The Great Mumbai Hustle

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By Thani

Film » Striker
Director » Chandan Arora
Starring » Siddharth, Padmapriya, Aditya Pancholi, Seema

Beginning with his journey as a young carrom champion, the film expertly captures a time in Mumbai when conversations in recreational spaces across Mumbai would revolve around the only two options for the youth — a job in the plastic, gold and stock market, or Dubai.

When he gets cheated out of his Dubai dream, losing a large sum in the process, Surya is told by the scammers to hustle it back as a carrom player. In exploring this interesting sub-culture, Arora eschews the conventions of a sports movie and approaches it as a gangster film to explore how gangsters are invariably groomed in these holes.

Essentially a coming-ofage tale, Striker is imbued with interesting sub-plots, all of which are novel and seem inevitable when abruptly moved on to the next one. Striker sounds authentic using many English expressions that are an integral part of the non-English speaking populace in the city; which is precisely why Anushka Manchanda crooning English lyrics in a song doesn’t sound remixed at all. One of the best soundtracks in recent times, Chandan Arora employs the music judiciously in the film. He also masterfully directs the film. The way he sets up his scenes, and cuts them innovatively, is a sheer pleasure. For instance, when Surya is playing a high-stakes game of carrom, his cocaine-addict friend Zaid (Ankur Vikal) plays spectator, and the gangster Jaleel (Aditya Pancholi) observes and distracts them both, before all hell breaks loose.

Siddharth is impressive as Surya. Padmapriya excels in her brief but challenging role as a Koli barkeeper raped by Surya, who she was secretly in love with and had sheltered. As do Vidya Malavade as Surya’s elder sister, and Anupam Kher as the moral voice in an increasingly communalised police force. The performaces that stand-out, though, are Vikal and Pancholi.

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