.
Kunal Kapoor is finely cast as hockey player and coach ‘Samrat’ and in his sensitive performance demonstrates how much he’s matured into a strong actor with a captivating presence, hopefully reminding the industry that he deserves to be cast more often.
Akshay too is on fine form. He delivers his Bengali dialogue with ease opposite movie newcomer Mouni Roy (pictured above) who is likeable thanks to her character’s feisty nature, but strip away the script and she’s at risk of simply becoming eye candy, so here’s hoping she picks future roles carefully.
‘Gold’ is inspired by true events and it will no doubt be appreciated by Indians the world over, instilling national pride but as a stand alone film it feels a bit too Groundhog Day – like we’ve seen it all before.
Reema attempts to convey the political tensions that existed at the time of Independence by showing the conflict and consequences of there being Muslims and Indians in the Olympic squad line-up.
She also tries to address inequalities within Indian society by showing a team made up of players from different social strata, including a well-to-do prince and a policeman from a rural area – but these issues are over-simplified.
The story of ‘Gold’ perhaps would have been better as a historic documentary with dramatised sequences, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of India getting its first gold as an independent nation.
Instead it’s a two and a half-hour movie that does entertain but will easily be forgotten when the next blockbuster comes along.
Gold is out now
ACV rating: *** (out of five).
Have you seen our interview with Akshay Kumar?