Films of a certain kind are probably written with Akshay in mind nowadays. There is a common man, who looks ordinary, behaves ordinary but at some point achieves extraordinary things. Look back at his recent hits and this is a common theme… Airlift, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Padman and now Gold. Gold is as much a sports film as the story of a man down on his luck who finds his mission in life and moves heaven and earth to succeed.
Most of the story takes place in an India about to gain independence and the film is seeped in a patriotic fervor right from the start. India is playing in the Hockey finals in the 1936 Olympics as a British colony. In the surcharged atmosphere, the team manager Tapan Das (Akshay Kumar) brings the team together through the flag used by the Provisional Government of Free India. Cut to India just before independence, Tapan Das is a washed out jobless man who drinks, gambles and is steeped in debt. Surrounded by darkness on all sides, he sees a ray of hope in the upcoming 1948 Olympics which India would participate in as a free nation. He hustles and begs to get his team manger job back and scouts for a new team for the soon to be independent naion. Rest of the story is about the trials and tribulations before the final match against Britain in which the former colony comes out victorious.
This is Reema Kagti’s most mainstream film to date. She has certainly dressed up the setting. The India of the forties is a sanitized version where the streets of Mumbai could pass off as a London neighbourhood. Even the horrors of partition are glossed over, including just enough violence to move the story forward. Though her sensibilities are rooted in realistic cinema, she has liberally accommodated the strokes that are meant to tug at the heart. There are multiple twists and turns to make the audience root for Tapan Das. Be it the wily co-manager, the clash of ego between the vice-captain and the talented player who is made to sit out for tactical reasons or even the attitude of western world towards former colonies. The odds are stacked against the protagonist. And of course the nail biting final match with the national anthem in the end.
Barring his Bengali diction, Akshay Kumar plays the underdog to perfection, once again. No star swagger, no larger than life persona, just a middle aged man down on his luck. He is bold to carry off the rather buffoonish character with abandon, just like his dancing in an eclectic mix of tie and jacket over a dhoti. Mouni Roy as the pretty, forgiving but slightly dim witted wife has little to do but she is decent. Amit Sadh and Sunny Kaushal as the warring players are solid. Vineet Kumar Singh as the captain who migrates to Pakistan is outstanding. He has a very strong screen presence.
Compared to her Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. and Talaash, this is perhaps a film where Reema has given in to commercial considerations the most. To her credit though, she has still kept it interesting and entertaining. This film may be the commercial winner that has eluded her directorial career so far.