Ajitpal Mangat's Victory may not be a masterpiece but it does provide a big opportunity for Harman Baweja to showcase his acting abilities after a very forgettable debut in last year's sci-fi blunder, Love Story 2050. The good news is that the actor makes a superb comeback and carries a very average film all by himself with confidence.
Victory is the story of Vijay Shekhawat (played by Harman Baweja), a middle-class boy from Jaisalmer, whose dream of playing for the Indian cricket team gets fulfilled when he gets selected for India's tour of Australia. He becomes an overnight sensation but soon gets entangled in wealth, wine and women and loses focus on his game. Consequently he is suspended from the team and on realization of his follies, he decides to fight his way back to regain what he has just lost. The film also focuses on the relationship between Vijay and his father (Anupam Kher) and his friend (Amrita Rao).
It's very evident that director, Ajitpal Mangat, is a huge cricket fan and he succeeds tremendously in creating the numerous cricket sequences with flair. Roping in international cricketers like Brett Lee, Sanath Jayasuriya and Harbhajan Singh have definitely helped those sequences look very real. But Mangat is terribly let down by some uninspired writing. Agreed that most sports based films generally follow a formulaic plot but there are examples like Chak De India and Bend It Like Beckham which have improvised through smart writing and interesting characters. That just doesn't seem to happen with Victory. The screenplay is heavily clichéd, predictable and is mostly boring. That said, Mangat does have good hold on certain scenes and the emotional quotient works here and there. The film as a whole may not really appeal to the multiplex junta but it does have good chances at the single screens considering its commercial approach.
Victory is a major challenge for Harman Baweja to compensate for his disastrous debut and fortunately he does very well. He looks much more comfortable in front of the camera and his dialogue delivery has improved by a large extent. I truly believe he is that lambe race ka ghoda and hopefully things will only get better for him with Ashutosh Gowariker's What's Your Raashee. Given the right director and the right script, this guy has the potential to do wonders. Amrita Rao manages to leave a mark. Gulshan Grover is terrific as the shrewd businessman and so is Dalip Tahil as the coach of the Indian cricket team. Anupam Kher is bearable. We've seen him in similar roles before and it's somewhat of a disappointment after his brilliant act in A Wednesday.
Overall, Victory lacks an attention grabbing script and has nothing fresh to offer. It's not an entirely bad film but when cricket is involved, expectations are way higher. Watch it only for Harman Baweja and the impressive line-up of top cricketers.