Sports movies by their very nature tend to be predictable, formulaic affairs. They seldom deviate from such traditional narratives as the rise of the underdog, the comeback of the temporarily waylaid, the transformation of the rebel star into a team player, and the redemption of the tireless, committed coach, himself a failed professional.

Saala Khadoos, written and directed by Sudha Kongara Prasad, fails to rise above the timeworn clichés of the genre, but nevertheless succeeds in creating a credible world and, thanks to affecting performances from its principal players, gives us characters that we can care about.
Former boxer and disgraced coach Adi (R. Madhavan) is exiled to Chennai by corrupt boxing federation big-shot Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain), who has an old axe to grind. Now stuck coaching below-average female boxers, Adi finds a potential champion in firebrand fish-seller Madhi (Ritika Singh), whose sister Laxmi (Mumtaz Sorcar) is part of the local boxing team. In Madhi, our cantankerous coach seems to have to met his match, a pigheaded rebel with little regard for protocol.
It’s a recipe for melodrama, and the film falls right into that trap. Clashes between coach and pupil get tiresome after a point, but unlike Mary Kom whose screenplay merely glossed over the struggle of becoming a champ, real issues are addressed more honestly here. From the politics involved in selections, to corruption, sexual harassment at the hands of officials, and even the tendency to become romantically involved with mentor figures, Prasad’s script doesn’t skimp on uncomfortable truths.
It’s the little details, however, that stay with you. A crackling confrontation scene between Madhi and her sister Laxmi cuts close to the bone, and scenes in which the girls’ mother is revealed to be more broadminded and encouraging than their father are particularly refreshing. The chemistry between Adi and his protégé is combustible stuff, and acting across the board is impressive, with credible turns from such reliable players as MK Raina and Nasser in supporting roles.
Of the central cast, Zakir Hussain is terrific as the slimy official, and Mumtaz Sorcar is very good as Laxmi. R Madhavan does a solid job as the shaggy haired, bulky built coach who refuses to give up on his troubled star, but the knockout performance is delivered by real-life boxer and acting debutant Ritika Singh who is wholly convincing as the untamable Madhi. She has an arresting presence on screen, and you’re genuinely moved by her plight.
Saala Khadoos sticks to familiar ground as far as a sports film goes, although the climatic bout is genuinely thrilling. Amidst all the faux sentimentality, we still get a protagonist that we can’t help rooting for. That is the film’s real success. I’m going with three out of five.

Did you like this blog?*
How did you find this blog?*
What kind of articles would you like to read on the blog?*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× 1 = six

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Secret Superstar

    Lost in her own thoughts during an English class, a distracted student is pulled up by the teacher and caned when...

    BMS EditorOctober 20, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Golmaal Again

    I suppose it’s true: film critics are entirely unreasonable people. After endlessly complaining that the last two “Golmaal” films were like...

    BMS EditorOctober 20, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Tu Hai Mera Sunday

    Cast: Barun Sobti, Shahana Goswami, Vishal Malhotra, Avinash Tiwary, Nakul Bhalla, Jay Upadhyay Director: Milind Dhaimade Sunday is just one of those days of...

    BMS EditorOctober 6, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Chef

    Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Padmapriya Janakiraman, Svar Kamble, Milind Soman, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sobhita Dhulipala Director: Raja Krishna Menon As feel-good films go, Chef,...

    BMS EditorOctober 6, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of American Made

    Cast: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones Director: Doug Liman It’s been a while since Tom...

    BMS EditorSeptember 29, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Judwaa 2

    Cast: Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Tapsee Pannu, Rajpal Yadav, Vivaan Bhatena, Upasana Singh, Anupam Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Manoj Pahwa  Director: David Dhawan Judwaa...

    BMS EditorSeptember 29, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Newton

    Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav, Anjali Patil, Mukesh Prajapati Director: Amit V Masurkar Above all things, Newton, directed by Amit Masurkar, is...

    BMS EditorSeptember 22, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Haseena Parkar

    Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Siddhant Kapoor, Ankur Bhatia Director: Apoorva Lakhia It’s bad enough that Shraddha Kapoor looks nothing like the real Haseena Parkar...

    BMS EditorSeptember 22, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Lucknow Central

    In Lucknow Central, a bunch of desperate prison inmates turn to music in the hope of securing their freedom. Surface-level similarities to Qaidi...

    BMS EditorSeptember 15, 2017

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2017 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news!
Thank You For Subscribing To Us!

Now get regular updates on the latest entertainment news and style trends.

Providing you with the best of Bollywood, Hollywood, style and more.
Get the best in entertainment, while keeping yourself entertained!
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.
WordPress Popup