‘Shabaash Mithu’ review: Taapsee Pannu shines in Mithali Raj biopic

‘Shabaash Mithu’ is a celebration of women’s cricket. Their toil for recognition. Their highs and lows in a very demanding field.

Taapsee Pannu as Mithali Raj in ‘Shabaash Mithu’

Taapsee Pannu as Mithali Raj in ‘Shabaash Mithu’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘Shabaash Mithu’ is a celebration of women’s cricket. Their toil for recognition. Their highs and lows in a very demanding field.

‘Shabaash Mithu’ brings to the large screen the essence of what fans have experienced on the small canvas. The coverage of women’s cricket on television and the media has seen a remarkable change from the times when their match results would be buried in a corner of the newspaper. The girls have earned it by performing and the movie, directed by Srijit Mukherji, only reiterates their feats, especially in the last decade.

Kudos to Mithali for sharing some painful moments as well as joyful milestones close to her heart. Even her anguish at being repeatedly humiliated by the administrators who mocked girls, pleading for better infrastructure and support.

Mithali has been an integral part of the revival of women’s cricket. She has beautifully connected the struggle and success of her colleagues in this movie which highlights some little known facets of their rise.

If Mithali’s mother had had her way, the nimble-footed girl would have grown into a Bharatnatyam dancer. Father Dorai Raj and mother Leela, however, have played a significant role in standing behind their daughter even though, as the movie highlights, hopes were on their son, Mithun, to make it big in cricket.

There are scenes that leave you agitated. Even a demand for proper clothing saw Mithali face the wrath of the officials but it is her classic journey to become one of India’s greatest cricketers that leaves the audience feeling good about the experience.

Mithali was a silent rebel who made her point by scoring runs and setting high benchmarks. The movie depicts it tellingly with her coach, Sampath Kumar, getting the importance that he commanded in her life.

Taapsee Pannu’s hard work to get into the role is well documented. She took lessons in trying to copy Mithali’s strokes and mannerisms.

The script also deals with a crucial point - of many players quitting the game due to lack of support from family and some hostile postures of the administrators. Mithali was a glorious exception. With support from her family, she stood up to all the challenging phases in her cricketing career.

Vijay Raaz enacts the strict coach’s role to perfection. Mumtaz Sorcar is a delight as Jhulan Goswami, aping her bowling action superbly.

Mithali, who scored a century on ODI debut at the age of 16, has nicely acknowledged the part played in her life by schoolmate Noori and Railway colleague Nooshin Al Khadeer. A double century (against England) in only her fourth Test innings set Mithali on course for a brilliant run.

It is a sports biopic with a difference. It signs off with the 2017 World Cup, which earned the girls the status they deserve in world cricket. It is a tribute to a legend, who played the game with dignity and left the stage gracefully when on a high. The film belongs to Taapsee, the delightful Mithali on the screen.

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