Bollywood was never known for its sports films till Shah Rukh Khan and a bunch of female hockey players burst on to the scene. Ever since then, we have had Mary Kom, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Brothers.
With Saala Khadoos , we have India’s answer to Million Dollar Baby – the tale of a mercurial boxing coach who aims to turn an uncouth, foul-mouthed but truly talented girl into a champion. The Clint Eastwood film earned acclaim and Oscars, Sudha Kongara Prasad’s film will probably not reach that pinnacle.
R Madhavan and boxer-turned-actor Ritika Singh form the unlikely guru-shishya pair who will have to weather administrative apathy and sports politics to emerge victorious. The film can be watched just for the performances.
Madhavan is brilliant as the coach who may have missed the bus but now wants to live his dream through his protégé. Ritika delivers in her debut as the expressive Madhi. The fact that she is trained in MMA comes across in the fight scenes.
However, the film’s weak script and treatment lets them down. There are no nail-biting scenes and the drama inside the ring is also lacking. The film may be on boxing but it lacks the punches.