Stand By - Movie review

Published: Aug 27, 2011, 07:02 IST | Shaheen Parkar

Dir: Sanjay Surkar Cast: Adinath Kothare, Siddharth Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Dalip Tahil

U; Sports drama
Dir: Sanjay Surkar
Cast: Adinath Kothare, Siddharth Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Dalip Tahil

National Award-winning director Sanjay Surkar is known for his critically-acclaimed Marathi films (Chowkat Raja, Raosaheb, Tu Tithe Ne and Ghara Baher), but his crossover to Hindi films deserves anything but applause.
While making a point about political interference and corruption (the flavour of the season!) in football, Stand By leans heavily towards Bollywood melodrama. This is most unnecessary in what could have been a hard-hitting look at what ails Indian sports. The end result is a lacklustre game.

Two buddies -- Rahul Narvekar (Kothare) and Shekhar Varma (Kher) -- are state-level football players vying for a position in the national squad. Their friendship suffers a blow when Rahul makes it to the Indian team as captain, while Shekhar is named the stand by. This leads to animosity, as Shekhar is not willing to eat humble pie. His industrialist dad pulls all strings (business and political) to ensure that his son does not stay a reserve player. This is done at the cost of  Rahul's football career, which is eclipsed by a forced injury and personal turmoil.

Though Stand By begins on a promising note about the nefarious activities between the sports administrators and politicians, what mars it is the predictable script.

Penned by Surkar along with Pravin Tarde, you know what to expect. And what jerks it even more is the Remo D'Souza-choreographed song and dance sequences juxtaposed whenever there is a confrontation between the authorities and players.

Some scenes, like the coach telling the team that they play for India and not for their states as they introduce themselves and how cash-rich the favoured Indian sport cricket is, are reminders of Chak De! India. Though the harsh reality behind the team selection is depicted, there is nothing that holds interest in the second half as there is a hurry to clear the issue and put the squad into the bus enroute the airport for the big match.

Both the boys -- Adinath as the good guy and Siddharth as the baddie -- do their bits routinely, while the supporting cast of Khedekar and Tahil as their fathers do what they can in a plot flawed by taut storytelling. 
The coach tells the administrators: cricket is a gentleman's game, while football is a man's game. If only Stand By had lived up to his (and our) expectations.

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