Pravin Tambe is an Indian cricketer who made his international debut in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match playing for Rajasthan Royals in 2013. The following year he scalped a hat-trick against Kolkata Knight Riders and remained the highest wicket-taker of IPL until the 25th match of the series.

He also got the prized wicket of MS Dhoni in that tournament. It is almost shocking to note that Tambe made his IPL debut without playing a single first-class match and got his Ranji cap for Mumbai only after his IPL debut. His cricketing career is so surreal, inspiring, and historic that a legend like Rahul Dravid quoted his achievements ahead of some of the greats of the game in a speech. Pravin’s story forms the crux of the latest film, “Kaun Pravin Tambe?”

Kaun Pravin Tambe?” is a nice little biopic that squeezes its way into the list of some of the most entertaining and inspiring biopics that we have seen over the years and we have seen a lot of them. We have seen biopics for track and field athletes, hockey players, boxers, shooters, badminton players and not to mention Aamir Khan’s mega-project documenting the rise of the Phogat sisters. While “Kaun Pravin Tambe?” never equals the sheer scale and might of a gargantuan film like Dangal, it does create its own niche world and populates it with characters that are sweet, enamoring, inspiring, and memorable.

What I loved about the treatment of the story by Jayprad Desai was that he was quick to understand that Pravin’s story was a sum total of the stories of all the people around him. Whatever he achieved in his life was a result of his indomitable spirit that was propelled by little acts of kindness and love that he received from time to time from people like his elder brother, wife, parents, and friends. All these little acts of love not only propelled the man forward but also instilled in him a sense of necessity to succeed not only for himself but for all these people who loved and believed in his abilities.

Jayprad needed to put out these feelings through the film and only if he succeeded to do so could he do complete justice to such an awe-inspiring story. Thankfully, he not only succeeds in conveying the emotional core of Tambe’s story through his dramatic and visual storytelling but also gives us poignant glimpses into some of the most inspiring, heartbreaking, and also tender moments of Tambe’s life. By doing that he is not only able to draw a complete picture of the man and his struggles but also conjure up a story that is intriguing and appeals to the viewers at an emotional level.

Shreyas Talpade looks nothing like the real Pravin Tambe but was absolutely delightful in his rendering of the man in his own way. There is a feeling of simplicity about his performance that immediately hooks the audience and envelops them in its indelible charm. He looks like someone who could easily toggle between being a construction supervisor and a dedicated cricketer.

He looks like someone who would ditch an interview to go play for a team and then get recruited into the same team. He definitely looks like someone who could enjoy working in a Beer Bar but feel insulted when his peers from the cricketing world insult him for the job that he was doing. Most importantly, he feels like someone who could take a hat-trick in his debut match. All these aspects of his performance does the film a world of good and invariably enhances its appeal in moments when you least expect it to.

Talpade’s performance is also elevated by the sparkling chemistry that he shares with Anjali Patil who plays his wife and Ashsis Vidyarthi who plays his coach in the film. I loved the scene where he has a verbal exchange with his coach and is unable to understand his coach’s grand plans for him. Later, when he does understand the value of the advice that he was giving him, he comes back to him resulting in a scene that is poignant and heart-warming. I loved the exchanges between Talpade and Patil. They felt extremely real and I felt as if I had seen such similar fights and moments around me on countless occasions.

 The fact that everything about the film and the characters felt deeply rooted in realism and a reflection of the world that we live in, elevated the moments of pain and tension in the film to a whole new level. We want the protagonist to succeed at any cost as we can identify with him but he fails time and again leading to more tension in the sequences that follow. One also has to give due credit to the makers for envisioning and executing the cricket matches in a way that leaves no room for any complaints. Even the IPL matches are proficiently recreated using smart cinematography and stock footage; combining the two to give a compounded effect. This works well for the film.  

There are no villains in the film. The biggest and only villain in the film is Pravin Tambe’s poor luck and the fact that he, for no reason, gets left behind. The only character that has some shades of grey is that of a sports journalist played by Parambrata Chattopadhyay. He despises Pravin for pursuing what he never had the courage of pursuing himself. His hatred for Pravin often finds expression in strange ways that result in a lot of pain for Pravin. Even this character gradually understands the value of Pravin’s indomitable spirit and starts respecting the man for his sensational achievements. Parambrata Chatterjee does a fantastic job with the character. It came as no surprise to me as he has always been a dependable actor in Bengali films.

I loved “Kaun Pravin Tambe?” from start to finish. It is impossible for me to criticize a film that is so heartfelt in its presentation of a story that in itself is this inspiring. The performances and the underlying interpersonal drama of the film form its core and in these departments, it is as strong as an unshakeable mountain. Talpade leads from the front and is surprisingly able to keep away all the references and nudges Iqbal, another film about a struggling cricketer who rises against all odds to greatness. I feel people should watch “Kaun Pravin Tambe?” for its story, performances, direction, and execution. It will be 2 hours worth spent.  

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