‘Se­lec­tion Day’ fails to cap­ture the nu­ances of the novel

Arab News - - Finally - Gau­ta­man Bhaskaran Chen­nai AFP A still from ‘Se­lec­tion Day.’

Chil­dren are of­ten pushed into ful­fill­ing goals that their par­ents them­selves failed to clinch, and this is the theme of a new film by British-In­dian film­maker Udayan Prasad, who made his name with “My Son the Fa­natic” and “The Yel­low Hand­ker­chief.” A Net­flix orig­i­nal, “Se­lec­tion Day” plots the story through six episodes in sea­son one, with the next slated to fol­low in March.

Based on Arvind Adiga’s Booker Prize-win­ning 2016 novel of the same name, Prasad’s web out­ing lacks the nu­ances and sub­tlety of the source ma­te­rial. For in­stance, the fre­quent in­tru­sion of a Hindu de­ity into the vis­ual nar­ra­tive jars, as do some of the other se­quences that go over­board in a se­ries whose half a dozen episodes seem in­ad­e­quate to lead the plot to the next sea­son.

Es­sen­tially a teenage cricket drama (a sport which is un­be­liev­ably pop­u­lar in In­dia), “Se­lec­tion Day” un­der­lines the al­most cruel dis­ci­pline im­posed on Manju Ku­mar (Mo­ham­mad Sa­mad) and his older brother, Radha Ku­mar ( Yash Dholye), by their fa­ther (Ra­jesh Tailang) to en­sure that the boys get picked for the un­der-19 Mum­bai cricket team. The fa­ther, driven by the am­bi­tion to turn his sons into stars, goes to an al­most in­sane ex­tent. The teenagers are up­rooted from their vil­lage in cen­tral In­dia and taken to Mum­bai, their school­ing is thrown into dis­ar­ray and their own pref­er­ences are brushed aside. The younger son hates cricket, and is pas­sion­ate about sci­ence, but the fa­ther will hear none of this, and his blind ob­sti­nacy gets him into a phys­i­cal fight with a leg­endary coach, Tommy (Ma­hesh Man­jrekar) — who had taken the boys un­der him.

“Se­lec­tion Day” fal­ters in the way re­la­tion­ships are scripted, es­pe­cially be­tween Manju and a spoilt brat, Javed An­sari (Karan­vir Mal­ho­tra), but throws up first-class per­for­mances. Sa­mad and Dholye are as im­pres­sive as the vet­eran Tailang, and make a strik­ing pair both on and off the field. Se­lec­tion Day works best when it fo­cusses on the boys — the sub-plots that have been added in the web se­ries could have been avoided.

Hale wore a Ge­orges Chakra de­sign.

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