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Striker

Cast: Siddharth, Aditya Pancholi, Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas, Ankur Vikal, Vidya Malvade, Anoop Soni, Padmapriya, Nicolette Bird
Producer: Chandan Arora
Director: Chandan Arora
Story: Chandan Arora
Cinematographer: P S Vinod
Music Directors: Vishal Bhardwaj, Amit Trivedi, Swanand Kirkire, Shailendra Barve, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Shailendra Barve, Blaaze
Banners: Studio 18, Indian Films, Makefilms, Chandan Arora Films

The game of carrom is an abridged version of billiards where a board replaces the table; wooden coins replace balls while a disc shaped striker, the size of a cookie, takes the place of the cue.  This game is popular to the extent of being an obsession in India, especially the slums and chawls of Mumbai and surrounding satellite towns and suburbs.

Inspired by watching his older brother, Chandrakant play carrom, Suryakant aka Surya makes the most of his illness and time at home to himself excel in the game and go on to win the national juniors title. As the age and time to bear responsibilities come, Surya acts as a delivery boy for a local goldsmith, meanwhile pursuing a dream to go to Dubai and make his fortune within three years.  Carrom has been a forgotten past.  But, Surya faces a setback. The recruiting agency for Dubai jobs dupes him and he is poorer by more than 20,000 rupees. The only way to recover this loss is to play carrom for prize money, suggests Zaid (Ankur Vikal), Surya’s childhood friend. Thus begins a journey of a carrom board king in a world bordering on crime and criminals as well as communal forces, represented here by Jaleel (Aditya Pancholi).

So far so good; this is a story of a normal boy skirting the challenges of life and surviving. Pray, why the communal riots angle all of a sudden and to what justification? Why is Jaleel creating communal tension between two communities, provoking both in turn? Only reason one can think of is, to make the protagonist Surya emerge as a hero, who destroyed evil.

Director Chandan Arora has a keen eye for details and realism. The theme here limits his scope for acceptance. Striker is more limited to a regional pocket and devoid of appealing a large section except as a study of cinema. Music, used as background to move the story, is good. Dialogue is mostly local flavour but good.

Performances are universally good. Siddharth as an arrogant and angry young lad is effective. Aditya Pancholi, seen after a long gap, is sinister enough as the villain. Anupam Kher underplays an alert cop to good effect. Seema Biswas plays a Maharashtrian housewife very convincingly. Anup Soni, Vidya Malvade and Ankur Vikal leave a mark.  Padmapriya and Nicolette Bird are okay.
Striker is a film for discerning few, so few it may hardly register at the box office.

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