- BOTTOM LINE: Impressive performances in a story that needed more novelty
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Sports|
What is the Story about?
Mohan Kumar, the father of two teenage sons Radha and Manju, leaves no stone unturned to turn his kids into the cricketing stars of tomorrow. The sons show signs of wilting under his pressure but oblige to his demands. So particular is the dad about making their sporting future work that he takes loans, sells assets to shift their base to Mumbai. He’s tirelessly hopeful that the kids will fall under the eyes of the cricket team selectors soon. What do his sons want though? The journey from a small town to Mumbai, scraping past the struggles within the system and managing to stay afloat with the minimal financial resources, the young men don’t have it easy.
The story is told through the eyes of child-actors Mohammad Samad and Yash Dholye (who play Manju and Radha respectively) and the series works more or less because of their performances alone. The on-screen brothers complement each other very well and it’s hard not to feel for them when they go through the forced cricketing rigmarole. Mohammad Samad has the tougher role between the two and his performance has a far-reaching impact because of his use of histrionics and body language to convey his reluctance to turn into a cricketing professional. Rajesh Tailang’s role as an assertive father has several grey shades to it and his nuanced performance does a fine job in mirroring the concerns of a small-town parent wanting to see his children succeed at any cost.
Direction By Udayan Prasad?
Popular Indian-born British director Udayan Prasad makes his entry into an Indian television series with Selection Day, bringing to life a story based on Aravind Adiga’s novel by the same name. It’s a formidable start for the filmmaker whose measured treatment of the story, gives a sense of dignity to his characters, despite their cardboard-like characterization. The dynamics between the relationship of the brothers through the episodes have a real-life tinge to them and feel heartfelt.
The story though could have aided him much better, because the plot neither offers new insight into the cricketing system nor the journey of the two underprivileged kids, fighting their inner demons in a big bad world. That’s precisely the problem associated with the sports genre in filmmaking. We only notice two categories of people in the film, the exploiters and the gullible lot. The director does his best to rise above these cliches and adds some visual flavor to the familiar backdrop. However, the supernatural angle to the tale could have been handled with more poise. The first season ends on a cliffhanger, promising some bite in the upcoming episodes.
Mahesh Manjrekar, Ratna Pathak Shah play uni-dimensional supporting roles in helping the children discover their identity in Selection Day and they literally can sleepwalk through parts like these. Shiv Pandit gets an interesting opportunity to play Lord Subrahmanyam in the story. Though his physicality suits the role right, he appears too unsettled as an actor to play a God who’s above everything. Akshay Oberoi comes up with a confident performance as a debt-ridden corporate professional. Karanvir Malhotra, as the rich-spoilt brat in the school, is convincing too.
Music and other departments?
Shashwat Sachdev is a handful with the music score that sustains the tempo of the narrative in critical junctures. Soumik Mukherjee’s cinematography neither outshines the story nor underwhelms, it simply fits the bill and that’s not a bad thing at all. The writer Marston Bloom, who’s done the screen-adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s novel here ought to have induced some heightened drama and intrigue to the episodes. As of now, there’s not much chutzpah in the story to enthuse a viewer to watch the series.
A relevant take on parental pressure
Comes with all the cliches associated with the sports genre
The absence of any drama
Black and white characterisation
Will you recommend it?
Selection Day Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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