Excel Entertainment’s Gold (UA) is a story set between 1936 and 1948. It deals with the sport of hockey.
Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar) is passionate about the game of hockey. He works for the Indian Hockey Federation and has been taking the Indian hockey team to participate in the Olympics. He feels saddened when it is the British national anthem that is played and the British national flag that flies high after the Indian hockey team wins in the Olympics. It is his dream to see the Indian national flag being unfurled at the Olympics but he understands that that would be possible only when the Britishers would stop ruling over India.
The World War II breaks out and looking to the unrest in the world, the Olympics are suspended for a few years. This breaks Tapan’s heart because nothing gives him more joy than India winning the Olympics. Here in India, the freedom movement is at its peak. In 1947, it is clear that India would gain independence soon. Around that time comes the news that the next Olympics would be held in 1948 in Britain. Tapan is ecstatic. He wants to revive the Indain hockey team. Although secretary of the Hockey Federation, Mehta (Atul Kale), has never been in Tapan’s favour, president Wadia (Darius Shroff) is willing to give Tapan a chance because he trusts his (Tapan’s) passion for the game. Just as Tapan is only gearing up to put together a great team comes the news that India would be divided into India and Pakistan. Some Muslim players, including Ismail (Vineet Kumar Singh), are forced to leave the country and move to Pakistan. A couple of players go away to Australia. In short, the Indian hockey team disintegrates and there seems to be no hope for the sport now. But then, ex-champion Samrat (Kunal Kapoor), who has devoted his life to training young players in the game, approaches Tapan and offers to train new players to form a national team. Surmounting all obstacles of cash crunch, place to stay and practice the game etc. Tapan and Samrat put together a team which is ready to participate innthe Olympics. But the frustrated Mehta is not the one who will allow Tapan’s dream of India winning the gold medal and the Indian tricolour being hoisted on Britain’s soil to be realised so easily. He plays the spoke in the wheel and creates more problems for the already problem-ridden team. Why, Mehta even stoops down to playing a horrendous game by ensuring that Tapan does not go to Britain with the team. Instead, Mehta accompanies the team to the Olympics.
What happens thereafter? Does the Indian hockey team win the gold medal and, in a manner of speaking, avenge the Britishers who had treated Indians as their slaves for hundreds of years?
Rajesh Devraj and Reema Kagti have penned a story that may not be novel as one has seen earlier films like Chak De! India and Lagaan but yet, it has a fair amount of freshness ass the problems and, therefore, the solutions are different. The story mixes the excitement of a sports drama and the patriotic flavour of a nationalist drama beautifully. Another good point about the story is that it keeps the audience engaged right from the start till the end. Yes, it moves at a somewhat slow pace in the first half and also gets a bit repetitive before interval but the second half moves at such a fast pace that it doesn’t give the viewers any time to think. Reema Kagti’s screenplay is both interesting and entertaining. If the game of hockey keeps the adrenaline rush high, the patriotic flavour ensures that the audiences feel a sense of pride everytime there is a reference to the Indian flag or the national pride. There are a couple of clap-trap scenes and a few in which the viewer experiences a terrific sense of patriotism engulf him. The post-interval portion, especially, is very exciting as it is devoted to formation of the new Indian hockey team and the obstacles that Tapan Das has to face, the Olympic matches, the drama in Britain and on the hockey field etc. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the second half keeps the viewers hooked to the drama completely and absolutely. Reema Kagti’s dialogues are very nice.
Akshay Kumar does a very fine job as Tapan Das. He is endearing in light scenes and very believable in the dramayic and serious ones. He gets into the skin of Tapan Das’ character and delivers yet another fine performance. His no-holds-barred dance in the ‘Chadh gayi hai’ song is creditable. Mouni Roy is lovely as Tapan’s wife. She plays the Bengali housewife with elan. Kunal Kapoor leaves a martk as hockey player Samrat who later turns a coach. Amit Sadh acts with a lot of conviction as Raghubir and deserves praise for being in character throughout. Vineet Kumar Singh is supremely believable as Imtiaz Ali Shah. His sincerity is evident in every scene he appears. Sunny Kaushal is first-rate as Himmat. If he is endearing as the romantic boy, he is also outstanding as the frustrated player on the hockey field in the Olympics. Atul Kale underplays wonderfully well as Hockey Federation secretary. He does an extremely praiseworthy job. Darius Shroff leaves a mark as Hockey Federation president Wadia. Nikita Dutta leaves a good mark as Himmat’s girlfriend, Simran. Praveen Jaiswal (as Bashir), Pavraj Singh Lochab (as Harvinder Singh), Varun Singh Rajput (as Aasim Bilal), Naresh Malik (as Sadiq Abdullah), Lester Redden (as Russell Fonseca), Varun Sharma (as Aman Singh), Vijayant Narayan (as Waheed Younis), Raman Roshan Das (as Darpan Mishra), Vijay Sharma (as the junior monk), aAgast Anand (as the senior monk), Udaybir Sandhu (as Devang Chaturvedi), Rohan Mhatre (as Chandan Awasthi), Krishan Tandon (as 1936 Indian team manager), Sunil Taneja, Paul Kitchen (both as 1936 Olympics commentators), Siddharth Pandey, Phil Blacker, Stewart Clegg, Jonathan Tweedie (all four as 1948 Olympics commentators), master Joshua Sequera (as young Raghubir), master Mandeep (as young Himmat) and the others lend able support.
Reema Kagti’s direction is very good. She has been able to recreate the era between 1936 and 1948 effectively. She has also been able to keep the audience hooked to the drama without losing interest. Music (Sachin-Jigar, with additional music by Arko and Tanishk Bagchi) is good. The ‘Chadh gayi hai’ is a very good mass-appealing song while the ‘Naino ne’ is melodious and the ‘Monobina’ number is also good. Lyrics (Javed Akhtar, Arko and Vayu) are of a very good standard. Song picturisations are effective. The ‘Chadh gayi hai’ song picturisation (by Bosco-Caesar) is very entertaining. The ‘Naino ne’ song and the ‘Monobina’ songs are also well picturised by Rekha Chinni Prakash and Bosco-Caesar respectively. Sachin-Jigar’s background music is pretty effective. Alvaro Gutierrez’s cinematography is excellent. Production designing (by Paul Rowan and Shailaja Sharma) deserves first-clas marks because the duo has been able to replicate an era gone by effectively. Anand Subaya’s editing is pretty sharp.
On the whole, Gold will definitely strike gold at the box-office. It will keep everyone — the audience, the producers, distributors and exhibitors — happy and beaming with joy. This one is yet another Rs. 100-crore film from Akshay Kumar.