Striker DVD Cover Art

Written by: Sunita Rajwar, Chandan Arora
Directed by: Chandan Arora
Starring: Siddharth, Ankur Vikal, Aditya Pancholi, Nicolette Bird

My Advice: It's an ordinary affair and you would not miss much skipping this.

Striker is directed by Chandan Arora and has Siddharth (a very successful leading man of the Telugu and Tamil Film industry) in the lead. This is Siddharth's first film as a lead in the Hindi film industry. Chandan, who has previously made excellent character-oriented movies depicting human emotions in a convincing way (Main Meri Patni Aur Woh and Main Madhuri Dixit Bannana Chahati Hu), comes back with a film revolving around the 1992 Mumbai Riots. This is a theme which is oft repeated and got the best reception in Mani Rathnam's Bombay. However, these two films are as different as chalk and cheese. Coming back to Striker, the film starts off incredibly well and sustains it for the first hour, and then it's simply downhill from there.

The story, set in 1992, rocks back and forth between the past and its present. It is the story of Suryakant Sarang (Siddharth), who grows up along with his siblings in a Mumbai suburb. This area is Muslim dominant but is very peaceful, as there is a lot of brotherly love between people of different religions. During his childhood, he picks up a keen interest in the game of Carom and with his elder brother Chandrakant (Anup Soni) who mentors him. Jaleel (Aditya Pancholi) is a Rowdy Sheeter who runs all the illegal activities in the area including betting on carom games. Zaid (Ankur Vikal) is Surya's childhood friend who is deeply committed to his friendship and is a part of Jaleel's gang. He makes a living out of illegal activities, much to the dislike of Surya.

Knowing Surya's expertise in Carom, Zaid influences Surya to participate in carom matches organized by Jaleel, who gets wealthy folks to place bets on the matches. Surya starts winning matches and making money. He prefers to play as an independent player as opposed to playing for Jaleel due to a previous incident involving his brother Chandrakant and Jaleel during his childhood. As they play on, both Surya and Zaid get deeply sucked into Jaleel's world of betting and money. Do they manage to get themselves out of the betting ring and Jaleel's deceitful ways? And does the communal violence manage to break the peace and brotherly peace prevalent in the suburb? The events unfold as the movie approaches its climax set during the Mumbai riots.

Performance-wise, Siddharth gives yet another power packed turn (after Rang De Basanti). He brings out the wide range of emotions and frustrations of Surya in an excellent way. His dialogue delivery is worth mentioning, as he brings in the Marathi touch and feel, which was very much required given the setting. Ankur Vikal again plays his part of a trusted friend (Zaid) superbly. They share a great on-screen rapport, which was again necessary as the film moves around their friendship. Nicolette Bird as Noorie, Surya's neighbour, has a small role and gives all the beautiful expressions she possibly can, very much the expectation of the role she's played. Not many dialogues written for her though! Aditya Pancholi as the wicked Jaleel is TOP CLASS. He acts well, his introduction scene is one of the best in the movie, although he is sidelined in the second half. He ensures that his performance is noticed and that we dislike his character for sure. Anupam Kher as the upright cop who works on bringing down the baddies of the suburb does justice to his role--he should have been tired of doing the same role over and over but he's a perfectionist in this.

Chandan Arora's brilliance as a director who can depict emotions exceedingly well is showcased in a few scenes involving Surya and Noorie. However, the story simply lacks the punch it so desperately needed to have for a movie with this theme. One can't do much if the script lets you down. The movie starts off and is amazing; given the screenplay with a narration style where things move between past and present, it builds up a good amount of suspense. The first half of the movie is gripping, and then things suddenly stagnate. It painfully drags on in the second half coming to an ending which is simply clichéd. It completely lets down the promise of the first half and makes the film plain overall. There are a few songs, played in the background, and the movie has a lot of music directors, but there was not one song which will linger in the mind.

Bottom line, it's an ordinary affair and you would not miss much skipping this. As for me, I am getting back to another viewing of Bombay!