After all it was about cricket, after all it was about a fighter and it came from a director, whose works I have liked for the simplicity and reality they have depicted. Hyderabad Blues is an all-time favourite. Part 2 was okay, Rockford was decent, and I quite liked Teen Deewarein.
Iqbal comes up as his finest for me, as it dealt with a subject that is so close to my heart.
I will not write about the plot because everyone has already seen it. If you have been as unlucky as me to have not caught it for so long, don’t waste a moment and please see it! I was highly impressed by Shreyas Talpade. I’ve seen the guy in a few Marathi serials and honestly, I was never a big fan of his, but after Iqbal I’m in complete awe. So simple yet so powerful; no dialogues yet he conveyed every emotion, every expression to the tee. Such a joy it was to watch this fine actor!
You cried with him, you smiled with him, you jumped with excitement at his little joys, and you felt his anguish when he went through rejections. Yet, not once did you feel pity or sympathy because he was handicapped. That to me was the biggest winner scored by Nagesh Kukoonor. He did not glorify his handicap. It was one small hindrance and that was it. Nothing further. Neither the parents, nor his sis, or his coaches or team-mates thought it was a handicap. And there in lies the movie’s victory unlike Black.
Maybe, I’m being unfair by comparing the two. However, now having seen Iqbal, Black suddenly looks small in front of it. Black made you symapthise and pity the protagonist, Iqbal made you forget that the protagonist was handicapped. Black went on harping about the struggle and strife she faced cause of her handicap and how glorious she was in all that she did. Iqbal simply told you that no matter what the handicap, one can always excel if one wants to, provided one learns to fight and work hard for it. Success does not come easy; you have to pay a huge price for it.
Black felt larger than life, the whole set, the look, the magnum opus. Iqbal stuck to realities of life.
One scene, which I feel now stands out, is the one where Bhansali proves that miracles happen out of the blue. I don’t deny it, but even then and now it was very difficult for me to digest. How on earth does Michelle type 40 words in a minute, in a fit of anger, when till that very moment she was struggling getting 10 words per min? On the other hand Iqbal does not get the ball to hit the stumps when he faces the batsman for the first time between him and the stumps. He practices daily and then only gets it right.
I’m being a little biased as I’m no fan of Sanjya Leela Bhansali. I am not too much in awe of filmmakers who make larger than life movies. Karan Johar being another one!
Anyways back to the movie. Shweta Prasad and Pratiksha Lonkar played their parts well. I especially loved the way Pratiksha Lonkar tells Naseer with a huge smile, ‘Woh agar naumeed hua to main aapko jaan se mar daloongi’ (If he gets disappointed again I will kill you), and when Kamal the star of the cricket academy calls Iqbal ‘Behra Goonga Sala’(Deaf, dumb you jerk), Shweta Prasad walks up and says,‘Tum kitne bewakoof hon ke tum bhool gaye ki mein sun sakti hoon'( You are such a fool that you forgot that I can listen); and later she and Iqbal gesture to each other, leaving the arrogant Kamal to figure out their language!
Naseer was a delight, as he always is. Yours truly, had the privilege of seeing this fine actor in flesh and blood, perform in his Urdu home production ‘Ismat Aapa Ke Naam’. The crowds he drew, the applause he received and the laughter he created was mind-blowing. The country is blessed to have had an actor like him. What a natural! He does it with such ease that you can’t help but wonder how?
Girish Karnad, another fine actor was in fine form. He underplayed his character so well and with such realism, that you really landed up hating him.
Sadly the system does work that way, and most of the movie was what happens in reality. Life is not that fair. But the movie did highlight that there are ways to overcome the bureaucratic system, and you cannot hide or curb true talent for long. When one door closes there is another one that opens up, we just have to be aware to see the one that is opened. Just the way Naseer thought that all doors were shut when Iqbal did not make it to the team he went for, but realized that another one had opened when the selectors told him that Iqbal could get a look into the Andhra Ranji team.
I also loved the way Nagesh Kukoonoor touched upon the fine aspects of cricket. The Indian team could learn a thing or two from it. There is a fine difference when the batsman comes between you and the stumps, you can keep knocking off stumps all day long but once a batsman comes into the picture, if you fail to read his mind, you fail to deliver the same result.
Naseer’s advice to Iqbal, to think with your heart and play with your mind. To put the ball in the right place such that you make the batsman play to your strength. Learn to read the batsman’s mind, learn to anticipate his next move. Watch the batsman till the end and then decide your delivery at the last minute. Cricket is not merely played on the field, it is also played in the mind and that’s why strategy is important. The Chakravuyh concept in the film was quite interesting.
The way he ended the film was just perfect, the frame froze at the right moment. It is only for us to conclude the heights Iqbal sailed.
And to end it I felt, Iqbal was all about:
One man’s aspirations and his struggle to achieve his dream, the one thing he truly loved. No hurdles, no handicap, no disappointments would deter him from achieving it, for he believed he could, for he knew he had people around him who believed he could!
A mother’s strong belief and a sister’s faith.
A father’s struggle to make his handicapped son lead a respectful life. His realization of his son’s dream and the courage to accept his faults.
A man lost in his past, who finally found a reason to live, in the boy who aspired to be what he wanted to.
A man determined not to let the young boy to die a death like he did; a boy who had taught him to fight again.
True that many things in life are difficult, but they are not impossible, because even the word impossible says I’m possible:-)
Kutch paane ki ho aas aas
Kutch armaan ho jo khaas khaas
Har koshish mein ho waar waar
Kare dariyao ko aar paar
Toofano ko chir ke
Manzilo ko chin le
Aashaayen khile dil ki
Ummeedein hase dil ki
Ab mushkil nahi kutch bhi
Nahi kutch bhi
Don’t believe me? Go watch Iqbal and you shall!
I love the song, I simply love it! This one and Bavra Mann from Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi is playing continuously on my mp3 player.
P.S: Did any one of you notice, how the arrogant Kamal in the movie had an uncanny resemblance to India’s finest and most honest, sincere players: THE WALL! I think Kukoonor got it a wee bit wrong there:-(