Maniac training a rebel, says the corrupt villain in this week’s surprise gem.
Saala Khadoos, simultaneously released in Tamil Version ‘Irudhi Suttru‘, is a simplistic boxing film that has all the traits a sport films offer : rise of the underdog, redemption of a disgraced coach, untimely striking romance playing a hurdle. Thankfully what makes the film apart is their care-free, progressive tone.
Adi Tomar (R Madhavan), foul mouthed chronic misogynist boxing coach, is deviously transferred to Chennai by Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain) as a weapon to avenge, to pick up the best boxing champion as a chance to redeem his career. Amongst the group of female boxers – whom he doesn’t see any spark – finds potential in feisty fisher-woman Madhi (Ritika Singh), sister of Luxmi (Mumtaz Sorcar) participating in the boxing selection.
Madhi is more than what meets the eye, She is a hell of a rebel and doesn’t confine to any norm set up and dares to challenge coach. Being a hot-headed of insanity, Adi too never gives up polishing her skills with an aggressive approach and therein lies the journey of an affectionate relation that forms between them.
Saala Khadoos sticks, like I’ve mentioned earlier, to familiarity yet thankfully seldom falls into the trap of boredom. Director Sudha Kongara fresh coats the plot that address issues with more sensibility, sans sugarcoating it – like Corruption in selections of candidates, sexual harassment in the hands of officials, student’s leaning romantically towards mentor, unspoken dispute & jealousy between siblings, Progressive maternal figure over father who fails to see a bright future in a child. The boxing scenes are filmed with real authenticity and while one can predict the winner in the finale boxing match, you find yourself thrilled because it’s shot in a way never done before.
Debutant Ritika Singh has an infectious screen presence and delivers indeed a knockout performance as Madhi; she not only displays her impressive boxing skills but also slip marvelously in depth of the character we can’t help but root for. Zakir Hussain is terrific as corrupt big shot Dev Khatri. MK Raina and Naseer lends a wonderful support as the Adi and Madhi’s confidante respectively.
Mumtaz Sorcar is convincing as protagonist’s sister who’s dream to make it big in boxing hits a roadblock when she sees her sister outshining her, the scene where she confronts Madhi for the said reason in the canteen room is uncompromisingly scripted. The actress who plays Madhi and Luxmi’s mother deserves a special mention as she is seen to be more progressive and encouraging then her husband who derives sadistic pleasure from humiliating the family.
Film, however, belongs to R.Madhavan. He is remarkable as the foul mouthed aggressive coach. He seems to have had great fun playing the role as it required him to undergo physical transformation with shaggy hair, heavily rugged physic and not surprisingly, cements his versatility with panache.
Despite plagued with melodrama, Saala Khadoos is refreshingly fun film with great moments and incredible performance. It’s also a film Madhavan can proudly own it as his film that proves he is an actor we want to see more often onscreen.