Critic’s Rating : 3.0 / 5
Gujarat 11 Movie Review : aisy Shah’s sports drama gives a feeling of déjà vu all the way
Story: An ex-football champion takes up the unusual challenge of training juvenile home boys for a state-level football tournament, while coming face-to-face with scars from her past.
Review: Sub-inspector Divya Chauhan (Daisy Shah) is an honest and fearless cop who still hasn’t ‘figured out’ the intricacies of her department. However, when she nabs a culprit in a high-profile drug case who also happens to be the nephew of an influential politician, she is transferred to the juvenile delinquents’ home. Divya decides to help the boys by giving them a new lease of life, by training them for a state-level football championship.
Let’s start with the plus points. The film marks the debut of Bollywood actress Daisy Shah and is touted to be the first sports drama film made in Dhollywood. At many places, the movie feels like watching a Gujarati version of Chak De! India, Dangal and Mardaani. Overall, it is an earnest attempt to make a watchable sports drama.
Daisy Shah as sub-inspector Divya Chauhan is an ex-football champion turned cop due to an injury, which she received when she was the captain of the women’s football team a few years back. Divya is an efficient, smart, honest, fearless and a no-nonsense cop and when she cracks a high-profile drug case involving the nephew of an influential politician, she is transferred to a juvenile boys’ home instead of being dismissed. Thus begins her life’s biggest match; to transform these boys and give them the right direction to begin life again.
The opening sequence is about a dandiya night, where our girl is swaying to the beats but in a matter of a few minutes, we understand that her dance moves were just a farce to catch the drug dealer. The cat and mouse chase, blended with some cool action scenes, makes it a great start. Adorned in traditional wear, Daisy nails the dance and action sequence, with equal poise, charm, and being badass. But the sports drama starts to lose steam as we move forward because the plot feels very predictable.
Daisy’s quest to form a team takes her to the major cities of Gujarat. The makers have smartly shown the back story of each boy, not draining you and yet giving you all the information. But the problem begins when all these boys are under one roof-the same-old boy gang fights, their rebellious streak, making fun of a slightly effeminate boy or a boy with a lisp, or body-shaming a fat boy and misbehaving with the women in the team.
If the writers could have introduced a parallel track showing how to handle bullying and body shaming, it could have been a refreshing and engaging storyline. But after just one small inconvenience, all the problems are sorted. Even if the track where a male superintendent feels jealous of Divya’s disciplinary ways was explored a bit more, the predictable story could have been more interesting for sure.
By the time you reach the finals, it seems like a Gujarati rip-off of all the sports dramas made earlier, where the team of underdogs wins. The director could have infused some interesting tracks but with so many actors (players and leads), it might have gone all wrong too. Also, the last speech by Daisy in the boys’ dressing room totally gives you the feel of the famous ‘70-minute’ speech by Shah Rukh Khan from Chak De! India.
Pratik Gandhi as Nirmal, Divya’s childhood friend and a potential love interest, is totally wasted here. It’s probably time to give the whole love interest angle a break in a sports drama. Kavin Dave as Divya’s assistant, with a typical accent, has more screen presence than Pratik. Dave as a pot-bellied head constable, trying to provide all the support to Divya and being the bridge between her and the boys, has done a good job. Roopkumar Rathod’s music and Dilip Rawal’s lyrics are good. Suyog Churi’s background score suited the story. The editing could have been tighter though.
Before Gujarat 11, director Jayant Gilatar directed well-known movies like Chalk n Duster (2016) starring Juhi Chawla and Shabana Azmi and Natsamrat (2018) starring Siddharth Randeria which garnered rave reviews.Be it the game sequences or dance sequences, Daisy has given this role her 100% and it is evident. Debuting with a sports drama, with the film riding entirely on her shoulders, must have been a daunting task. But her earnest performance and the whole nail-biting climax certainly make it a decent one-time watch. The movie is currently being streamed on Amazon Prime.
Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the sub scores below.