Shabaash Mithu: Seems like a good shot

Shabaash Mithu’s trailer suggests that the biographical sports drama based on the life of former Indian women's cricket captain Mithali Raj will impress the viewer

Shabaash Mithu: Seems like a good shot

Biswadeep Ghosh

Srijit Mukherjee is a prolific writer-filmmaker best known for his Bengali films. He had also written and directed Begum Jaan, a Hindi film that was rather disappointing despite the presence of fine actors led by Vidya Balan.

Mukherjee’s upcoming Hindi film is Shabaash Mithu, a biographical sports drama based on the life of Mithali Raj, former captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, who retired from the game on June 8 this year. Raj represented her national squad for 21 years. Her performance as a top-order batsman has inspired young women who play the game in remote towns and villages with the hope that they will wear the India Blue someday.

Viewed in that context, Mukherjee has chosen a timely and important subject. The trailer was released on June 20, a few days after Raj’s retirement. The film will hit the marquee on July 15. Shabaash Mithu stars Taapsee Pannu as Raj, Mumtaz Sorcar as Jhulan Goswami and Vijay Raaz as the former’s coach who has a dream, among others.

Born in a Tamil family, she takes up the game seriously after the coach spots her natural talent and speaks to her supportive family. The trailer starts with Taapsee as Raj stepping out as a Team India batsman in her Number 3 jersey. Her batting is a partial indication of her wide range of shots.

Her story is not a series of joys and triumphs. One day, when she asks for tea in English at her coaching centre, the person making it addresses her as ‘English medium’ and asks whether she has come from the house of Queen Elizabeth. On another occasion, she gets hit on the face by a bouncer during practice. Her face starts bleeding, a message that every cricketer must deal with and conquer physical injury.

As a national-level cricketer, she makes a few basic demands from a man who appears to be a selector (played by Brijendra Kala). He humiliates her by calling the peon into the room and asking whether he knows the names of five Indian women cricketers. He says he does not. Things have improved, but only marginally, in recent years. However, women cricketers get far better facilities and money these days.

Incidentally, another film on a woman cricketer titled Chakda Express, directed by Prosit Roy and based on the life of Jhulan Goswami, is being made. Goswami is the best woman fast bowler India has ever produced, and Anushka Sharma will play her on the big screen.

Of course, Shabaash Mithu will be the first one to get released. If the film offers a deep insight into Raj’s career, watching it will create more awareness about her and make the average viewer curious about women's cricket in general. The trailer is an indication that Vijay Raaz is first-rate. Taapsee Pannu, who explores new ideas regularly, is excellent as the protagonist who went where no other Indian woman had been earlier.

What does the trailer suggest about Shabaash Mithu? It does seem that critical acclaim for Mukherjee, Pannu and the film itself is a few days away.

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