A Striking Surprise!
Low publicity and a small budget often set many preconceived notions for a film… “It won’t be so great” is the general idea but Striker is quite the opposite! Set in the backdrop of suburban Mumbai in mid 80’s this film is more of a docu-drama. Striker is a Chandan Arora film and I for one have found both of his previous films (Main, Meri Patni aur Woh and Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon) quite intriguing. This time around he narrates the story of Surya, a boy who’s brought up in a chawl in Mumbai and also happens to be a champion carrom player. Arora picks a different sport to tell his story. Carrom is among the most popular games in India and not a lot films have used this game as a basis for their plot. Striker is not about Carrom as such but the game and its players form an integral part of the story. Striker also brings to screen a very strong ensemble Seema Biswas, Aditya Pancholi, Siddharth, Anupam Kher, Ankur Vikal, Vidya Malavde and Padmapriya.
In a chawl in suburban Mumbai stays Surya (Siddharth), a young boy brought up amongst the lesser privileged in Mumbai. Being an unhealthy child keeps Surya frequently away from school and in his time at home he learns to play Carrom under the guidance of his elder brother. He’s so natural at it that Surya goes on to win national championships just at 12! You know Carrom actually is still a very popular game among the lesser privileged in Mumbai it’s like a less posh version of billiards. Carrom requires a lot of skill and precision to get the right strike. As Surya grows up we’re introduced to the underbelly of the game… Carrom played for money, gambling and betting. Though our protagonist wants to live the dream go to Dubai to earn money and stay far away from the underworld of Carrom but he’s forced to cross paths with the hoodlum Jaleel(Aditya Pancholi) when he’s duped of his money in a “jobs-in–Dubai” scheme. The film follows Siddharth’s life as time and again he encounters Jaleel at various points in his life and he’s forced to play Carrom and win for the money. Love, agony, despair, losses, wins, deaths, betrayals and money Surya strikes the game of his life for each one of these coins… some he pots, some he loses.
Striker is set apart by its out-of-the-box storyline… quite frankly it’s a very basic and simple story… but that’s the beauty of it. Striker just tells the story of this man Surya and his life and its ups and downs. It’s honest, real, crude and at times hard hitting. The performances in the film are simply mind blowing especially Siddharth, he is fantastic… a few scenes really stand out especially the one in which he grieves over the death of a family member... brilliant performance. After Siddharth is Aditya Pancholi he’s resurfacing after a hiatus of nearly 6 years! We last saw him in Musafir in 2004 but among all his films I think Striker is his best performance till date. He’s perfect as the gangster who grows with Surya from their first interaction at a local carrom place when Surya’s just a small boy to their first interaction when he’s an adult… Aditya Pancholi blazes with danger, menace and power and the scar on his face adds to the whole gangster value. Seema Biswas aptly plays Surya’s mother while Vidya Malavde does a fine job playing his sister. Ankur Vikal performs well as the best friend who’s always getting Surya in trouble.
Though Striker has a good tale to tell but it can get boring at times because albeit the short length the script doesn’t have enough masala to keep the plot crisp. There are some subplots which feel unfinished like the track of Surya and Noorie where Surya doesn’t even try to find out what happened to the love of his life or the track about Anupam Kher’s character meeting with arch villain Jaleel… this one looks forced and completely unexplained. Also, one is always wondering as to where this story is going but if you don’t look for an underlying message or a continuous plot and see it just as the life of this young man Surya then you really appreciate the film.
The music of the film is very pleasing and doesn’t interfere with the plot.
Overall I’d say Striker is a good effort for something different on celluloid by Chandan Arora and for the amazing performances and a “pakka mumbaiite” story this one is worth a watch.
Rating – 3/5.