‘Shabaash Mithu’ review: Laboured innings that loses way after a promising start

Sreejith Mukherjee’s film is a formulaic sports biopic that portrays the subject in muted shades with a halo and other prominent characters.

Sreejith Mukherjee’s film is a formulaic sports biopic that portrays the subject in muted shades with a halo and other prominent characters.

In the first half Shabash Mithu, low-profile coach Sampath Kumar tells a young Mithali Raj, after an indifferent performance in a practice session, to be grateful that there are no major social obstacles in her way and compares her background to that of her friend Noori. She played for seven years without telling her parents. Later in the film, during a camp, off-spinner Neelu (inspired by Neetu David) almost graphically recounts how she skinned cattle with her father at a tannery in Kanpur.

Shabash Mithu

Director: Srijit Mukherjee

cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vijay Raj, Mumtaz Sorkar, Devadarshini

runtime: 156 minutes

plot: A biopic on the life of Mithali Raj, the former captain of the national women’s cricket team

No offense to Mithali Raj’s dizzying records and stature in international cricket, but one wants to know more about the lives of Noori and Neelu in the cinema halls. After a detour, director Sreejith Mukherjee commits to making a heavy-handed, principled sports biopic where the makers see the subject with a halo and paint others in muted shades. The film may be a celebration of women’s cricket but as a song in the film suggests, it focuses more on a butterfly. We will have to wait for other producers to invest in their stories.

For a film that talks about providing women cricketers Pehachan (Identity) and talks of parity with the Men in Blue, many of the players around Mithali have been renamed. Can any filmmaker take such creative liberties with leading members of a men’s team?

Like the film’s naysayers, the makers seem to have assumed that the audience didn’t follow women’s cricket. No mention of greats like Diana Edulji or Anjum Chopra. Only Shantha Rangaswamy and Mamata Maben are mentioned by their first names. One can recognize Jhulan Goswami only through the exaggerated bowling action of Mumtaz Sorkar.

Instead of recreating it, the makers collected 2017 ICC World Cup footage from a sports channel. So when the names of Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur appear at the bottom of the screen, it’s irritating because the film doesn’t care to introduce them to us. Coach Tushar Arothe will be conspicuous by his absence and this also figures to be Mithali’s second World Cup final as captain.

When it comes to non-cricket stuff, Swanand Kirkire and Kausar Munir’s lyrics aren’t bad, but music composer Amit Trivedi wraps them up in a stock score that often breaks the tempo of the narrative.

A committed actress, Taapsee once again puts her best foot forward to bring out Mithali’s quiet resilience. However, she plays the role straight off the bat and has no rough edges. Perhaps, she was retrieved by a safe article. Like Mithali’s coach, Sreejith hopes to keep pace with Taapsee’s growth with a step inside. It leads to a laborious innings with flashes of brilliance.

This becomes more evident after young Inayat Varma and Kasturi Jagnam play the roles of young Mithali and her friend Noori respectively without any artificiality. Noori showed how Mithali is the way Not in Bharatanatyam but on the cricket pitch. Their little joys and camaraderie are the highlight of the movie and the reason you get emotionally invested in the movie.

Vijay Raj adds Sampath as a no-nonsense coach and Sampa Mandal as Neela, but once the story takes center stage, it becomes a familiar checklist of hurdles in the path of the country’s female athlete. After Chuck! India, Dangal And Bank, exercise has lost its novelty and emotional pull. Here, the work done by Shilpa Shukla is handed over to Shilpi Marwa. Every two!: A senior who holds a grudge against a budding star. A stage actor works well with predictable shapes.

still, Shabash Mithu Young Mithali and Noori’s cheerful energy has a chance. Look around, there are many like them eager to bowl you over with their deft footwork.

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Written by filmysector

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