Azhar attempts to capture one of cricket’s biggest corruption scandals that broke in 2000, naming one of India’s and world’s finest batsmen in ‘match-fixing.’ Despite being based on the life of Mohammed Azharuddin and the controversy that surrounded him for more than a decade, Azhar cautiously refuses to call itself a biopic. (After being named in match-fixing, Azharuddin was banned for life from the sport in 2000. 12 years later the ban was lifted by the Andhra High Court).
Azhar recounts the story of the once worshipped captain and his fall from grace. It parallel-y explores his equally controversial personal life – his two marriages, one with a simple Hyderabadi girl Naureen and second with actress Sangeeta Bijlani.
Unfortunately, the film falls flat in both aspects. Azhar is a fine lesson in how not to make a film. Stale, repetitive dialogues, like in a 70s film; shabbily delivered like the director didn’t even care beyond a point and forgot it was his film, his baby. The film didn’t even seem to be trying after a point. It’s a half-baked, rushed-up, below average affair at best. It’s sad when you have content and intent but refuse to put in that much effort to translate it on screen.
Emraan Hashmi looks earnest in a few scenes but is a disappointment, overall. And it wasn’t entirely his fault. I wonder what the director was doing here. I sat poker faced throughout except probably in two scenes, where my lips curled a little. Azhar and his first wife Naureen’s first few meets and a courtroom scene towards the end where our lawyer (Kunaal Roy Kapoor) urges the judge to “gaur farmaiye” (pay heed).
Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s brief appearance as Azhar’s naanu (grandfather) is endearing. And our bookie Rajesh Sharma is on his game with whatever little material he had. Prachi Desai didn’t have too many lines. And Nargis Fakhri gives you yet another reason not to watch this film. She should retire already.
Armaan Malik and Arijit Singh with their melodious, soulful voices are the only saving grace of this film. ‘Bol Do Na Zara‘ is one of the best numbers to have come out this year after Arijit’s ‘Tere Liye Duniya‘ (Airlift) and his duet with Asees Kaur ‘Bolna‘ (Kapoor and Sons).