Freeze Frame #114: Iqbal

This story of a deaf-mute who became an international cricketer was one of the most heartwarming movies of 2005. It did not resort to much gimmickry (except maybe the chakravyuh thing which didn’t work so well for me) and placed its faith in the inherent appeal of the story it told. Add to it a few wonderful performances (Shreyas Talpade in a breakout performance as Iqbal, Shweta Prasad as his sister Khadija and Naseer in fine form as his alcoholic coach Mohit) and you have a winner in every sense.

While there is much to recommend the movie, the scene that stood out for me came right at the end, when Iqbal has finally realized his dream of playing for his country. As he walks out of the dressing room and into the ground and the background score reaches its crescendo, you feel as triumphant as he does.

But what really got to me was this little moment when the camera focuses on his sister Khadija beaming like a small sun and wiping away tears of happiness. It is the sort of cliched scene that doesn’t seem like much when you think about it. I mean, the movie is pretty much over at this point and all the heavy lifting has been done already. But every time the movie gets shown on TV, I see that scene and it moves me.

I think it is because of how Khadija’s character is portrayed. Kid sisters in the movies are usually very stereotyped. If I go through the list of archetypes, I’m sure you can list three movies for each one: sachcharine, vivacious, virtuous, borderline promiscuous (but reformed after a close call), rape victim…

Khadija comes across as a real person. Protective of her brother, determined to do all she can to help him succeed and frankly suspicious of his coach’s ability to stay off the booze. And when Iqbal finally makes it, that little moment when she is on screen makes you realize how much it is her success as well.

6 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #114: Iqbal

  1. Ranya says:

    Yes,a wonderful movie; and ditto about your observation: the sister’s characterization was one of the things I appreciated in the movie.

    I love how you do the freeze frames; and for this movie, I think I would choose (if I had to choose just one scene) the conversation between the coach (Naseer) & Iqbal’s father. In most movies, usually, the opposing camp is not shown to have any real motives other than just being evil for the sake of being evil. But in this movie, the father’s concerns were real..and he was reacting as a man who has lost his dreams & doesn’t have much hope from the future. Through it all, his love for his son was always present, even though not always expressed.

    Real characters; Great movie!

  2. memsaab>> Iqbal is definitely worth watching, although a little too well-known for your taste 😉

    Ranya>> True, the dad’s character in this movie was quite interesting. There are a lot of sports movies where the dad isn’t supportive but comes through in the end — The Greatest Game Ever Played, Herbie: Fully Loaded… But very often, it just feels like a cliche, like the character is asked to be unsupportive just so there is some dramatic conflict. Iqbal started to seem like it was using the same cliche, but managed to keep it real.

    That conversation between Anwar and his wife right at the end, where she calls him on his resentment towards his son for his own problems, was quite brilliant. I loved how she was put in a situation where she had to choose between the people she loved, and her immediate response was, “But how did it get to the point where you two were on opposite sides?”


  3. I haven’t seen all of Iqbal yet – and like Memsaab, I keep meaning to correct that. It was playing on my flight from Chicago to Delhi a few years ago, and I watched the last two thirds or so…and cried and cried and cried, my airline blanket tented around my head a little so that passers by wouldn’t see.

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