‘Gold’ review: This Gold does not glitter

There is a compelling idea at the heart of Gold: how the Partition of 1947 didn’t just split a nation and its people into two but also divided our sports, teams and players. The film, however, gives just a tantalising glimpse of it and prefers to stay on firmly in the familiar, oft-seen “sports-stoking-nationalism” genre. Which is by all means is fine. The tale of India’s first win at the Olympics as an independent nation, the sense of divine justice in snatching the gold medal from its coloniser is in itself perfect stuff for goosebump-inducing mainstream cinema. However, an extreme dullness, disconnect and lack of passion permeates all through the film, with only the last few minutes — a goal saved, a few scored — providing some tension and engagement.

  • Director: Reema Kagti
  • Cast: Akshay Kumar, Mouni Roy, Kunal Kapoor, Vineet Kumar Singh, Sunny Kaushal, Amit Sadh
  • Run Time: 153.42 minutes
  • Storyline: Fictional take on India’s first victory in the Olympics as an independent nation, snatching the field hockey gold from Britain in London in 1948

Not once does the film do anything fresh to the template — the same old “do sau saal ki ghulami (200 years of slavery)” chest-beating, jingoistic claptrap and convenient use of the flag and the National Anthem to acquire an emotional spine that it otherwise so completely lacks. I was constantly reminded of Lagaan (2001)—Bhuwan building his ragtag team from the scratch as against the talent scouting across India by manager Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar)—and Chak De India (2007) when it comes to the “country before the states and regions” premise or in nod to the Tricolour. However, in the other two films the mainstream aesthetics tied up well with freshness of ideas and their on-screen articulation. Here everything seems half-hearted. In those two, even the most minor of characters left an impression, here it’s Das alone who hogs the show.

Some scenes feel strangely disjointed. Long after the film I kept wondering if the Buddhist monastery sequences had more to them than what met our eyes. There is a staginess, not just in recreating the period but also the self-consciousness with which the actors go about their performances. The casting of Mouni Roy, as Das’ wife Monobina is inexplicable — her lips and body language have a life of their own, with no roots in the period her character belongs to. There are a few moments when Vineet Kumar Singh and Sunny Kaushal shine. They are the saving graces of the film who should have got more screen time and their characters more depth and probe.

Forget the cringing Bengali stereotyping, the deliberate and desperate rolling your “o”s accent and the drunken, lifting-up-the-dhoti dance in the name of showing eccentricity, it’s the self-imposed, self-aware righteousness with which Akshay Kumar is insisting on being the Neo Mr Bharat, film after film, that is now beginning to bore and grate. Someone please rescue him from being the inspirational conscience keeper of contemporary shining India and take him back to entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 5:09:54 AM |

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