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Azhar still remains my favourite sporting icon (irrespective of what happened). And I was skeptical of Hashmi playing him (not the lest because it seemed like a calculative, a Muslim actor who has played the Muslim card before, being cast as a Muslim cricketer who too sadly had tried to gain sympathy on communal grounds), but from the image Hashmi not only seems to have nailed the look, but also that very famous lazy gait of Azhar. I wish though a more serious director was involved here, Azhar remains one of the most enigmatic cricketers of all time so a very good biopic can be made here. With Ekta Kapoor involved though, one believes they will try to make to indulge in sensationalism here (and will try and whip up unnecessary religious sentiments)
Yeah Hashmi seems to have nailed the look and gait. Azza was my favorite cricketer during the growing up days. Still remember how distressed I was when he was banned for fixing. There is lot of material too here for the movie. His hooking up with a heroine after marrying, his very good batting record in Tests and ODI’s, his fixing episode, captaincy…This can be a very good movie if made properly.
Thanks for posting. Good to see Azhar.
I am at a loss to explain how in some ways I continue to feel so fond of Azhar. What a colossal waste of supreme talent!
On a separate note, seeing Azhar and Emraan together, it is obvious what a terrible miscast this is. Hashmi looks tiny.
Kinda unfair to say that. His career was not like Kambli’s which just wrapped up after great start. Azhar had a long and illustrious career and captaining India for a decade and 3 world cups. Even the match fixing charge and life ban came at the fag end of his career. That just doesn’t take away anything from him. Finally the charges were not proven and he won the case but its all done and dusted now.
The stats doesn’t look great anymore as the whole game has changed but in context he had very good career overall.
Actually his stats are rather poor outside India. If you leave aside subcontinental wickets (India, Pak, SL) Azhar averages over 40 only against Eng. With everyone else he averages under 30. His home average is 55, away is 36. But that 36 then includes Pak and SL as well. So it’s not even about looking at records or centuries or whatever. Just within his own stats there is this big gap. On the other hand if you look at VVS (might be the best comparison in every sense, both wristy players from the same state, VVS too was not about run amassment and so on) you get a far more impressive list of numbers and performances. VVS’s averages are much more in the same zone across the board (barring an exception or two), his home/away averages are almost the same, he really loved playing against the best team in the world (Aus). Now VVS also played on a better team, I’ll grant this.
Azhar I’d say started in a blaze of glory but nothing after this quite lived upto it even if he certainly had a significant career. I also think he’s been culturally important in certain ways. But I don’t otherwise see anything special in his career. Could have achieved more. I think I’m between you and Rajen on him.
Beyond a point, you can’t really prove much with averages. Most of his career came during the transitioning phase of Indian team. He started playing with Kapil, Srikanth where he was deemed more quick scoring batsmen, lot more agile fielder and then led the team to the younger brigade by then his own stats proved nothing great infront of these youngsters. Like, even VVS was huge fan and lot of Azhar influence and built his game following Azhar from his young days(belonging to same city).
Azhar had original style for its time and complete natural batsman and the impact during that time can’t be judged by the averages and numbers.
While Azhar’s ODI record is better than Tests, for the era he played his test record is not so poor even overseas. During the 90’s there were not many Indians who scored better than him in England. He lacked consistency overseas but he had a couple of tons in SA and AUS which were very good knocks. During the 90’s early 40’s was considered to be a good average. The bar changed in the 2000’s when bowlers just disappeared and then average of 50’s became the new 40’s.
Incidentally I am not arguing against Azhar. I completely agree that he belongs to a somewhat older paradigm where no one as obsessed with records all the time and where the standards for consistent performance were very different as well. I’ve often argued for all of this more generally, that it is hard to compare players of different eras (beyond of course the absolute greats) because the standards are very different and the expectations are also different. At the same time one cannot argue for Azhar using absolute language. Potential and actual performance are two different things. If you’re giving credit to him for stroke play and for not making boundaries the way players do today (I agree) then you must also look at why he wasn’t scoring enough against certain kinds of opposition and so on. One cannot get into the weeds only upto a point!
On a related note the player whose record Azhar’s most closely resembles or even seems like a mirror image of is Vengsarkar. The same home/away differential, roughly the same averages against different countries. Vengsarkar too did best against Eng. And so on. But Azhar really stained his career. No getting away from this. But in terms of style and flair and so on he was certainly a joy to watch on a good day. Much as when Laxman was on song he was more of a joy to watch in that purist’s sense than anyone else including Sachin. But Laxman isn’t Dravid let done Tendulkar. His numbers are however stronger than Azhar’s. Switch them around and could you switch the numbers too? Possibly. Playing on a strong team cannot be underestimated. On the other hand Laxman had a bit too much fun against the strongest team of his day for it to be just about the rest of the team. On that note I don’t find it surprising that Azhar prospered against Eng. I’m surprised that Aus suited VVS more than Eng! And certainly the blaze of glory Azhar arrived in with those three centuries is one of the most extraordinary debuts in test history. He has still not been equaled in this respect. And obviously that moment justifiably became one of the most iconic ones in Indian cricket history.
“But I don’t otherwise see anything special in his career.”-
Satyam: “But I don’t otherwise see anything special in his career.”-
I disagree with this bit. While I do grant that Azhar didn’t have really great record in Tests, we are conveniently forgetting the ODIs (BTW, Laxman has a rather mediocre ODI career and especially so when compared to Azhar) where he has a stellar record. When Azhar’s career ended he was the highest run-scorer in the world in ODIs (that’s a bloody huge feat), had the most number of the 50s in ODIs, had the most number of catches in that format (incidentally along with Solkar he is the best fielder India has ever had) and also held the record for the most number of ODIs played (he was infact the first ODI player to have played ever to have played 300 ODIS). But it’s not just the stats- he was considered one of the very best batsmen in the world in the early 90s (Wisden too called him that). Now it’s true that he didn’t hold on to his record for a very long time- his career ended rather abruptly and Tendulkar broke those records in no time- but this doesn’t change the fact that he held the MOST IMPORTANT world records during that period (And yeah, he also had the record for the fastest century in ODIs for quite sometime). So quite clearly an ODI giant of that period.
Agreed that he has a rather pedestrian Test record overseas especially in West Indies where he doesn’t even a century.
Those are all fair points (and numbers) to illustrate. My only claim is that he doesn’t belong in the highest echelons of Dravid or Sunny and so on. I would take Laxman over him also but I’m more partial to tests anyway. I still concede that there can be a legitimate debate involving these two. But the larger point is that as certain absolute claims were being made about Azhar I was debating this because I don’t believe he has the test career to back this up (for most of his peak career tests mattered even more!). Now was he a very talented guy who never quite lived upto his potential as Rajen says? I’d possible agree with this. But I don’t consider him a supreme talent though without doubt great to watch. I’ve already said enough about this in the earlier comment. so when I say I see nothing special I mean relative to some of the claims, not that he’s otherwise not a significant player or that I am somehow obsessed only with the very greatest. And again on this note his three centuries in his first three tests has remained his most historic record and is not likely to be equaled easily at any point. But his later career never lived upto precisely ‘this’ kind of promise.
Also, who can forget the fastest 100 record by Azhar. It wasn’t the type of 100’s which are being made now with 12-15 sixes during the powerplay. It was more of batting technique display and mostly boundaries and as many singles as boundaries. When he came to the crease, it was like 160+ required in 20 odd remaining overs and then to take make a century in 62 balls is unbelievable feat which was record for long time only broken by pinch hitters later on with Jayasurya and Afridi. It is still difficult to score that consistently without the power-play and too many big sixes.
When I say waste, am talking about the murky stuff. On field the guy had such immense flair and stroke making abilities, he was adhere pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, the match fixing scandal took the sheen off and his personal life.
I think he still had cricket left in him.
I am not too caught up with his numbers.
If it were not for the allegations, I would remember him with so much more fondness and affection as I really enjoyed watching him bat.
Man, this looks B-grade and non-serious! To begin with, the trailer hardly carries the look of the early 90’s (if not 1984-85). The other major problem is that it has sensationalism written all over it (they have introduced the match-fixing bit here as soon as they could). The other bit is the makers are quite clearly trying to play the Muslim card here (I know Azhar has been known as a deeply religious man, but is that the only thing which defines him?! Why not have a quirky dialogue there- something like what Raj Singh Dungarpur said to Azhar when he offered him captaincy in ’90- “Miyaan, kaptaan banoge?!”). And what’s up with that title in Urdu?! In any other film this would be something wonderful (like how old Hindi films had their title in Urdu in the opening credits), but here it just seems fishy (I doubt Ekta Kapoor has suddenly discovered a new found love for Urdu). I know this is the just the teaser, perhaps there is a truly good film here (and I am certainly looking forward to it), but the teaser is just not promising at all. Azhar is perhaps the most enigmatic and mysterious Indian sportsman ever, this teaser however is anything but enigmatic.
The cricketer was present at the trailer launch of the film over a month ago, which lends one to believe that the story and screenplay have his endorsement.
Gill says that Azhar shared information that he wanted to share and the producers had complete trust in him.
At the trailer launch, Azhar, dandy as ever in a dark suit and an open collar, said in his trademark halting accent that this movie is an opportunity to clarify certain events that took place in his life.
When asked if some people who see the film might get upset, Azhar responded by saying that not everybody can be happy with everything.
The producers know they have a potboiler ready: All it needs is the right marketing. Hence the tagline ‘Love Him, Hate Him, Judge Him.’
Historian Ramachandra Guha finds Azhar a socially tragic character, a tortured soul. “It was not just the match fixing scandal but also the death of his son (in a road accident in Hyderabad in 2011) later on.”
Guha counts Azhar’s century at Lords in 1990 as the best he ever saw and ranks him the greatest fielder India ever produced, better than even Eknath Solkar.
D’Souza, the movie’s director, admits being under immense pressure as the movie comes closer to its release date, given that so much about Azhar (played by Emraan Hashmi) has already been written.
He asserts that Azhar is not a biopic but a dramatisation of his life and the audience should not go in expecting the former.
In other words, the film could have twists and tweaks, apart from five songs.