By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto: Anurag Kashyap’s film “The Brawler” (Mukkabaaz), which revolves around the struggles of a boxer from a lower-caste and gives a peek into cow vigilantism, has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
As its story unveils on the big screen, “The Brawler” a brutal comment on what is happening in India today opens with a scene showing cow vigilantees on the rampage.
Kashyap, introducing the film on Tuesday, said lightly to the audience: “We are the second most populous country in the world, but we don’t end up doing much in sports.”
He said boxing in India is not the way it is seen in movies, alluding to the prevailing corruption in the Indian sports system.
Overall, “The Brawler” is a romantic story paved with complications at every step of the way for its protagonist Shravan (Vineet Kumar Singh).
Sharavan is a lower caste boxer honing his skills in a gym controlled by Brahmin boss Bhagwan Das Mishra (Jimmy Shergill). A local don and boxing promoter, Mishra treats boxers like servants and makes them run errands.
One day, Shravan meets Mishra’s niece Sunaina (Zoya Hussain) who is mute. It is love at first sight.
Sunaina, who can hear, is pretty good at using social media — a tool she uses effectively to communicate. As the plot unfolds, their love has myriad complications.
Shravan has already earned the wrath of his boss and Sunaina’s uncle by delivering a nasty right hook to his face. Now if he has to win Sunaina’s hand, Shravan will have to become a big champion.
Hurdles are created for Shravan so that he doesn’t further his boxing career, land a job and then marry Sunaina. But Shravan succeeds as a boxer and marries Sunaina.
Mishra though won’t rest. He stokes public rage against Shravan and his new “untouchable” coach by delivering them goat meat but spreading rumours about beef.
As is prevalent in sports bodies in India, Mishra, as the boxing federation boss, tries every trick to stop Shravan from winning the national title.
As a last resort, he holds Sunaina and her parents hostage, gets forcible divorce for Sunaina and had her married to someone else.
But nothing can now separate Sunaina and Shravan – the self-described Mike Tyson of India.
Overall, Kashyap holds no political punches in this over two-hour melodrama, spiced by not-so-spicy music.