Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Mr & Mrs Mahi review – Indian cricketing love story is more than just a boys’ own tale
Cricket Culture Sport World News

Mr & Mrs Mahi review – Indian cricketing love story is more than just a boys’ own tale

Hindi cinema has thus far spent 2024 in retreat, its commercial failures compounded by a successful run of south Indian crowdpleasers. Timed with Kohli-like precision to arrive at the conclusion of the IPL, this gentle cricket-themed romance may not be enough to overturn the prevailing industry narrative; it comes on like a brisk middle-order batter, fifty compiled after heavier hitters have gone for a duck. Yet director Sharan Sharma locates a palpable emotional heartbeat within the material while following a sound gameplan: deliver two hours of absorbing storytelling with admirable stars on solid form. Like the sport the film describes, this movie business is simpler than it often looks.

As with 2019’s sly charmer Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, everything starts with Rajkummar Rao and a bait-and-switch of sorts. It opens as just a boys’ story, with Rao’s petulant club player Mahendra blowing a crucial trial game by hogging the final-over strike. An equally nondescript career in sporting goods awaits, until his wedding-night recognition that Mahima (Janhvi Kapoor), the distractible med student he’s been offloaded onto by exasperated parents, knows cricket better than he does and furthermore bats far better than he ever could. What follows, as Mahendra pivots to coaching and nudges his wife towards the spotlight, is a small monument to partnership building.

Sharma and co-writer Nikhil Mehrotra intersperse their training montages with properly knotty interpersonal business: between Mahendra and a father (Kumud Mishra) providing only bad coaching, and between Mahima and a husband unnerved by this marital eclipse. While Rao gamely works through some of masculinity’s pettier aspects, Kapoor emerges from the nets a very decent, committed player, touchingly hesitant when faced with both the short ball and the apparent pipedream of a pro sports career. Sharma aces the cricketing detail – including the movies’ first concussion test – but also grasps sport’s human interest and poetry; one shot of the Mahis’ feet moving in training-pitch unison mirrors the stirring teamwork in which those recent south Indian hits traded. Might a Hindi fightback be on the cards?

Source: theguardian.com