4.0 / 5
Kaun Pravin Tambe? is based on the life of cricketer Pravin Tambe, who made history by being selected for the IPL at the age of 41. Tambe had not even played at the National or the Ranji level before, though he was widely known in the club cricket world . He was a wild card who came through, getting a hattrick against the KKR team in his first match itself. He went on to get the most wickets in that year’s tournament. Later, he realized his dream of becoming a Ranji player for Mumbai. He went to play in the T10 leagues and The Caribbean Premiere League and is still actively involved with cricket at 50 plus. His was an underdog story waiting to be told and director Jayprad Desai has done a great job of bringing it to celluloid.
Pravin Tambe (Shreyas Talpade) is shown to be a well-liked young man adored by everyone in his chawl. He has grown up loving cricket with his heart and mind. Interestingly, he does not dream of playing for the Indian cricket team but wants to be part of the Mumbai Ranji team when he grows up. He’s the quintessential grassroots cricketer. The gully boy whose idea of fun is to gather around his friends in a maidan and just play the sport all day long. Director Jayprad Desai introduces us to the world of tournaments like Times Shield and Kanga League, where the heart of Mumbai’s cricket truly bleeds. The players who play in such tournaments do not endorse international brands, live in lofty homes or have private coaches guiding them at each step. They are men who have day jobs as clerks, supervisors, salesmen or even bartenders. They play the sport for sheer passion. More often than not, they get picked up by various companies for their proficiency in the sport. They may rub shoulders off and on with the giants but are destined to live in their shadow.
Playing under the mentorship of an indulgent boss (Arif Zakaria), Pravin helps his team reach the final of the club tournament but even his best efforts are ignored by Mumbai selectors. He doesn’t let go of his dream, despite hardships. He loses employment and has to succumb to doing odd jobs, even moonlighting as a waiter in a dance bar. But he continues to play at gully cricket tournaments, winning prizes galore. Fortune shines on him in the form of former teammate Abey Kuruvilla (Nitin Rao) who offers him a job as a building supervisor at a stadium. He goes back to playing in the club league, helping his team top the A division. He starts working with bowling coach Vidyadhar Paradkar (Ashish Vidyarthi), who asks him to change from a medium pacer to a spin bowler. That’s when he starts having more success as a bowler and finally gets selected in the IPL. As written earlier, his debut season for the Rajasthan Royals team was nothing short of miraculous. The underdog finally slayed his demons and emerged victorious.
Director Jayprad Desai and his writers thankfully haven’t written a sentimental melodrama but have kept the proceedings light, making use of humor to lighten the situation when things get heavy. What shines through is Pravin’s never-say-die spirit, his ability to seek a positive out of every situation.
Life offers us both heroes and villains. If the heroes in Pravin’s life were his supportive father and brother, then the villain is sports journalist Rajat Sanyal (Parambrata Chatterjee), who isn’t ever convinced about Pravin’s talent and always has a negative take about him. Rajat’s transformation into a supporter forms one of the most heartwarming scenes in the film. Parambrata is an underrated actor who should be seen often.The scene where he humiliates Pravin for working in a dance bar is executed through subtle gestures. Nothing much is said but the intent comes on strong. The film’s ensemble cast puts in as much effort as the main lead. Aashish Vidyarthy is just brilliant as the strict coach who only cares for the betterment of his pupil. Powerhouses Anjali Patil and Chhaya Kadam play Pravin’s wife and mother respectively and are the very essence of a concerned wife and mother. They do nag him constantly but their love and concern are also genuine.
The film belongs to Shreyas Talpade. He began his journey as a cricketer in Iqbal (2005). It’s counted as one of the best roles of his life and now life has come a full circle 17 years later. Shreyas lives and breathes his character. We see him experiencing every shade of emotions that Pravin Tambe must have gone through as he struggled with failure time and again. His eyes never lose determination and there’s always a ready smile on his lips. Shreyas makes you root for Pravin and the joy when he scores a hattrick is palpable indeed.
Director Jayprad Desai has given us a pulsating human drama in the guise of a sports biopic. You won’t see great feats of sports here. It’s a film about a common man stoically accepting everything that’s thrown his way and just putting one foot after the other in the hope of one day crossing the winning line. It might not make you fall in love with cricket but will certainly make you look at life with fresh eyes…
Trailer: Kaun Pravin Tambe?
Pallabi Dey Purkayastha, April 1, 2022, 1:20 PM IST
3.5 / 5
STORY: Defying age — and society’s perception of what is deemed ‘normal’ — Pravin Tambe (Shreyas Talpade) becomes the first-ever Indian cricketer to mark his international debut in his 40s. Mind you: Tambe’s story is not for conformists, but those who believe in the magic of a promising tomorrow: come rain or shine.
REVIEW: In spirituality, it is said that once a conscious creator sets an intention, he / she exhibits unwavering faith — even when their present is in shambles — till that desire manifests in the material world. If that theory is ever put to test, Pravin Tambe would be a living embodiment of that. At 41, the real-life cricketer launched his international cricketing career with the highly publicized Indian Premier League (IPL). No, he did not want gold or riches, only to play the coveted Ranji Trophy tournament once.
Jayprad Desai’s sports drama — albeit few misses — substantiates that when it comes to being plucked from obscurity, age is never a hindrance. One’s belief against that possibility, is.
Be it the rags-to-riches track or the premise of a quintessential stubborn sportsman bursting onto mainstream scene against all odds, these stories usually start from the end or vice versa. This one, however, opens with the back shot of a mystery man — turns out to be Parambrata Chattopadhyay, later — in Nauvari sari, nathni and a posture suggesting he’ll break into an elaborate Lavani (Maharasthrian dance, if you are wondering) any moment. The element of intrigue established right in that frame. The story, then, traces back to the origin of that initial scene, which revolves around a Pravin Tambe in the 80s, 90s all the way up to the moment he scores a hattrick in 2014.
Thanks to the popularity of the all-rounder in question, unlike ‘Dangal’, among others, Desai did not have to hype him up before throwing in that dramatic (good dramatic) climax. But, he did. In an attempt to distance itself from, and avoid comparisons to other sports sagas, writer Kiran Yadnyopavit surrenders the script to the enticing trappings of emotional dominance over technical details. Cinematically speaking, the duo needed to show more confidence on the source material and maybe start with the politics of the game: an open secret. And then proceed on to show the moral dilemmas of the man inside the cricketer. There’s the chawl, an aged mother tossing and turning over the uncertainty that looms over her son’s head, and a wife who is raising three kids — two by virtue of age, and the third by denial. Unorthodox stories demand out-of-the-box storytelling and ‘Kaun Pravin Tambe?’ deserved better, narrative-wise. That, and the exaggerated background score.
But, to no one’s surprise, Shreyas Talpade camouflages most of the inconsistencies with his restrained rage and hopeless optimism. Of course, being a Marathi, the actor glides into the life of an everyday Mumbaikar with utmost ease. In one scene, after being rebuked by his arch nemesis, Talpade’s Tambe offloads his years of pent-up frustration in a dresser, surrounded by powder-smeared faces — perhaps one wanted to be an actress and another a singer, all work at dance bars now; must be the early 2000s — and he implodes. That scene should have been the show-stealer, instead we watch him mourn his dwindling dreams from afar. After his impressive act in similar arrangements in ‘Iqbal’, this was a missed opportunity. What a pity!
Parambrata has, in recent years, carved a niche for himself as the bankable art house-y second-wheeling star to the protagonist. In ‘Tambe’, we are in awe of his range as an actor that has a dash of gray to his on-screen persona. Ashish Vidyarthi’s role of an offbeat coach is yet another character that is neither black, nor white. Playing Mrs. Tambe in the movie is Anjali Patil: a clean, confident avatar. Not that we would expect anything less from her.
Unless you are venturing into the sports biopic genre with ‘Kaun Pravin Tambe?’ – let’s be honest here — it will not leave you stupefied. What it will do is pump in a fresh dose of enthusiasm to chase your own dreams, and that in itself is an achievement. After all, as Vidyarthi puts it, “Life to go match, all you need is one good over. ”