Producers: Viacom 18
Director: Srijit Mukherjee
Cast: Taapsi Pannu, Vijay Raaz, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Jyoti Subhash
Platform of Release: Theatrical
By Jyothi Venkatesh
The inspirational goose bumps raising story goes from little Mithali being a Bharatnatyam dancer to culminating as a renowned International cricket player after joining the country’s youngest players to represent India internationally in a sport, dominated by the male counterparts, till then.
It is indeed an awe inspiring as well as heart-warming tale of the cricket icon Mithali Dorai Raj, (Taapsi Pannu) born to a Tamil family in Hyderabad, who, accidentally finds her way into cricket at a very young age, thanks to her school friend, Noorie. Mithali (Inayat Verma) is initiated into the game of cricket by Noorie (Kasturi Jagnam). Gradually, even as she steps in to captain Team India at an early stage of her career, she faces numerous hurdles before putting women-in-blue into the spotlight.
Shabaash Mithu is one of the rarest films to come up in the film industry which dares to highlight on the fact that we as a country have never bothered about grooming women and sending them to play cricket internationally. The film revolves around the fight by women to garner the dues due to them for a bright spot under the sun as they are always pushed to the corner in world which judges one by gender parity.
The main things that set out to weigh against the merits of the film are the facts that it is a tad long for us to remain awake and needs slicker editing. The director mauls the film literally by incorporating several songs at various intervals thereby diluting the impact of the film, which is otherwise the gripping as well as emotional underdog story, minus the jingoistic tropes and chest-thumping moments, like some of the melodramatic films we are otherwise subjected to a lot of times.
It’s a paradox that the film talks about the pathetic treatment meted out to Indian women cricketers and to women’s cricket itself by the authorities, has been released in such a half-hearted manner, with absolute lack of publicity required to push it all over the country. Mitali Raj, who retired last month after a glorious couple of decades in her chosen sport, has a mile-high stack of milestones to her name despite the marginalisation of women’s cricket in the country and holds the record for the highest number of runs scored by any individual player in women’s international cricket. She was the first woman cricketer to cross 6,000 runs in One Day Internationals, and the first to breach the 7,000 mark.
Mithu in her early years is played by the darling child actor Inayat Verma, effectively. Inayat endears herself to the viewers with her cute smile while Kasturi Jangam plays the role of her friend Noorie with dexterity. The best thing about the film is that Noorie’s Muslim religious identity is not over-emphasised. Taapsee Pannu lives her role and plays the part to the T effectively while Vijay Raaz shines as her coach Sampath. Sameer Dharmadhikari has been wasted in a role that does not father though he has done his best to get into the skin of Mithali’s father Dorai Raj. Jyoti Subhash is good as Mithu’s grandmother.
The song Hindustan Meri Jaan is quite lovely, but unfortunately it has been over-used. On the whole, it is unfortunate that the makers end Shabaash Mithu on a cricket World Cup that India lost. Yet, all said and done, I’d say that Shabaash Mithu is indeed a very inspirational film in spite of its flaws.