I always consider, a film is an “Inspiration” rather than a “Creation”. No film can be made without an inspiration. I also believe, if that inspiration comes from the real life situations then that film turns out to be a sensible one. This is what happened in the case of “Saala Khadoos”. It was directed by Mani Ratnam’s protege “Sudha Kongara”. It starred Madhavan and a mixed martial artist Ritika Singh in major roles. It was simultaneously made in Tamil as “Irudhi Suttru” with the same cast. Madhavan and Raj Kumar Hirani produced the Hindi version of this film.
A banned boxer turned coach Adi Tomar (Madhavan) happens to go to Chennai where he finds a girl Madhi (Ritika Singh) interested and suitable for boxing. How he trained her and managed to make her a champion form the rest of the story.
According to Sudha, this film was inspired by many true stories. She took a lot of space for dramatization and I felt she used it perfectly. A banned middle aged coach and a women trainees’ team may remind you of “Chak De India” or woman boxing may remind you of Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” but Sudha used “Madhi” to let you forget those films and enjoy her film independently.
Sudha’s narration was so good that it entertains with an apt situational comedy from the Pandian character played by Nasser. There also lies something good about Madhi. She is highly arrogant, makes you laugh sometimes but she never lets you show disrespect towards her. Instead, you will show disrespect towards Adi for hitting her at times to control her misdeeds. I felt this is how a characterization should be done. Writer and director Sudha should be given whole and sole credit in this aspect.
Sudha successfully portrayed how ego and jealousy ruin relationships even between sisters and how women exploitation and politics are letting down the sports in India. I liked the director’s intention to show that education doesn’t give maturity. Examples are the scenes where Madhi gets back to training for the sake of her sister, though she wants to get out of the it and her silence in the scene where Adi misunderstands Madhi for her sister’s deed. The director opted to show lesser amount of melodrama though Madhi got a poor family with an irresponsible father and dependent mother.
I liked the way Madhi implemented Genghis Khan’s war strategy, hinted by her master, in the final fight. I also enjoyed the sudden moments like Madhi trying all the four punches she learnt from Adi on Dev (Zakir Hussain) after her final match. It was literally a whistling moment.
On the flip side, I felt songs were placed often in the narration of 102 minutes. They made the narration a more verbal one rather than a visual one.
On the whole, Saala Khadoos is the second sensible and inspiring film this year after last week’s Airlift. I recommend this film to everyone.
Madhavan was perfect as a depressed boxing coach with his rugged look. He showed the variations perfectly from being arrogant in the first half to being subtle at the end. A special mention is deserved by “Ritika Singh”. Though she is not an actor by profession and this is her debut film, she played Madhi as if this is her nth film. She was perfectly arrogant as a fish seller and amazingly fast as a boxer, which is obvious. Nasser as Pandian, Mumtaz Sorcar as Laxmi, Zakir Hussain as Dev were apt.
Overall Eminences :
- Story, Screenplay & Direction. Sudha Kongara’s work for Saala Khadoos was perfect, be it her writing or direction, she deserves a huge appreciation. Raj Kumar Hirani and Sunanda Raghunathan provided additional screenplay.
- Performances. As said, leads Madhavan and Ritika were absolutely perfect for their roles and stole the show.
- Sivakumar Vijayan’s Cinematography. The entire visuals of the film were rich and appealing.
- Runtime. This film runs for an ideal runtime of 102 minutes being straight to the point hence not making the audience feel bored.
- Production Values. Producers Madhavan and Hirani’s production values were apt for the film’s narration.
- I opine, songs were placed more often in the narration. But this may not be disliked by all. Opinions will get differed.
– Yashwanth Aluru