Saala Khadoos Movie Review: Packs A Stellar Punch
At the center of the plot is Aditya Tomar aka Adi (R. Madhavan), a bitter boxing coach, who gets wronged at all turns of life. While his wife elopes with another boxer, his coach Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain) sabotages his career for money. He then becomes a boxing coach however, due to his acerbic tongue and care-a-damn attitude he is transferred by Khatri to Chennai after he gets falsely accused in a sexual harassment case. There he discovers an unruly fisherwoman, Madhi (Ritika Singh) while she is hitting the members of the selection committee, who gives the judgement against her sister Laxmi, who is a struggling boxer trying to land a sports quota job in the police force.
Seeing her innate talent, Adi decides to take her under his wing to make her, nothing less than, a world champion and lures her to devote sometime to boxing by giving her a daily wage. While Adi is the cranky coach, Madhi is his rumbustious student and the duo forms a precarious alliance. From hostility to angst to respect to love, Madhi's feelings for her coach goes through a roller coaster ride. Will Madhi be able to fullfil her coach's dream? Will they be able to overcome the hurdles that they face? What does Adi do when Madhi expresses her feelings to him? How the dynamics of their relationship change? Well to know the answers to these questions you will have to see the movie.
The film is inspired by several real life incidences and it successfully explores the shoddy state of India's women boxing teams. Right from rampant internal politics to the demand of sexual favours to reach the top, the film captures just about everything. Though it fails to evoke the emotions that Chak De India did, it certainly is far ahead of Mary Kom.
The movie has a rather predictable plot but performances of the film's lead pair is its USP. Madhavan, who was last seen playing a hen-pecked husband in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, is the macho but eccentric boxing coach in Saala Khadoos and he impresses as the no-nonsense Adi. Have to say we are in awe of his versatility as an actor.
Ritika Singh, who is marking her debut with the movie, is certainly the find of the year. Her Madhi is boisterous and annoying and will get on your nerves. However, her character does go through a sea change and she convinces you with her terrific acting prowess. She is not only great on camera but she has also put in a lot of hard work to get in to the skin of her character. Her punches look realistic and despite a no make-up look, she is charming on screen. The duo makes a very unlikely, but at the same time, an adorable pair. Zakir Hussain is perfect in his role and is so nasty that he will make you squirm in your seat. Nasser, who is playing Pandian a junior boxing coach in Chennai, and Mumtaz Sorcar, who is playing Ritika's sister, too lend good support to the lead cast.
Director Sudha Kongara Prasad spent nearly six years of her life on the movie but today she should be really proud of all her efforts, as the end result is great. The film is realistic yet commercial and she has been able to extract great performances from her actors. However, the predictable story and the background score and songs, are the film's Achilles' heels.
All in all Saala Khadoos is a well-intentioned film, which has its heart in place.