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Knock on wood

entertainment Updated: Mar 26, 2010 23:05 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Striker
Indian Films/Studio 18, Rs 199

Bombay, Bombay, December 1992. You can smell the impending violence in the air in the Muslim-majority ghetto of Malvani. Suryakant Sarang, away from home for long, decides to return to curfewed Malvani at this point of post-Babri tension. Before we know how things progress, writer-producer-director Chandan Arora swivels the story back to May 1977 to (re)introduce us to the young(er) Surya entering the portals of the Ideal Carrom Club with his elder brother Chandrakant.

And so we enter the skidding, ricocheting world in which the game of carrom becomes a metaphor for negotiating through this world. Striker is an old-style film -- you can almost see the Manmohan Desai-ness in it. But it's not over-the-topness that makes this box-office flop (and India’s first YouTube-premiered film) such a rivetting movie. Arora’s knack for nuanced urban details and just-a-notch-heightened tone do the trick.

Satya is played with chutzpah by (Dhoni-looking) Telugu actor Siddharth. An unrecognisable Aditya Pancholi plays Jaleel, a Malvani dada, with brilliant understated menace. Ankur Vikal plays Zaid, Satya’s childishly reckless buddy, with rousing hangdog charm. This is Slumdog Millionaire stripped of its jiggery and Jai Ho and is a hard-boiled, wood-cracking-against-wood movie from the same jerry can as Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s powerful film, Amores Perros.

The extra feature showing the 'making of the film' with interviews with the director, crew and actors is a must-watch. Just be careful of the DVD copy you buy. Unlike Arora’s seamless flashbacks and flashforwards this copy kept getting stuck between frames.