Hindi sports biopics are notorious for their leaden-footed flirting with outswingers that are best left alone. It is, therefore, pleasantly surprising to stumble upon a film like Kaun Pravin Tambe?, which plays with an absolutely straight bat as it pieces together a fascinating life story that is much more about dour tenacity than about flashy achievements and staggering statistics.
That is not to say that Kaun Pravin Tambe?, streaming on Disney+Hotstar, isn't occasionally lured into attempting false, airy-fairy strokes. In seeking to whip up some drama around the constant resistance and reverses that the protagonist faced as he laboured on the fringes of a game he loved to distraction, it throws in a preening sports journo (Parambrata Chatterjee) who is scornful of Tambe, dismissing him repeatedly as a 'gully-level' cricketer who has no future in the higher leagues of the game
Kaun Pravin Tambe?, produced by Fox Star Studios in association with Friday Filmworks and Bootroom Sports, has enough innate meat not to require extraneous elements in order to generate conflict and create a context for the cricketer's painstaking and painful progress through the ranks.
His career is capped by an incredible stroke of luck that, thanks to the intervention of Rahul Dravid (who puts in an appearance as himself in the film's prelude besides being impersonated by actor Chirag Trivedi later on) and former India fast bowler and director of the D.Y Patil Sports Academy Abey Kuruvilla (Nitin Rao), pitchforks him into the Indian Premier League (IPL) fold without ever having played a single first-class game.
With Shreyas Talpade hitting the sweet spot with unfailing regularity and director Jayprad Desai keeping a tight, measured rein on the flow of the story, Kaun Pravin Tambe? finds almost all the answers that it needs to formulate a meaningful statement on the virtues of never giving up. It is both entertaining and engaging.