- BOTTOM LINE: A Town’s Love Affair with Football
|Platform: ZEE5||Genre: Sports|
What Is the Story About?
The fate of one of West Bengal’s most popular local football teams, Bombers Fc is left hanging in the balance when 10 of its members lose their lives in an unfortunate bus accident. Badol Gupta, the captain of the team, happens to be its only surviving member. Meanwhile, the team is at risk of losing its home ground at Chandan Nagar, which has fallen under the eyes of the State’s Urban Development Minister Manik Das Gupta. Given the threat they face about losing their football ground to a proposal of a luxury mall construction, the support staff of the team leaves no stone unturned to pick the best players for Bombers Fc besides hunting for their coach. Selection issues, ego clashes, a doping scandal, a teammate’s death, how are Bombers Fc going to endure these roadblocks to their success?
Varun Mitra, in the role of Badal Gupta, is the face of the series in many ways. We witness the story through his eyes and stay on the same page as he fails, rises, falters and bounces back with equal gusto. The role, as a tainted captain, a jilted lover, is so rich in its emotional graph and the actor makes good use of his range to perform well. He’s nearly the only actor who behaves like a real-life football player in the series; his on-field body language and his physicality bring in a lot of authenticity to his portrayal.
Ranvir Shorey, as the football team coach, is convincing when he’s not talking about the game. His role is extremely similar to Shah Rukh’s in Chak De India and the actor does too much mumbo-jumbo on the field to make his presence felt. When he’s a doting father, Ranvir is very convincing and is effortless in being a natural. The same ease doesn’t somehow translate to football though.
Bombers may not be the most original sports drama we would witness in the digital format but it keeps us engaged for the most part. The twists, the drama, the on-field, and off-field complications are packaged with enough tact to win our attention. Very rarely have we seen sports films or content beyond tennis, badminton or cricket find space in the Indian entertainment arena; so, football makes for a lively, unexplored backdrop for a series set in the interiors of West Bengal.
The director Vishal Furia definitely knows a thing or two about establishing diverse characters effectively. Despite multiple sub-plots and a handful of complexities to explore, the director shows he has a clear head while dealing with his protagonists and showcasing their personality traits in the most minimalistic fashion. Even if the series is hampered by the black-and-white portrayal of politicians (who are always corrupt), betting barons (who talk of fixing matches within a dressing room?), we are drawn towards the screenplay (which gets better in the latter half).
It’s a positive sign that sports content is increasingly giving weight to represent homosexuality in its truest colours while addressing their concerns with grace and dignity. Bombers is still not without its jarring moments, like the sex video that a football player wants to show his teammates to teach a thing or two about manliness, the uncalled-for misogynist talk and slut-shaming of women. Another problem with Bombers despite all the good it does is its inability to move away from the regular cliches of a sports drama – focusing on the rise-fall-rise of a sports team, the initial friction among team members followed by the bonhomie in addition to showcasing that the entire system is capitalistic and corrupt.
Bombers, on the whole, is bitter-sweet and the viewing experience feels like a love-hate-love relationship. We know what its problems are, what its positives are and yet, we like it in totality.
Aahana Kumra gets a realistic role as the troubled girlfriend of Badol Gupta. She stays through the thick and the thin of his career, the two go through severe emotional lows and highs in their relationship, come together, break up and go through phases a lot of times. So, there’s a real-life relatability to her part, that she brings forward with a certain ease. Sapna Pabbi, as a documentary filmmaker and journalist, has an appealing screen-presence though her role could have been fleshed out better. Zakir Hussain, though impressive, feels stereotyped and sleepwalks in the typical sports mentor/critic role he’s got in movies like Chak De and Saala Khadoos.
There are interesting quirks in several characters that some of the supporting actors manage to bag. There’s a wild sportsman who’s driven more by lust than love, a chef who can’t pay his bills, a sex worker’s son who discovers his liking for men in his football stint, a son waiting to express his passion for football to his father- and many more on similar lines. Each of their identities is weaved into the story with some purpose and it’s Meiyang Chang who generates quite a bit of impression. Prince Narula, in a part where he’s at loggerheads with the captain, is frankly underutilised in an ambiguously written role. Shivam Patil looks handsome, dances like a dream, but doesn’t have much to perform in his role as a petty thief-turned-footballer.
Music and Other Departments?
Ishaan Chhabra, Digvijay Singh Pariyar and Mallar Sen score the music for the series, which is essentially its lifeline too. Beyond Selection Day, there hasn’t been many web series where the composers have done so well (like in Bombers) to capture the pulse of a game through their music. The cinematography is reasonably adequate for the theme of the series-taking us through the streets of Chandan Nagar, the State’s love for football, it’s unique architecture among a few. Though the series takes time to grow on a viewer, it ends with a bang. The editing is generally seamless and the flow of the series is smooth.
Interesting take on the nuances of football
Varun Mitra’s performance
The title song, background score
Very slow to take off
The similarity of the plot to Chak De India
Will You Recommend It?
Yes, with reservations
Bombers Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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