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Little Master
Aug 28, 2005 10:27 AM 2089 Views
(Updated Aug 28, 2005 10:27 AM)





After the disaster called Mangal Pandey, it is wonderfully relieving to come across a film like Iqbal. Ketan Mehta took the name of a famous freedom fighter and decided to talk about sati, slavery, whores and disenchanted Scottish soldiers instead; and in the process,even gave everyone a peep into his mammary-obsessed sensibilities as a director.

Kukunoor’s film is all about his protagonist and his single-minded obsession to bowl for his country. Iqbal is deaf and mute – but you are not expected to squeeze out the tears because of this. He is poor – again no reason for you to pity him. Instead you are introduced to a boy whose dreams are so passionately felt, they are all that counts really. As you follow the story of his difficult journey towards achieving his dreams, you get that rare thing in hindi cinema – a feeling of being genuinely involved. Iqbal’s world, though a small one, has some very real people. Each of these characters is honestly sketched. However short a role, no one is shortchanged to accommodate anything but the story. His Father, mother and sister,each add a unique perspective to his obsession. But it is his sister, played by Sweta Prasad who brings in the charm . Remember her from makdee as the “panga na le” girl? She is simply fantastic here too.

The story is not a new one – a determined but disadvantaged youngster seeks to fulfil his dreams. The only person who can help him is a social underdog. But thanks to their commitment to a single vision they rise beyond their individual incapacities and find purpose and fulfilment. Quite a few Hollywood films have worked on this outline. Yet this film manages to be original. More importantly, it is a sincere, heartfelt film. The director’s conviction shines brightest in this tale.

But the award goes to the performances. Shreyas Talpade as the simple, yet fiercely determined Iqbal, Naseerudin Shah as the reluctant coach, Girish Karnad as the deal-making coach, and Sweta Prasad as Iqbal’s sister have all turned in fin-tuned performances. The actors who play Iqbal’s parents are equally good. Watching Naseer after such a long time would be reward in itself. But here he gets a meaty, worthy role that you can seriously appreciate. Girish Karnad is his flawless self. It says a lot about Kukkunoor’s abilities as a direcor that he could manage to make such a to-the-point film even when such stalwarts were involved. May his tribe increase!

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