Critic’s Rating : 3.0 / 5
Shabaash Mithu Movie Review : A slow-paced drama about the women in blue
REVIEW: Srijit Mukherji’s Shabaash Mithu, within the first few minutes of its runtime, tries to hold your hand and pull you deep inside the life that Mithali Raj has led. The story goes from little Mithali being a Bharatnatyam dancer to a cricketer, and eventually emerging as one of our country’s youngest players to represent India internationally in a sport, dominated by the male counterparts.
At every stage throughout its runtime, the movie proactively tries to highlight the underlying sentiment that the team must have felt – from being belittled to being denied equal opportunities, and the fight that Mithali put up for various such issues. The film gradually blends Mithali’s own journey in cricket with that of the women’s national team fighting for its spot under the sun. It’s an emotional underdog story, minus the jingoistic tropes and chest-thumping moments.
Taapsee Pannu makes a great effort to internalise Mithali Raj as a person. The highlight of her performance is that she doesn’t mimic the cricketer, but she sets her foot into her shoes, absorbs and displays the sentiments that Mithali has possibly felt at every juncture in her life. And she does that without the support of any hefty dialoguebaazi. She also seems at ease when she is on field playing out the cricket portions. Minus the archival footage, the cricket portions have been choreographed well, though one would have loved to see more of that. Subtle humour has been used in parts of the film which helps the narrative. The dialogues have been kept in sync with the tonality and the approach of the film. Taapsee’s monologue in the climax, somehow, reminds one of Shah Rukh Khan’s Sattar-Minute monologue from Chak De! India. Another plus are the two child actors, Inayat Verma and Kasturi Jagnam, who are quite pleasant to watch.
It’s one thing when a film has a lengthy runtime, and another when a film feels longer than its runtime. In this case, it’s the latter. Shabaash Mithu feels like it’s been going on for way longer than its actual runtime, which is under three hours. The songs in the film barely contribute towards enhancing the narrative; in fact, they further slow down the pace. While it’s understandable that the central subject of the film is known to be a less expressive person, nothing stops the screenplay from being crafted with a little more enthusiasm and spunk.
Another aspect that really needed more attention was the way the other important characters are crafted – they could have contributed largely to bring out more layers and nuances in Mithali’s personal and professional journey. The movie doesn’t amply showcase those edge-of-the-seat, nail-biting moments that would have unfolded in her life, especially during the 2017 world cup. Those keenly waiting to finally watch a movie revolving around Mithali, one of women’s cricket’s most iconic contemporary players, will certainly be left asking for more. Maybe a rerun of one of her milestone matches will help.