- BOTTOM LINE
- An Inspirational Story Letdown by Cliched Execution
What is the Story about?
Born to an uneducated mother and a father whose physical handicap doesn’t let him work, Reshma Pathan is forced to learn life the hard way. Backing herself to be the breadwinner in a family of six people, young Reshma’s love for stunts and adventure across the streets helps the family scrape past their financial troubles to a reasonable extent. Little does Reshma know that she’s meant for greater things in life. One fine day, top Bollywood stunt director Azeem notices her daredevil efforts, only to offer her a red carpet entry into the film industry. The move is met with opposition by the near and dear, but Reshma is unfazed. She not only bails her family out of their problems but also earns her identity as the first-ever stuntwoman to have entered Bollywood.
The face of the film, Bidita Bag, pretty much strikes a similarity to the real-life stuntwoman Reshmi Pathan and beyond that, the actress also impresses with the conviction she invests into her portrayal. She’s completely at home during the action segments of the film and embodies both the physical and mental grit of Reshma. The only actor who has some scope for performance beyond Bidita is Chandan Roy Sanyal, cast as Reshma’s Bollywood godfather/stunt director Azeem. Though the character doesn’t have a great arc, Chandan’s performance is heartfelt and sincere at best.
Direction By Aditya Sarpotdar?
Director Aditya Sarpotdar’s fictionalized interpretation to the life of Bollywood’s first stuntwoman Reshma Pathan makes for an inspiring story indeed. However, The Sholay Girl is proof that not all inspiring stories necessarily translate into great films. The Sholay Girl is a middling narrative that proceeds like any other underdog victory-story, where the protagonist fights on despite all odds in his/her pursuit to succeed. The film, despite being a passable watch, hardly has a conflict that keeps you interested.
The director barely scratches the surface in capturing the emotional dimension to the story and doesn’t find it significant to explore the reason behind Reshma’s fascination for life-threatening stunts either. Though the nostalgic recreation of the 1970s era of Bollywood and the sequences that capture the on-set atmosphere in Mumbai ensure some interesting trivia, there’s no segment in the film where Reshma appears in any sort of trouble.
Aditya reserves his best sequence for the highly pulsating finale where Reshma passes off as Hema Malini’s body double on the sets of Sholay and carries out a risky stunt with huge grit and determination. The film also warrants your attention when it depicts segments of Reshma’s journey to fame in a male bastion, her firm ways to tackle men who try to exploit her. Sadly, none of the parts beyond Reshma’s character are established well, including her romantic interest.
Veteran actress Sujatha Sehgal (in the role of Reshma’s mother) has minimal screen presence and within the limited scope, brings dignity to her portions as a helpless mother who tries hard to bind the family together. Lagaan actor Aditya Lakhia’s performance as an insecure patriarch of a Muslim household doesn’t quite register in your minds. Television actor Vineet Raina, playing Reshma’s husband Shakur, did deserve a better role for his Bollywood debut.
Music and other departments?
The Sholay Girl thankfully does away with the need to include mandatory music numbers in a tight narrative such as this. The music score is efficient enough to drive home the soul of the film. With respect to other departments, the film passionately takes us into the 70s era with the right balance of props, costumes, and music that define the timeline. Vineet Malhotra’s cinematography is adequate too.
Bidita Bag’s performance
Adequate recreation of the 70s Bollywood era
The inspirational value in the story
Story force-fit into a regular template
The absence of emotional highs
Poorly written characters beyond the lead
Will you recommend it?
The Sholay Girl Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur