the director- Srijit Mukherjee
artist- Taapsee Pannu, Vijay Raj, Inayat Verma, Brijendra Kala
“You are seeing this field, aren’t all the pains here small, just playing is big… play.” Coach Sampath (Vijay Raj) talks to Mithali Raj (Taapsee Pannu) sitting next to him before the match to be played for the election in the national team. Due to some reasons in personal life, Mithali breaks down in the field and makes it rain for fours and sixes. Often biopics have been seen to focus more on the individual’s personal struggles, his ups and downs and victories, but here the struggle is with the cricketing circumstances and mindset. The ‘Women in Blue’ battle is on for the identity of the ‘Women in Blue’ in the gentlemen’s game world.
‘Shabash Mithu’ traces the journey of Mithali Raj from childhood to leading India to the final of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup. Taapsee Pannu had said in her interview that this is not a cricket film, but the story of a girl who plays cricket. Seeing the film, he seems to be right. Here you may not be able to experience the thrill of a cricket match, but the fight of a girl with a strong intention will be seen.
It begins in the year 1990, when Mithali befriends Noori in a Bharatnatyam class. Noori is the one who first tests, recognizes and encourages Mithali’s talent. One day both the girls are noticed by the cricket coach Sampat sir and they keep both of them for training under him. While Mithali is studying in an open-minded home, Noori continues her cricket coaching by lying at home for 7 years. Time passes and the day comes to get selected in the national team. The coach has full faith in the talent of both the girls. But at the last moment, Noori gets married and Mithali reaches the Indian women’s cricket team. From here his different journey begins. Despite the good performance, the women’s team has to face the constant non-cooperation of the cricket board and the public’s neglect. But Mithali fights.. for equality. She fights to get the same respect for the women’s team in the gentlemen’s world. She answers everyone by scoring century after century with her bat and there comes a time when brilliant leadership takes India to the final of the World Cup.
Taapsee Pannu tries her best to embody the character of Mithali Raj on an emotional level. She does not imitate Mithali, but tries to show her feelings in her own way, which Mithali must have felt at that point of her life. The special thing is that Taapsee looks comfortable with the bat. But as much as Taapsee has to be praised, so will child artist Inayat Verma, who played Mithali’s childhood character. Kasturi Jagnam looks best in the role of Mithali’s friendship Noori. Vijay Raj leaves a place in his heart as Mithali’s coach Sampath.
Many biopic films have been made on sportspersons in Bollywood. Somehow everyone’s story seems to be the same in some way or the other. So what could director Srijit Mukherjee do to make ‘Shabaash Mithu’ special? He kept the approach of the film such that the story does not rest on a single match or on a climax, but it is a journey that really needs to be seen. But Srijit Mukherjee has missed out on making this 2 hour 40 minute long story thrilling enough. The story progresses so slowly that the characters lack enthusiasm. At the same time, the monologue given by Mithali in the climax is reminiscent of Chak De India.
The music of the film is distracting. The songs are average and work to increase the runtime of the film. Sirsa Ray’s cinematography is good. Taapsee Pannu’s choreography has been done very well especially with the bat. A. Sreekar Prasad may have tied the film a bit in the editing, but he was not successful here. If seen, the strongest aspect of the film is its cast.
what’s good what’s bad
The film which is about 2 hours 40 minutes long has an interesting opening. The rapport between Mithu and his friend Noori is beautiful and captivating. At the same time, it is nice to see his fascination for cricket and his training with coach Sampath. But after the interval, the pace of the film starts to distract your attention. This is the reason why well done Mithu lags behind in creating adventure. Be it a cricket match, or any event in Mithali’s life.
This story based on the life of Mithali Raj tells you to have the courage to do something different and to be full of self-confidence on the strength of your talent. If you have courage and self-confidence, even the toughest battles can be fought. However, work could have been done on making the content of the film a little more exciting. 3 stars to ‘Shabash Mithu’ starring Taapsee Pannu from Filmbeat.
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Taapsee Pannu starrer Mithali Raj’s biopic Shabaash Mithu is right in it’s intent but fails to engage throughout due to it’s long runtime.
Story first published: Friday, July 15, 2022, 2:31 [IST]