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So honest, so touching



HIGHLY INSPIRED: Iqbal

Iqbal
Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Naseeruddin Shah, Shweta Prasad, Girish Karnad.
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor.
Genre: Feel-good drama
Storyline: It is about the grit of an 18-year-old boy, with disability, to find a place in the Indian cricket team.
Bottomline: It bowls you over. You can't help but admire Nagesh Kukunoor.

There's a certain honesty about Kukunoor's films that makes them instantly likeable. ``Iqbal" has to be Kukunoor's best work till date and one of the best films of all times. Every frame oozes inspiration, every scene comes alive with candid ingenuity.

``Iqbal" is the story of an 18-year old boy who dreams of making it to the Indian cricket team. The fact that he cannot speak or hear is just a matter of academic interest. It's the attitude with which Kukunoor handles disability without ever making you feel sorry for Iqbal, that takes him beyond all set boundaries of filmmaking.

Right from the very first frame, ``Iqbal" is an authentic film about the true-blue son of the soil who never says die.

Shreyas Talpade as Iqbal is the find of the year. The young man epitomises innocence, his face speaks volumes, even when he's not talking at all — from enthusiasm to learn the game to the grit to not give up Shreyas portrays it all with conviction and credibility, with the ease of a veteran.

Shweta Prasad as his bespectacled sister Khadija is endearing, as she holds her own against first-rate performers such as Shreyas and Naseeruddin Shah. Naseer comes up with yet another brilliant portrayal as Mohit, a disillusioned alcoholic, who transforms into a spirited coach, albeit hesitantly.

Even the supporting cast of Iqbal's adorable mother (Prateeksha Lonkar) and disapproving, struggling farmer father Anwar (Yatin Karyekar) come up with wonderful performances. Only Girish Karnad as Guruji seems a little rigid and the character too remains a little ambiguous as you are left wondering if he's Mohit's coach or team-mate or both (given that Mohit and Kapil Dev too call him Guruji but Iqbal finds both of them in a team photograph).

The lingering moments in the film are several. The way the mother, son and daughter hide their passion for the game from the cricket-hating father is adorable just like the bond between Khadija and Mohit after she initially disapproves of his ways. Technically too, ``Iqbal" is well-framed with a pretty neat background score. The KK number ``Aashayien" tugs at the heart-strings.

SUDHISH KAMATH

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