Another day, another sports biopic from Bollywood. Frankly, the last few sports releases were quite dud, so my expectations with Shabaash Mithu were also quite low. Given that Shabaash Mithu is the first movie made by Bollywood on a female cricketer, it had lots of potential. This could have been the next Chak De! India. But was it? Read Shabaash Mithu‘s review below to know more.
Follows a preset template
Like all sports movies that Bollywood churns out, Shabaash Mithu too follows a set template. There’s a highly talented individual who’s brilliant at sports. There’s some opposition from the family, some rivalry, lost matches, opposition from the ruling bodies, and then it all ends in a huge round of applause and acceptance. Shabaash Mithu is no different.
Mithali is a young girl who is naturally good at cricket. According to coach Sampath, played by the talented Vijay Raaz, Mithu’s footwork is natural, and with practice and coaching, she can make it to the national team. While her parents are supportive of Mithu’s dream to be a cricketer, her grandmother and brother are not so keen. This is primarily because Mithu’s brother Mithun wants to be a cricketer, and like in any patriarchal family, her grandmother is all about the grandson.
Once Mithu makes it to the national camp, there is obvious resistance from the teammates. While most of them warm up to her after a few matches, the captain Sukumari considers Mithali competition till almost the very end. As any sports biopic goes, Mithu fights for the team, they go to a World Cup, earn recognition and receive love.
Predictable to the core
Shabaash Mithu is as predictable as it can get. From the moment we are introduced to the tomboyish Noorie and the classical dancer Mithali, we know that Noorie will be the one to bring Mithu closer to her dream. The moment we are introduced to Vijay Raaz, we know he will be the coach who will give wings to Mithali. From Mithali being sidelined by her team to her winning over the team, we know it will all happen in the exact sequence it happens. We know Sukumari is going to use underhanded tactics to weaken Mithu and she does. Unfortunately for her, Mithu is made of tougher stuff and never breaks under pressure.
Put Vijay Raaz in any movie and you know he will do a great job. Shabaash Mithu is no different. He shines as Mithali’s coach Sampath. From convincing her parents to let her play, to taking her to international matches, Sampath is a great coach. Mumtaz Sorcar, as Mithali’s teammate Jhorna, is also a memorable act.
Taapsee does justice to Mithali’s role. Unfortunately, however, her performance gives you a sense of deja vu. We have already seen Taapsee as a sportsperson in Soorma and Rashmi Rocket. So, we have already seen what Taapsee is like in such roles. Shabaash Mithu is no different. At times, it seems like a recycled version of the aforementioned movies.
Tries too hard and fails
Shabaash Mithu tries too hard to be the next big thing in the sports genre. And with better writing, it could have been. The movie touches upon a subject that Bollywood still hasn’t done. Unfortunately, mediocre writing takes the movie down a notch. Towards the end of the movie, when Mithali is giving a pep talk to her team before the first World Cup match, it reminds you of Shah Rukh Khan’s sattar minute dialogue from Chak De! India. Unfortunately, Taapsee’s speech doesn’t have the same impact. While the mood is set and the performances are good, the entire scene is let down by the mediocrity of the writing.
Shabaash Mithu is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is also not a memorable one. Since the movie is set in the south and given Mithali’s southern lineage, the use of a south Indian language was a given. I wish the makers had focused on the diction of the actors as well. While most actors speak the language fairly well, in one scene, Mithun, Mithali’s brother ends up calling their grandmother patti (dog) instead of paati (grandmother). While non-native speakers will glance over it, as a South Indian, that’s gonna stay with me for a while.
Shabaash Mithu is running in theatres now.
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