Movie Review: SAY SALAAM INDIA ...

By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

imageSometimes, small films [in terms of budget, setting, face-value] speak

louder than big films. SAY SALAAM INDIA is one such film!

Sports-based themes aren’t new to Hindi movies, although they

haven’t been attempted frequently. In the recent past, JO JEETA WOHI

SIKANDAR and LAGAAN and more recently, IQBAL and HATTRICK

made an effort to club a sport and story in those two hours.

On face-value, the expectations from SAY SALAAM INDIA are zilch

because [a] There’s zero hype for the film and [b] It abounds in first-

timers. From its producers to director to a majority of faces on the screen,

SAY SALAAM INDIA is their debut vehicle. But never judge a book by

its cover. This one is a truly well-made film!

SAY SALAAM INDIA reminds you of three films mainly -- JO


underdogs and the hardships they face when they chase their dreams. It’s

about the clash between the haves and have-nots. And if you get the drama

right in such films, the viewer is forced to root for the underdogs. That’s

what happens here as well.

Yet, despite the merits, certain things are beyond anyone’s control.

The film’s release period seemed appropriate till last week, but after India’s

exit from the World Cup and the dejection all around, a ‘cricket movie’ is a

complete put-off.

Also, for any film to stand on its feet, it ought to be promoted well.

There has to be at least some awareness. It’s important to make a good

film, but it’s equally important to ensure that it reaches out to as many

people as possible. In this case, the promotion as well as awareness is


To sum up, SAY SALAAM INDIA is an honest attempt, but its fate at

the ticket window is sealed for the above-mentioned reasons.

SAY SALAAM INDIA revolves around a group of four boys and

their passion for cricket. The boys come from humble backgrounds and

limited resources, but what they have is a zeal for the game and undeniable

natural talent.

They study in the local school where the most important sport on

agenda is wrestling, taught by Wrestling Guru Surinder Huda [Manoj

Pahwa], a man driven by hatred for cricket because in his eyes it is cricket

that is responsible for destroying traditional sports like Kushti, Kabbadi

and Hockey.

Hari Sadu [Sanjay Suri], a cricket fanatic, believes that gully cricket is

to be played with a similar commitment as any other level of cricket. His

new job is to coach the Royal Heritage team [an elite school] to win their

sixth state championship, but the headstrong, arrogant members of the

school team are more impressed with Sachin’s Ferrari than his batting skills

and hard work behind it.

This adds to the already simmering tension leading to a final

showdown where Hari Sadu is wrongly accused and thrown out by the

members of the school trust. He’s replaced by Harry Oberoi [Milind

Soman], who is more of a suave fixer from the cricket world than a coach,

but suits the image and profile of the school.

Hari Sadu is determined to make a local team to take on the cudgel at

the inter-school challenge. How he develops a cricketing eleven from the

wrestling team at the local school, overcoming various hurdles to take on

the Royal Heritage School at the inter-school challenge, is the crux of the


SAY SALAAM INDIA is Subhash Kapoor’s directorial debut and

you’ve to admire two things about the storyteller. One, he has the courage

to tell an honest story without bowing down to market diktats and two, he

says it exceedingly well. Sure, there have been cricket-centric movies and

the benchmark is really high, but Kapoor’s take is as convincing as those


There’re points in the narrative that touch your heart, sadden and

gladden you later. There are clap-trap moments as well, especially the

penultimate 20-minute cricket match, and you end up being one of the

spectators rooting for the best team. That’s why this movie works and

works so beautifully.

On the flip side, the movie stagnates in the second hour with a few

repetitive and unwanted scenes. The Sanjay Suri-Sandhya Mridul track, for

instance, stands out like a sore thumb. Also, the pace drops midway, but

picks up again in the climax.

There’s no scope for music in an enterprise like this, but the tracks

playing in the background [music: Gaurav Dayal] are in sync with the mood

of the film. Special mention must be made of the background score –

Gaurav Dayal [effective], cinematography – Fasahat Khan [appealing] and

editing – M. Rafique [crisp].

The performances spring a pleasant surprise. Sanjay Suri, a

dependable actor, is in top form yet again. It’s sad that film-makers haven’t

woken up to this talent yet. Milind Soman comes in much later and he also

pitches in a superior performance. Most importantly, he fits the role to the

T. But why this bearded, untidy look, Milind?

The film has a bunch of new characters, but the ones who stand out

are Aditya Seal [playing Siddharth, the rich, spoilt brat], Mandhar Subhash

[Viru] and Anuj Pandit [Guri]. All three are excellent. Prateek Jain [Mahipal]

and Madhur Mittal [Shakeel] are alright. Manoj Pahwa is fantastic yet again

and provides ample laughs. Sachin Khedekar is alright. Vinay Pathak gets

limited scope. Shraddha Nigam is effective. Sandhya Mridul is


On the whole, SAY SALAAM INDIA is an honest attempt, but is

bogged down by the period of release. Also, the poor promotion coupled

with lack of face-value will result in SAY SALAAM INDIA getting

marginalized at the ticket window. Rating: 2.5

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