Onto the next new release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Taapsee Pannu starrer Shabaash Mithu which is the biopic of India Legend Mithali Raj. Cricket is considered as a religion in India. But despite that there is a disparity between men and women as far as cricket is concerned. The women’s cricket has had to wage lone battles related to their basic needs where sponsorship has been an issue. This while their male counterparts have been enjoying many luxuries which also include the cash rich IPL. But one of the reasons why people stood up and took notice was one of the child prodigies of Indian Cricket Mithali Raj who burst into the scene with a bang. If ever there was a superstar in women’s cricket then it had to be Mithali. After a long and illustrious career wherein she narrowly missed out on being a World Champion in 2017, she called it a day a month back. And so a biopic was just a matter of time and richly deserved. My only concern with biopics is that it should be well made. So then does Shabaash Mithu manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Shabaash Mithu is a sports biopic of legendary player Mithali Raj as it traverses her journey from a child to a stunning batter. The story is heartfelt and needed to be told. My only concern was how well would the screenplay be penned. Standing at almost 160 minutes, the screenplay is a tad too lengthy but on expected lines as you had to cram in many events from Mithali’s life. But the not so good news is that not all of them land well.
The drama opens on a heartwarming where a young Mithali is learning Indian Classical Dance while her brother is into cricket. Soon fortunes change for her and her friend as they are spotted by a coach who takes them under their wings. The films honestly peaks during this entire sequence which was heartfelt and also touched upon the inherent patriarchy which runs in every family.
From here on the film maintains its pace even though the approach is basic and the beats of the drama are predictable. You get to know the hardships faced by the individual before making it to the Indian Cricket Team for the first time. The issue though starts from the second hour where the curse of the second half sets in thereby derailing the film entirely. The writing is so flat in the second hour that it does not exude of any confidence. There are so many uneventful scenes in what could have been an inspiring and telling tale of a champion. Mind you, the issues faced by the individual is bang on but its execution and writing is what makes this ship sink.
There are fleeting moments which touch your heart but these moments are few and far between. The entire climax focuses on the 2017 World Cup a la MS Dhoni The Untold Story where the face of the protagonist is imprinted in various world cup matches. Also there were many factual error(or were they liberties) which were taken like the Coach of Tushar Arothe whereas the film showed a female coach. The players being addressed in the dressing room were different from the ones playing on the ground. Even though the final scene was rousing, the screenplay was a mess in the second half unfortunately. Also I wished that the makers would have got the original Mithali Raj at the end which just didn’t happen.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are slightly over dramatic(in written scenes which are equally melodramatic) and they do not connect as well as they should have. The music and BGM are excellent and I felt sorry for Amit Trivedi who was giving it his all despite things crumbling around him. The cinematography too wasn’t impactful especially in cricket scenes as they included so many jump cuts, an issue which was also present in the Saina Nehwal Biopic. Director Srijit Mukherji is usually a good director but here he misses the mark. His approach was basic in the first hour and it seemed that he may well have been disinterested in the second hour as the drama is just uninspiring.
The performances are decent but they definitely could have been better. Vijay Raaz is splendid as the role of the coach and I wish he had more screentime. Inayat Verma as the Young Mithali is outstanding and you just know that this little girl has all the makings of a star! Mumtaz Sorcar as Ghosh(a rendition of Jhulan Goswami) is pretty good. Taapsee Pannu as Mithali Raj is brilliant in certain places but just about average in some other places. I honestly saw more of Taapsee and less of Mithali in her performance.
After watching Shabaash Mithu, I would say Sorry Mithu as Mithali Raj, the India Legend deserved a better film! This one is uninspiring and just average at best unfortunately! Available in a theatre near you.