Love All is refreshingly different sports drama

Kay Kay Menon in Love All. Photo: Altair Media

To be sure, there will always be a template for sports-based films—real or fictional. Every single story narrates the journey of a passionate player, the challenges and buffers thrown at him by fate or human sources, and his defeat or discouragement and final victory. Love All (the starting score for a badminton match), of course, has to follow this blueprint for all such dramas. It is in the detailing that such movies differ—the name of the sport, the issue at hand et al. And in the long 22-year journey from Lagaan, we have watched dozens of such films, including Ghoomer just a fortnight back.

But it is in the content that Love All is refreshingly, heartwarmingly, soothingly and, above all, cinematically different. A badminton ace from Bhopal, Siddharth (Deep Rambhia)’s evolution into a national champion has been sabotaged by inimical forces and the disgruntled young man has to leave the sport, grows up, and takes up a mundane job. He therefore does not marry his sweetheart, Soma (Mazel Vyas), leaves the city and in time weds another woman, Jaya (Shriswara Dubey). The adult Siddharth (Kay Kay Menon) is now totally averse to any sports as he feels that games are just a way to become frustrated in life.

On a job transfer, however, he has to return to his city with wife and son. Unknown to him, his son, Aditya (Ark Jain) has to choose badminton in the new school for admission. Thanks to Siddharth’s old friend, Viju (Sumit Arora), who now runs a sports-gear shop in Bhopal named after Siddharth’s memory (he was called the Champion), his wife and son comes to know of his past glories and eventual tragedy, and understand his bitterness to sports. But as it happens, Aditya has inherited his father’s genes and soon wins a junior level prize.

In time, Siddharth comes to know the truth about his son. He decides to coach him, and soon it is time for the championship that will make Aditya represent India. But now, as it happens, the same malefic forces are arraigned against his son too. Will history be repeated?

The unrelenting positivity and realism in the film is what wins you first. The main drama is in the slightly longer second half and is captivating despite being, in the larger sense, expected. There is no melodrama when Siddharth comes to know that his son is also playing in his school, has won a prize, and that his wife and best friend have hidden this fact from him for obvious reasons.

Siddharth is always a parent with his son’s best interests at heart and never lets his frustrations affect his son or his prospects, though he is tempted to go in that wrong direction. A massive coincidence (his ex-love is now the principal of his son’s school—played by Swastika Mukherjee) is permissible as the story moves, in a way, because of Soma’s presence. The pre-climactic twist is a welcome departure again in terms of the drama that is played out.

I would also strongly recommend the viewer to remain seated when  the end-credits roll, as one of the most endearing sequences is shown in silent form (as visuals only) after Aditya becomes the national champion who will represent India in Japan.

I guess the fact that the film is written and directed by Sudhanshu Sharma, who is said to have been a sportsman himself, makes that crucial difference to this movie. The emotional angles are authentic, subdued and real—and yet they hold attention without making the viewer restive. The screenplay and dialogues are thus lifelike but happily not bland. The cinematography (Raut Jaywant Murlidhar) is suitably apt, and the editing (Aalaap Majgavkar & Raunak Phadnis) brisk without being hurried. The music is alright, with a couple of songs sounding nice when on.

Sudhanshu Sharma must be lauded for keeping the film and treatment non-melodramatic and his actors do justice too. Kay Kay Menon is superb as Siddharth, the man who is contented with his lot even as he harbors resentment at his past failure, if it can be called that. His voice modulation is the highlight of his performance.

Shriswara is competent as his wife in a low-key role as Siddharth’s wife, Jaya. A charming performance comes from Ark Jain as Aditya—his vulnerability seems so completely real and natural, and his expressive eyes are an asset. A stellar turn comes from Swastika Mukherjee as Soma, and her facial mobility and eyes do most of her splendid acting. Sumit Arora as Viju is outstanding in his understanding of his character and is a complete natural, and so is Deep Rambhiya as the teenage Siddharth. The rest are alright, though Raja Bundela as the main antagonist hams.

The film is a surprise small wonder from the movies this year, and deserves much more than what the theatrical audience is likely to give it, given today’s need for a theatrical quotient for the audience. It is being released in seven languages, which should make things a bit better.

Rating: ****

Film Art Studios’ & Ganapathy Films Studios’ Love All  Produced by: Sudhanshu Sharma & M. Ramesh Lakshmi  Directed by; Sudhanshu Sharma  Written by: Sudhanshu Sharma & Sonal  Music: Saurabh-Vaibhav  Starring: Kay Kay Menon, Shriswara, Swastika Mukherjee, Sumit Arora, Ark Jain, Deep Rambhiya,  Mazel Vyas, Atul Srivastava, Satyakam Anand, Robin Das & others



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