Director: Sohail Khan
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Amy Jackson, Arbaaz Khan, Seema Biswas, Jas Arora, Nikitan Dheer
In the game of golf, albatross is a score where the player sinks his ball into the cup ‘three strokes below the par’ (meaning three strokes less than the par score of the hole). But have you ever seen crowds go crazy with dhol and dance on a golf course? No. That only happens on a cricket ground.
Before making the final strike in Freaky Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui says he will make the final strike with a sixer and that is exactly what he does - both in and for the film. Sohail Khan’s latest directorial venture brings out an unseen side of the actor we would love to see more.
*Claps and whistles*.
Freaky Ali is the story of Ali (Siddiqui) who is a salesman at a small undergarments shop and is kicked out of his job just 10 minutes into the film. He takes to extortion before his talent as a golfer is discovered. The journey from a small ‘basti’ to playing in a golf championship is what Khan narrates through his film. It marks several firsts for Siddiqui - playing the main lead in a ‘commercial’ film, his first dance number and his first comedy.
With an actor as versatile as Siddiqui headlining the film, expectations are certainly high. How well does the movie match them?
In Freaky Ali, Nawaz is the ‘gali ka’ cricket-star who can hit four six in four balls to ensure his team wins!
Freaky Ali opens with Siddiqui’s now legendary ‘chaddi-chaddi’ as we see him trying his best to sell underwears on the street. For the next 30 minutes, we kept wondering what made Siddiqui sign the film. From a very Amitabh-Bachchan-from-the 70’s-style introduction (a short monologue in front of God. *Yawn*) to being the neighbourhood cricket star and claiming to be the fighter against destiny - the film moves in a cliched, rushed manner that gets on the nerves and fails to establish the numerous characters that keep entering the frame.
Thankfully, Siddiqui, the actor, soon overcomes the banal storyline and right from the moment he starts his training to become a golfer, we start enjoying his presence. Co-writers Khan and Raj Shaandilya have come up with a modern, fun-filled screenplay that makes the cliched plot not just bearable but enjoyable.
Sample some of the gems:
This is how Arbaaz describes the game of golf when Siddiqui asks him: “‘Gulf’? Ye ameer ka kanche jaisa khel hai. Isme ek ball ko gaddhe me daalte hain.” (Golf is like the rich man’s game of marbles. You need to sink a ball in a hole.)
When an attendant asks Siddiqui what would he like, he retorts: “Bandra me do sau gaj ka plot chahiye, dilaega? Nahi na? To puchh na khane me kya lenge?(I would like a 100 yards plot in Bandra, will you get it for me? No, so why don’t you just ask what would I like to eat?)”
And every time someone asks Siddiqui to ‘shut up’, he just retorts ‘pantss down’.
As for the performance, Siddiqui proves once again that he is the star when it comes to acting. Seema Biswas, who plays his foster mom, is good but only in parts because she has her own share of over-the-top melodrama.
But there is this competition of over-acting between Nikitan Dheer and Jas Arora. While Dheer plays a goon, Arora is the reigning golf champion. So much so that even our hero keeps telling them, “Aajkal aise kaun baat karta hai - amer-gareeb ..ye, wo?” and “Tujhe cricket me hona chahiye, bahut over karta hai”.
Despite the cliches and melodrama, we found Freaky Ali worth the time and money. From the ‘talented actor’ for the intelligentsia to the common man’s entertainer, Siddiqui is one star we love.