New Delhi : Over the years, he has earned the tag of a 'lover boy' and a 'serial kisser' in Bollywood.
It is, therefore, with a degree of scepticism that one ventures out to watch Emraan Hashmi play the role of Mohammed Azharuddin, one of India's most flamboyant cricket captains. For all the naysayers who may have doubted his ability to pull off the complex character, Emraan, however, springs a surprise. Azhar' sees Emraan 'live' the character of Azharuddin brilliantly, portraying the agony and the pain experienced by the former cricket captain as he faces charges of match fixing. Coming up with a class act, Emraan completely transforms himself into the character of Azhar. Born into a Hyderabadi family, a young Mohammad Azharuddin is convinced by his Naanajaan (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) that he will become a great cricketer some day and play 100 test matches for team India. Soon, Azhar turns out to be a brilliant batsman and India’s high run-scorer, thanks to his talent. He also becomes a young captain of the Indian cricket team. With his professional life on track, Azhar’s family decides, it’s time for him to get marriage. He meets Naureen (Prachi Desai) in an arrange marriage set up. The two soon tie the knot and his cricketing career keeps soaring. However, the. fame starts to play with his head and he gets dazzled by the riches. The introvert Ajju becomes the more outgoing, suave Azhar flashing expensive watches and stylishly lifted collars. On a tour to London, he meets the Hindi cinema’s famed beauty Sangeeta (Nargis Fakhri). Initially being well cautious about his marital status, Azhar unintentionally falls for Sangeeta. The duo fall in love and he soon announces it to the world by dedicating her his Man of the Match award. The journey of his fall begins when he meets a bookie named M K Sharma (Rajesh Sharma) and is pulled into a match fixing. Tongues start wagging, the match fixing scandal takes the country by storm and in his quest for clearing his name and the ignominious life ban, Azhar decides to take the battle to the Court. What follows is an eight-year battle at the court with Azhar challenging the decision over life ban on cricket. He is represented by his under confident lawyer friend Reddy (Kunal Kapoor) while the prosecution lawyer is the fiery Meera (Lara Dutta), an erstwhile diehard Azhar fan. Director Tony D souza, a self confessed fan of Azharuddin - has brilliantly captured the various highs and lows in the life of the cricketer - his rise from his humble roots in Hyderabad to becoming one of the most successful cricketers of the country and his sudden fall from grace after being beset with match fixing allegations. What is especially interesting to see the filmmaker captured the little nuances in the personality of Azharuddin - his swagger, his flamboyance and his style as evidenced for example by his high collars. The romantic moments between Azhar and Naureen also come across as sweet. The film also has several emotional moments that bring tears in the eyes of the audience.
The film has an engaging screenplay that keeps one on the edge of their seats. The film also boasts of excellent dialogues by Rajat Arora. Dialogues like 'Jab farak nahin padta zindagi mein, farak tabhi aata hai' are especially impressive. In terms of performances, Emraan Hashmi comes up with a class act as Azharuddin. Not only has he made an effort to develop a body build like that of the cricketer, he has also brought alive on screen the style and the flamboyance of the former cricket captain. He is also brilliant in emotional scenes, portraying the agony and pain of Azharuddin as he battles allegations of match fixing, making the audience feel for him. Undoubtedly it is Emraan's career best performance which could fetch him many awards. Prachi Desai also pitches in with an impressive performance as Naureen. She comes across as endearing. Nargus Fakri looks glamorous as Sangeeta. Kunal Roy Kapoor and Lara Dutta are also good in the role of Azhar's lawyer and the prosecution lawyer respectively. Gautam Gulati as Ravi Shastri is Okay . The music of the film by Pritam and Amal Malik is good with songs like 'Itni si baat hai' , Bol do na zara' and 'Jeetne ke liye' taking the story forward. The classic 'Oye Oye' (Tridev) is an eye-catching number. In short, 'Azhar' keeps you hooked with its engaging story and brilliant performances .
Rating: 4/5: one for direction by Tony D'Souza, one for career best performance by Emraan, one for the engaging screenplay and one for good music.