Before the film even begins, the opening credits a la a disclaimer note pops up stating that Azhar is not a direct biopic leads to the moment of us questioning within ourselves if the film could be any good. And, it isn't. Well, it's not too bad, actually. Azhar does have plenty of good moments. That said, there are few that stand out and are like, these aren't logical at any level in reality - or in fiction.
Azhar sets up the plot as soon as the film starts. Emraan Hashmi narrates his life; the former Indian cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin's life and tries to delve into the moments that shook the cricketing world and millions of fans.
Azhar is a film that explores the events leading up to the match-fixing scandal and shifts back and forth about his humble beginnings to make it into the National team, the highs and lows of becoming the Indian captain, his superstar status, the trials and tribulations in his personal life.
For a generation that knows current Indian captain M. S. Dhoni as 'Captain Cool', they will be surprised at how well Mohammad Azharuddin maintained his composure both on and off the field.
Does Azhar narrate a clear picture on Mohammad Azharuddin's life? The answer is YES and NO. Azhar is a story about the rise and fall and the redemption of the stylish superstar former Indian captain. The film does a relatively good job at balancing aspects in Azhar's life, but they do seem at certain times superficial. For instance, the logic behind Azhar choosing Sangeeta portrayed by Nargis Fakhri over his first wife Naureen played by Prachi Desai makes us question his logic on 'love'. His stance on why resorted to match-fixing is unbelievable to say the least.
Cricket is as we all know very well tantamount to a religion in India. The scenes which showcase the courtroom drama should have been more dramatic and aesthetic rather than trying to insert into the proceedings anything funny. Azhar's close friend and lawyer played by Kunaal Roy Kapur has a few good moments in the film, especially the dramatic dialogues which prove to be his strength. However, after a certain point of time, his comedic antics prove to be repetitive and unnecessary considering the context of the scenarios being played out on screen.
Azhar is a film that should have paid more attention to making the scenes feel realistic rather than making it cinematic which is where the film squanders away its potential. Tony D'Souza and Emraan Hashmi have poured their hearts out into making Azhar come to life as close as possible and the efforts do show. Emraan has done a really good job at mastering the stylish body language of Mohammad Azharuddin in the make-believe cricket scenes shown in the film. But, the film falls flat at many places. Prachi Desai has done a decent job with her role, but stands out in that one scene where she's broken after Azhar publicly announces his affection for Sangeeta. She gets the emotions right - of a heartbroken married woman to whom her husband's love meant the world. Nargis is stellar as always with her looks. However, the sultry actress needs to work on her acting; especially scenes that require the eyes to emote. She feels rather flat in emoting the necessary emotions. Lara Dutta needs to be complimented for choosing a role that finally has something to with acting. Some of the dialogues stand out for being philosophical and we enjoy them rather than cringe. The songs in the film's narrative composed by Amaal Mallik, Pritam and DJ Chetas are rather good and blend well with the film along with Sandeep Shirodkar's background score that lends to the elevation of scenes.
The film tries too hard to take Azhar's side. There ought to have been scenes showing Azhar do what he's best known for - more good cricket and his exceptional antics on the field as a fielder. The film relies too heavily on melodrama and should have been curtailed. Azhar's climactic scene where Emraan reveals that he took bribes from the match-fixing bookie M. K. Sharma portrayed by Rajesh Sharma to keep the rest of his team clean seems too real to believe and a slap on our faces at one point. It just doesn't warrant mercy if this is what really happened in reality.
In short, Azhar is a watchable film, but a wasted chance.