Shabaash Mithu: Taapsee Pannu Gives A Knockout Performance

Shabaash Mithu: Taapsee Pannu Gives A Knockout Performance
Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Mumtaz Sorcar, Vijay Raaz.
Directed by: Srijit Mukherji
Genre: Drama/Sport
Duration: 2h 36m

The plot focuses on Mithali Raj, former captain of Women's Indian Cricket team. Her early life and the days of struggle. The movie also sheds light on cricket, a game loved by the Indian masses that is in fact predominantly gender biased and inhospitable for women.

What works for the film?

Catering to the genre and themes

The movie is not a mere portrayal, it is a mirror to the current state of affairs in the world of women's sports, and how much effect Mithali Raj brought in. Director Srijit Mukherji takes that responsibility seriously. The sports drama genre is delivered with decorum. The stakes are high and time is slipping away, every situation is flight or fight and it is in the hands of the Mithali Raj to make her worth known. Srijit Mukherji incorporates this theme seamlessly into the play. The genre of sports drama lives up to its expectations. 

Breaking the glass ceiling, defenestration of pitting women against women trope and showcasing Mithali Raj's cool yet tactical approach in the game were some of the best plot points.

The pivotal roles

Taapsee Pannu as Mithali Raj takes control of the narrative. She programs her emotions as she gets into the skin of her character. "Play this game like no one will ever forget you after this!" A dialogue from this film that was taken very seriously by Taapsee Pannu. She doesn't drop the audience's attention even for a split second.She puts forth her performance with a lot of conviction. A genuine effort to showcase her range as an actor. There is an unexplained calmness in her role, she molds herself around the part seamlessly capturing its essence.

Vijay Raaz has a brief but impressive role. He is poignant yet intimidating as ever while portraying his character. He delivers some of the most emotionally encompassing scenes in the movie. The character's protective and stern nature and the actor's watchful eyes elevate this role. He is an earnest actor who has time and again proved his dependability. He may not have a lengthy role but leaves a mark with his part.

Visual vocabulary and second half

The composition, color, and lighting all align without any fault. Cinematographer Sirsha Ray sets the tone of the film through his visual vocabulary. It is through his vision that we see both a warm world and a world devoid of any color. This contrast helps us live through the journey of the characters. The fast pacing in the first half alongside Srijit Mukherji's visualization makes up for a riveting ride. 

Original soundtrack

The music is composed by Amit Trivedi, while lyrics are penned by Swanand Kirkire, Kausar Munir, Charan and Raghav M Kumar. Romy, Charan, Kailash Kher and Ruchika lend their voices to this film. The original soundtrack of Shabaash Mithu doesn't distract the story but blends with its narrative. It is exhilarating and tremendous! 'Hindustan Meri Jaan' by Kailash Kher, Ruchika has to be a favorite from the tracklisting. It conveys the flavor of the story and makes your heart pound.

What doesn't work for the film?

Screenplay and dialogues

Only two minor complaints, out of which first are the dialogues. They are a hit and a miss and don't carry the plot in an efficient way. Sometimes the words need not be fancy or poetic. They need to only deliver the message and themes. In the case of this movie, it tries too hard to set itself apart but in vain.

Editing and slow establishment of dynamics

Probably the biggest problem out of the two with this movie. Most biographies suffer from this. World building takes time due to the introduction, Characterization, and setting up of the acts. Transporting us through different points in time isn't easy. The perspective of each stage may sometimes appear haphazard. Only a few stories in recent years of the same genre have aced it. Unfortunately, this film isn't one of them. The pacing takes a hit because either some plot points take time to create impact while others are rushed. In less than three hours several chapters of a person's life need to be presented without losing the audience which is not a plain sailing. Even though the world built is worth watching, it takes time to set up and at the same time, the clock is clicking to cover every plot point. The movie could use controlled pacing to deliver an impeccable product.

Final verdict?

Despite a few storytelling flaws, Shabaash Mithu doesn't fail to portray the inspiring life of Mithali Raj. Watch this film for her. This movie doesn't mince words and gives us the stark reality of women's treatment in sports by everyone around them.

Stars: 3/5