Blue Star Movie Review: A potent sports-drama that rises above a lack of subtlety

Blue Star Movie Review: A potent sports-drama that rises above a lack of subtlety

With loaded political themes, this sports drama never betrays the genre and delivers an engaging film with effective performances and a heartfelt story
Rating:(3 / 5)

From the very beginning, through a barrage of shots that glance past beef stalls, Ambedkar statue, and mentions of “oor” and “colony”, Blue Star strongly registers that it is as much a politically charged film as it is a sports drama. Despite the focus on the sports and the politics around it, the film does not suffer from an identity crisis. Cricket isn’t treated as a vehicle or a gimmick to mount its ideologies on. The film expounds its unabashed love for the sport by properly delving into the joys of being a sports film. Despite all these positives though, Blue Star can be accused of a lack of subtlety, which causes it to lose some colour.

Director: S Jayakumar

Cast: Ashok Selvan, Shanthnu Bhagyaraj, Keerthi Pandian, Prithvi

We are introduced to two local cricket teams with a bad history that goes back many years. Headed by Ranjith (Ashok Selvan) and Rajesh (Shanthanu Bhagyaraj), these two teams represent the oppressed and dominant sections of the same village, respectively. With tensions mounting every time Ranjith and Rajesh lock eyes, they realise that they would have to quell their differences and join forces to fight a more powerful team. With such a straightforward and engaging premise, director S Jayakumar still feels the need to spoon-feed what he wants us to feel every moment. He might as well put a big glowing red arrow pointing down at certain characters to tell us who we should be hating. This is not to say that Blue Star indulges in unmotivated, wanton vilification of characters. The emotions, actions and reactions are justified, the characters do evolve, and it all serves to feed the momentum. However, a character's actions, their twisted ideologies, and the way the scene is set up are enough indicators to read their malevolence. Then, do we really need to hear them spout outdated ‘bad guy’ dialogues, point and laugh when our protagonist falls down, audibly grunt every time their opposition hits a run, and jump up and down with rage like Yosemite Sam? Blue Star would have benefited more by not turning its antagonists into caricatures.

Director Jayakumar makes up for such shortcomings by extracting brilliant performances, keeping a check on every character’s journey, and never losing focus on the central narrative. Ashok Selvan’s Ranjith—with his rage-fuelled passion that feeds both his love for cricket and his relationship—lingers in your memory long after the credits roll. From his gait to grimace, Ashok Selvan brings his own interpretation to the character. He looks menacing when he needs to be and also effectively channels embarrassment and shame when a scene demands it. However, even with the justification that an outdoor sport like cricket would have tanned him so, Ashok Selvan’s brown face makeup does look rather jarring and could have been avoided.

Keerthi Pandian’s Anandhi seems like it was written with the express intent of answering decades of criticisms about having women in Tamil cinema who exist as eye-candies with no real agency. Anandhi’s writing checks all the boxes, and yet, does she really register a strong impression? Does she add to the rhythm of this film?

Shanthnu’s Rajesh, in fact, has the most interesting character journey in the film and the director could have leveraged more out of him. Govind Vasantha’s soundtrack travels along with us like a pleasant companion but some could find it overpowering. The 90s setting and the constant presence of trains seem to add little to the story, but cinematographer Thamizh Azhagan wrings every aesthetically pleasing visual out of them; so, it’s hard to complain. 

Even though the flaws stick out like a sore thumb, the film has more going for it than it doesn’t. While the lack of subtlety might pull you out of some defining moments, Blue Star, with likeable characters, earnest performances, politics that pull no punches, and technical proficiency, still manages to bowl you over.

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