Film Review: Kaun Pravin Tambe? is engrossingly ideal fare for OTT

Shreyas Talpade and Anjali Patil in Kaun Pravin Tambe? with other artistes. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

What? Who indeed is Pravin Tambe? He is no celebrated cricketer, right? So why make a biopic on him?

The makers of the film think otherwise, and they are not wide off the mark. This is the sports or cricket counterpart in that sense of Gully Boy. It is of a gully cricketer in Mumbai (a real one, too!) who wants to play in the Ranji Trophy. His dreams begin as a kid, and as he grows older, he gets more and more anxious, depressed and frustrated. But then, he never gives up, like the spider in the fable we all were told as kids.

According to a seasoned coach Vidyadhar (Ashish Vidyarthi), Pravin Tambe (Shreyas Talpade) would be better off in the field as a spin bowler rather than the medium pace bowler-cum-all-rounder that he is and wants to be. But Pravin (mistakenly, as it turns out) feels it is the man’s prejudiced view against him, and an ideal excuse for choosing someone else rather than him. Again to give a Gully Boy parallel, he thinks it is like asking a rapper to sing Indian folk!

Finally, an unfortunate accident forces him to listen to the man who turns out to be his true mentor. And the doggedly determined cricket fanatic hero makes it to the IPL at the age of 41, when many, notably sports journalist Sanyal (Parambhrata Chattopadhyay) have already written him off. En route, like probably dozens if not hundreds of such sportsmen, Pravin changes multiple jobs with companies that have cricket teams in small Mumbai matches, so that they can practice and play more than work, but their kitchens can run.

Warning his prospective wife Vaishali (Anjali Patil) that he is already in love (with cricket!), he proves a loving husband, son and father as well, and has an elder brother (Varoon Verma), who is earning well and supports all his ambitions. An endearing circle of cricket-crazy friends completes Pravin’s world. But the universe of his dreams will not be complete minus the Ranji Trophy and, optionally, beyond.

The best thing about this film is its mission: to underscore the phenomenal struggles of an underdog in every field of life: the honesty, the dedication and even the persistence that can pay off far less sometimes than contacts, hype, luck and maybe manipulations. Pravin’s focus never wavers, whatever the adversity. His obduracy in this matter often seems plain stupid, if not self-centered, obsessive and self-destructive, but he gets there in the end, even if a shade late.

Shreyas Talpade is brilliant as Pravin, scoring higher than in his splendid debut in Iqbal (2005), in which he also played a (physically-challenged) cricketer. His expressions are excellent, his body language, with 17 years of acting experience behind him, surpassingly perfect.

The film leaves little scope for the others, even for the formidable Anjali Patil as his wife. The children are cute, ditto Arun Nalawade as the father. Chhaya Kadam is excellent as the blunt mother, and Varoon Verma especially impresses in a  briefer role as the unconditionally loving and selfless brother.

It is brilliant how Ashish Vidyarthi, whose initial performances when he started out were theatrical and almost hammy, has evolved and continues to do so by the with each successive performance in the last decade, across films and web. Parambhrata gets the gray character right while remaining essentially himself.

The music, as in every film nowadays (RRR being an exception, but then that’s a different story!) is an ear-sore, ditto the hook-obsessed lyrics, but the technical values are competent. The writing is excellent, given the nuances, and Jayprad Desai’s directorial debut in Hindi is promising.

It is always gratifying to know that a film’s makers know the exact scope of their movies, and this film is the perfect vehicle for an OTT release. In the movie-halls, it would have never made a mark, but on a digital anywhere-anytime platform, it will surely find echoes in many hearts.

Rating: ***

Disney+Hotstar presents Fox Star Studios’, Friday Filmworks’ & Bootroom Sports’ Kaun Pravin Tambe? Produced by: Shital Bhatia & Sudip Tiwari Directed by: Jayprad Desai Written by: Kiran Yadnyopavit & Kapil Sawant Music: Anurag Saikia Starring: Shreyas Talpade, Anjali Patil, Ashish Vidyarthi, Arif Zakaria, Parambhrata Chattopadhyay, Arun Nalawade, Chhaya Kadam, Chirag Trivedi, Ankur Dabas, Gaurav Kamble, Nitin Rao, Varoon Verma & others







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