Making a movie on sports isn’t easy. No wonder we don’t have many – leave aside good ones. It requires presenting one of the most active forms of entertainment, sports, as one of the most passive forms of entertainment, movies. One of the reasons behind difficulty is that the biggest interest generator factor in sports – who would win, cannot be recreated in movies. In movies, you know the protagonist will win. Movies don’t have advantage of unpredictability which sports have.
So a movie on sports has to build that thrill in other ways. How well that thrill is built decides how well the movie will come out. Viewer has to feel as if he is watching it all live, he has to be taken to an emotional ride, his adrenal has to be pumped with high entropy and he should witness a perfect climax. Movie has to create all the excitement sports do. It isn't an easy job.
Many movie makers have tried and failed. Some movie makers have tried and succeeded.
But there is one movie maker and his movie stands out.
He made Awwal Number. The best ever sports movie. Forget Money ball. Forget Million Dollar Baby. Forget Fighter. Forget Goal series. Once you watch Awwal Number, you will forget every other movie.
Awwal Number will give such a roller coaster ride to your emotions that you will never forget. You will get such an adrenal rush that it may rush out of your body. Awwal Number will make you forget the world.
Before you read any further, I would like to quote a story from Mahabharata. Dropadi asked God for a husband who had fourteen qualities. God told her that one man cannot possess all the qualities and gave her five husbands. You would've read it in Mahabharata. I am sure you don’t know the next part of this story.
God went back. He wondered why one man cannot have all the qualities. He modified his process. Dev Saab was born.
In Awwal Number, Dev Saab plays role of BCCI president who had been a cricketer himself, chairman of selectors, DGP of Mumbai police, he had been posted in border areas in the past, he has led anti-terrorist squad, he could fly choppers with equal aplomb, he could shoot from one chopper to another, he is excellent negotiator in hostage situations, had composed a super hit song in the past, he is brother of India’s best batsman.
To put things in perspective, Dev Saab’s role had shades of Rakesh Maria, N Srinivasan, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ajit Tendulkar, Anu Malik and Captain Gopinath.
Movie begins with Vikram Singh aka Vicky, president of BCCI, making an announcement about the third ODI between India and Australia. He announces that although India has lost first two ODIs to Australia, we can save some pride by winning the last ODI. He also announces that man of the match of third ODI will be gifted a Mercedes. Talk about motivation. In the end, he takes you to broadcast of practice match which would decide the playing eleven.
Yes. They are broadcasting the practice match. Live.
Team has to be selected for the third ODI. Selectors meeting takes place. Vicky is present there too – as part BCCI president, part selector. Confusion is between Ronny, a star cricketer who has five great years as international cricketers but is going through a lean patch (Yes, yes, Kohli. Ronny is also accused of sledging anyone and everyone) and Sunny, a rising superstar (No. He doesn’t even remotely look like Sanju Samson).
Ronny is played by Aditya Pancholi and Sunny, by Aamir Khan.
Ultimately selection comes down to Vicky who chooses Sunny over Ronny. When the last time BCCI president was decided fate of a certain player? Okay. I know your answer. Quiet now. Read on.
Ronny fumes. He says nation would go on frenzy and people of this democratic nation will force Vicky to get Ronny back.
No. Character’s name isn’t Kejriwal. It is Ronny.
Suddenly posters are spotted in the city that terrorists will blast the stadium during the third ODI. Nation goes in frenzy again. Mumbai DGP has gone on leave and isn’t traceable. Home ministry sends SOS to Vicky. Vicky takes charge – he used to be DGP Vikram Singh. He becomes DGP Vikram Singh.
Moment DGP Vikram Singh sees the posters, he knows exactly which terrorist group is involved. There is a flower printed on the posters – similar design was worn by a bartender in a party DGP had attended ages back.
“Vicky ki khaasiyat hai ki who jo cheej ek baar dekh leta hai, uski tasveer Vicky ke dimag mein chap jaati hai. Fir use waqt ki dhool dhundhla nahi kar sakti” (This is Vicky’s speciality that if he spots something, it gets etched in his mind. Dust of time cannot get it dusted)
He knows exactly who to call upon for interrogation – curator of the stadium and a certain Sundaram who is, as DGP puts it “multi multi multi multi multi millionaire”
DGP starts connecting the dots. Findings of his investigations shatter him. Main villain behind all this is none other than his own brother – Ronny. Incidentally, Ronny couldn’t take the disappointment of being dropped for last match, shook hands with some terrorists, planted explosives beneath the pitch and had plans of blasting everyone as the match goes on. I hope Manoj Tiwary never watches this movie. Never.
DGP starts looking for his brother. He finds him nowhere on the ground. He realizes that if he isn’t found on the ground, he must be in air. DGP rushes to Juhu Airbase. He sees a chopper has just taken off. He is told that his brother is on that chopper. He spots another chopper and enquires if there is a pilot available to fly it.
Pilot appears. Alas, he has his right hand injured so cannot fly the chopper. No worries. DGP tells him “Aap bas sath baith jaaiye. Kuch takniki baaten poochni hongi” (You just come and sit with me. All I will need to ask are some technical details)
DGP tells him “Ghabraiye nahi. Maine bahut udaye hain aise helicopters. Jaldi kijiye. Time nahi hai humare paas” (Don’t worry. I have flown many such helicopters. Hurry up. We don’t have time)
While DGP fights his battle in air, Sunny is fighting another battle on the ground. Australia has scored 275 and India needs to get one more than that in 40 overs.
Commentator Mr Wagle describes “Australia ne bahut bada score khada kiya hai. Agar Bharat 40 overs mein 275 runs bana leta hai to sayad haar tal sakti hai” (Australia has set a huge target. If India can score 275 runs in 40 overs, maybe they can avoid defeat). Talk about not counting your chickens before they hatch.
India loses 2 quick wickets. Sunny walks in to bat at 4. Have you seen this elsewhere? This is Goosebumps stuff.
DGP contacts Ronny on phone or something like that. Asks him to surrender. Ronny refuses.
India need 35 runs in 14 balls to win. Sunny is batting well. He is nearing his maiden ton.
DGP lets others in Ronny’s chopper know about Ronny’s plans. He asks them to snatch the bomb’s remote from Ronny. Ronny shoots everyone on his helicopter, including pilot. Pilot somehow manages to stay alive and fly the bird.
India needs 10 runs in 4 balls. Sunny hasn’t completed his 100 yet. I don’t know if Sunny is rotating strike or not. Maybe he isn’t. Maybe MSD watched Awwal Number in his childhood.
DGP again warns Ronny “Ronny, apne khel se gaddari mat karo Ronny” (Ronny, don’t betray your game). Ronny refuses to buzz.
DGP shoots Ronny and says “Ek Khiladi apne khel se kabhi gaddri nahi karta aur ek police wala apne farz se kabhi peeche nahi hatta” (A player never betrays his game and a policeman never runs away from his duty)
India needs to score 6 of the final ball. Opposition has a slip in place. Talk about having confidence in your bowling. Talk about aggressive captaincy. Talk about always thinking wickets. Yet, Sunny does it. He doesn't think too much about the slip fielder and hits the last ball for six. India wins.
The movie ends.
You are left exasperated. You are left exhausted. The movie drains you. Now get ready for a long lasting hangover.
Make no mistake. Awwal Number will sweep you off your feet. And as you will be about to fall down on your head, someone will rush to save you – it will be Dev Saab’s ghost. The same ghost would also be playing role of the floor beneath your ground, air surrounding you and the gravitational force.
Dev Saab is everywhere. He is everyone. He is everything.
Dev Saab is, well, Dev Saab.
Next Review in line - Censor, another of Dev Saab’s classic.